You may have read recently about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger “slimming down” this offseason, as confirmed by his agent, that he has lost around 15 pounds this offseason as a result of a high-cardio workout.
Some, including members of the media, took this as a surprise, but it probably shouldn’t be, and is more likely than not a product of the residuals of an undeserved reputation that has been hard for Roethlisberger to shake—one that, admittedly, was pretty well-earned based on stories told of his early days on the team, including the ones that he has retold himself.
The 34-year-old quarterback has undergone some significant personal and professional changes over the course of the past six years or so in particular, since a string of unfortunate choices in a Georgia bar back in 2010 threatened to derail him and resulted in him being suspended for four games.
In spite of his success on the field, at the time, he was an easy target for any sort of accusation, whether it is immaturity or worse off the field, slovenliness, being a poor teammate, not working hard enough, or being too coddled.
Perhaps there was some truth to the latter, which could have been a catalyst to the Steelers deciding to ‘refire’ Bruce Arians as the team’s offensive coordinator, which ushered in the Todd Haley era and, after questions of whether or not Roethlisberger had yet called him, the best statistical football of his career.
But as to his conditioning, it seems to me that it is somewhat of an offseason tradition for Roethlisberger to unfoundedly have his fitness questioned only later for it to be revealed that he has actually spent a fair bit of time keeping himself in shape. This has been a recurring theme over the course of the past few offseasons, and it is not the only one.
Another greatest hit has been the idea that Roethlisberger does not work as hard as other quarterbacks around the league, a notion easily countered by reports of his flying out his wide receivers to work with them at his home during the offseason.
Practice reports from training camps of recent years, particularly over the past two years, have shown another side of Roethlisberger that has not had to be as present in the past. With stalwart defensive players continuing to retire and the offensive pieces around him getting younger and younger, he has been more and more demonstrative and thorough in his work with his skill position players, particularly the newer members of the group.
Roethlisberger may have entered this league with a bit of an oafish reputation, and carried himself in his early days in a way that supported that theme. There may have even been an offseason or two in which he actually began the process a bit out of shape. But he has come a long, long way since 2004 into becoming one of the more cerebral quarterbacks of the day, a family man, and a dedicated worker.