Since about 2016 or so, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a more cautious approach to discussing his future. 34 years old at the time, he started to refer to his future as essentially an unknown, emphasizing that he was going to take every offseason to reflect and decide whether or not he wants to keep playing.
As it turns out, that’s not what the people who are paying you want to hear, especially when they’re about to pay you more than anybody else in your sport, short of one person, has received. Which is why Steelers President Art Rooney II personally sought assurances from Roethlisberger that he would fully commit to playing three more seasons before giving him a two-year contract extension entering the final year of his current deal.
Frankly, you can tell by his comments since signing the deal, including when he spoke to the media yesterday when asked about his new contract.
“Three years is what I’ve committed to the Steelers, and I’ve always honored my contracts, and I’m going to continue to honor it”, he said. “I know I’ve talked about season by season, because of injuries, there are things that you just can’t foresee. But in terms of my commitment to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s three years, and I’m going to honor that”.
Never before has he really added that part about the injuries and the unforeseen. Previously, it was about reflecting with his wife and his family, and whether or not he still had the passion. Now, it’s more like, as long as I’m healthy I’m going to keep playing.
I personally don’t think it’s ever been different. I have a hard time believing that he has ever seriously considered retirement up to this point, or really expects any one season to be his last. He just knows that he is at a point in his career, at his age, that the end could be closer than you expect or want it to be.
But watching Tom Brady and Drew Brees, and even Philip Rivers, continue to play at a high level at an ‘advanced’ age certainly isn’t going to get him to hang up his cleats any after, I think. I would say especially Rivers, given their proximity in age and in the all-time passer statistics, but you know it’s really about Brady. I can’t imagine he wants to retire before Old Man Brady does, especially if he gets a seventh Lombardi before the Steelers do.