The Pittsburgh Steelers losing Ben Roethlisberger, whether early in the season or not, was for most onlookers a deathblow for any prospects they had of doing anything valuable with their time on the field during the 2019 season. The veteran’s 16th season consisted of exactly six quarters of play, during which he failed to throw a single touchdown pass, and only led his team to one touchdown drive, on one that began in opposing territory following a turnover.
The team has been outscored in the second halves of both the game he exited and the game he did not play in, all three games resulting in losses. It’s not clear if they would have had more success with him, but we really don’t know the extent to which his elbow injury affected his performance throughout the year.
What we do know is that it was causing him enough issues that he just underwent surgery to repair the damage, having had that operation performed by a renowned specialist in that field out inf Los Angeles. But he was back in Pittsburgh by Wednesday, and he paid a visit to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex yesterday to let his teammates know that he is still with them.
Third-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had tremendous success in his first two seasons playing with Roethlisberger, culminating in his 111-catch, 1426-yard 2018 season that saw him earn Pro Bowl recognition. “It’s very difficult” to continue on offense without Roethlisberger, he told Mike Prisuta for the team’s website.
But he was glad to see the offensive captain around the facilities yesterday, saying that he’s “just a great guy”, an assessment one former teammate may not necessarily agree with. “He’s out there supporting us. As a captain, he’s going to ride with us whether he’s not in a game or in a game”, he said.
It’s unclear the extent to which Roethlisberger will be present at the facility going forward in a football-like capacity, though he will be there for his rehabilitation. Will he be attending games and things of that nature? I suppose it remains to be seen. Perhaps he will.
Either way, his visit to the south side yesterday was a symbolic gesture to his team, letting them know that he is still a part of them and a resource for them as they move forward and try to finish the 13 games remaining in this season.
Their next game is at home on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that is in the same 0-3 hole in which they find themselves, which feels like a good opportunity to get that first win out of the way. It would also feel like a good time for Roethlisberger to show the nation that he’s still out there with his team.