The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers were a roller coaster ride that ended with the black and gold making the playoffs at 9-7-1. Ben Roethlisbergerlate in the season quietly announced the home game against the Cleveland Browns would be his last game in Heinz Field and they found a way to win his final home game. He engineered one more magnificent drive to put the Steelers in the playoffs a week later against the Baltimore Ravens in overtime.
The Steelers were shown the exit by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs and the five-year waiting period for the Hall of Fame began for the franchise record holder in virtually every passing category. Roethlisberger walked off the field into retirement quietly without much fuss and Steelers fans were spared him finishing his career in another uniform like so many other great quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. It was important to retire a Steeler for him and the fan base.
During Episode 13 of his Footballin with Ben Roethlisberger, he spent almost the entire first half of the podcast discussing his family with co-host Spencer T’eo and the birthday weekend of his oldest son Benjamin Roethlisberger who had just turned 10 years old. Last week, he told Bob Pompeani emphatically that he was not interested in being a coach or an analyst and that his family was too important, and there is no doubt that is true. Roethlisberger is not interested in either of those jobs, but based on this week’s episode he may have wanted a different job with the organization for one more season.
“It’s going to be six on six, and he (Benjamin) said we want you to be the all-time quarterback for both teams,” Roethlisberger revealed about his son’s Saturday birthday activity. “I felt honored that someone would want me to be a quarterback. I’m just saying.”
The comment could be interpreted as just wishful thinking and it might have been by the legendary quarterback. However, the podcast was filmed on Sunday night while the wounds of the Bengals’ 37-30 loss were fresh and the look on his face seemed like frustration. Roethlisberger had to significantly restructure his contract to play in 2021 and it was not a well-kept secret that the national media, Kevin Colbert and Matt Canada did not want to see him taking snaps in Pittsburgh any longer.
Art Rooney II seemed to intervene on his behalf with a restructured contract last season, but it was not a well-kept secret that the team was done with the future Hall of Famer. At 3-7 and Pittsburgh in disarray, it is worth asking what exactly was the rush to dump the Steelers’ iconic quarterback if the intention was to draft Kenny Pickett and sit him behind Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky was elected a team captain and is by all reports a model teammate but what was Pickett going to learn from him about playing the position?
Roethlisberger played 2021 at a reduced rate and if they felt drafting Pickett was the right move, why not ask him to play one more season and mentor the rookie? The Steelers have fallen to 2-4 in one-score games under Trubisky and Pickett. Last season the team was 6-2. It was a national talking point that Roethlisberger could no longer win shootouts or put up big numbers, but he led the league in fourth-quarter comebacks and the team was relevant. He also knows how to win and that is a lesson that Pickett needs to learn.
Steelers Matt Canada Absolutely Destroyed For “Ill-Timed Plays” By Ben Roethlisberger on Episode 13 of Weekly Podcast
Mike Tomlin made no secret that he wanted a mobile quarterback, at 3-7 you have to wonder if he would trade mobility for a veteran quarterback at this point. Tomlin is staring down the barrel of a disastrous result and at this point would he rather have the old number seven under center in November? Tomlin is often praised by people who don’t observe the team closer as a football savant. It’s always the same, ‘you would have thought he was a genius if it worked trope.’ How many calls have to fail before people outside of Pittsburgh catch on that you don’t get the benefit of the doubt when the count reaches the umpteenth time?
The Steelers could possibly be just as bad or worse with Roethlisberger at the helm, but Diontae Johnson would not have gotten into a fight with an iconic signal caller at halftime of the Jets game. George Pickens might be in contention for the AFC Rookie of The Year and the Steelers could be in contention. Pittsburgh would be a totally different offense in 2022 and at this point, it is really hard to see the downside of that.
What do you think Steeler Nation? Should Big Ben have played one more year? Comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.