If you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan, and odds are, you are, you’ve seen Ben Roethlisberger’s growth on and off the field. But it’s probably an aspect of him that doesn’t get talked enough, especially in light of the ignorant Sports Illustrated column that’s been floating around the past week.
Team President Art Rooney was asked about Roethlisberger’s maturity on and off the field. On it, it’s clear he’s evolved as a pocket passer, even if the general media still thinks of him as the sandlot quarterback who only succeeds when things go haywire.
“He’s doing a great job,” Rooney told the NFL Network. He’s getting rid of the ball. The offensive line is keeping him upright. We’re looking forward to many more years.”
It was Rooney who then-famously said Roethlisberger needed to do a better job of staying healthy back in 2012.
“We need him to be healthy,” he said at the time. “We need him to continue to be healthy. He is turning 30. Taking fewer sacks, fewer risks here and there is something he needs to think about. But not a dramatic change.”
That also meant a heavy investment in the offensive line, a process that began two years prior with the selection of Maurkice Pouncey. Throw in high draft picks of David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert and the Steelers have transformed their line of who are those guys to a cast of All-Stars.
In turn, Roethlisberger has enjoyed the two least sacked years of his career in 2015 and 2016, taken down a combined 37 times over that span. There has been six individual seasons where he was sacked more often than that.
But it isn’t just on the field where his evolution has been obvious. Off the field, in the locker room and in the community, he’s grown up. Rooney spoke to that as well.
“He’s the leader of the team now. It was unusual, he started as a rookie, and that’s not easy to step into that position as a rookie. He’s grown a lot. Now he’s the unquestioned leader of our team and he’s done a great job.”