Some people have had some bad things to say about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lately. Others have had some good things to say about him. Amazing, isn’t it? It’s almost as though different people have different experiences with people—and different interpretations of those experiences based on shared personality differences and circumstances.
One of the most enthusiastic supporters of Roethlisberger this offseason has been his newest wide receiver Ryan Switzer, whom the Steelers acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in 2018. Looking for a return man, Pittsburgh sent a fifth-round pick for him and a sixth-round pick from the Oakland Raiders.
In spite of the fact that he was brought in with an eye toward taking over the kick and punt return responsibilities, he also immediately got some looks on offense as early as the season opener. He was even targeted early on in that game. And he dropped the ball.
One might think that would be pretty damning for a new guy to drop the first ball that ever comes his way from an established quarterback, but Switzer says that Roethlisberger was never anything but welcoming and helpful to him in his second transition to a new environment that year.
“To have a Hall of Fame quarterback work with me, reach out to me” was a big deal for him. “It would have been so easy for him to say ‘this guy got here seven days before the first game. I don’t trust him, I don’t want to work with him’. But he didn’t do that”.
It certainly seemed as though Roethlisberger did take a liking to Switzer, who displayed the ability to win matchups in the slot. He singled out the second-year receiver for praise a couple of times, including calling him “a tough little booger” after he took a big shot to hang on to a pass. He also said he “doesn’t make the same mistake twice”.
“Ben and I talked after the season”, Switzer told Teresa Varley. “I wanted to express my thanks to him. When I got here I remember telling my wife, my agent, I am going to see how this first couple of days go. I was so low mentally I was ready to retire. The game at that point wasn’t worth the mental stress it was putting on me and my life. He helped me so much”.
As you’ll recall, his move to Pittsburgh was the second of the offseason for him. originally a fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, they had shipped him off to Oakland in late April in exchange for a defensive lineman who did not make their roster.
After hardly contributing in Dallas, and then being booted in Oakland, where the coaches gave him the silent treatment for weeks after he was put on the trading block, it’s no surprise if he was sincerely thinking about calling it a career if things didn’t work out in Pittsburgh.