While we might never know for sure just how long Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow had been an issue to the point where there might have been a reason for concern, there is nevertheless the reality that that point came to a head in the first half of the team’s second game this year.
He left that game at halftime, and it would later be resolved that he will not play another down in 2019. He had surgery to repair the damage in his elbow earlier this week, performed by the respected Dr. Neal ElAttache, with team doctor James Bradley also present.
According to Gerry Dulac, after having the surgery performed in Los Angeles, Roethlisberger is now back home in Pittsburgh and “doing well”, with the next step for him being to pay a visit to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and get an opportunity to see his teammates and coaches.
Ben Roethlisberger is back home in Pittsburgh and “doing well” after having elbow surgery in Los Angeles, per source. Next step will be to visit team.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 26, 2019
In a statement via the team’s website issued Monday, it reads in part that after he returns to Pittsburgh, “he immediately will begin working with the Steelers’ medical staff on his rehabilitation, and he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field for the 2020 NFL season”.
This is the first major season-ending injury of Roethlisberger’s career, and, although he had previously been known to suffer one or two minor injuries per season that would knock him out for a couple of games, he had actually been experiencing the healthiest run of his career.
Prior to Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, Roethlisberger had not missed a game due to injury since the seventh game of the 2016 season, when he had to sit out a contest against the New England Patriots, started by Landry Jones. While he would miss the season finales of that and the following season, that was done simply to rest and protect him from injury as the team moved on to the postseason.
Even going further back, notwithstanding a somewhat serious shoulder injury in 2015 that caused him to miss a few weeks, Roethlisberger played all 16 games of the 2013 and 2014 seasons, so that is four of the past six seasons leading up to 2019 in which he didn’t miss any time due to injury.
It’s not a great coincidence that that largely coincides both with the improvement in the personnel and instruction of the offensive line and the implementation of a more timing-oriented offense that did not require Roethlisberger to hold onto the ball as long.
Still, when you have over 7000 passing attempts under your belt in your 16th season, things tend to wear down. That is what his good friend, center Maurkice Pouncey, suggested last week, noting that the quarterback had experienced soreness in his elbow for years.