According to Pro Football Reference, there are only 27 quarterbacks or players who had primarily played quarterback before in NFL history who would go on to reach at least a 17th season. 12 of those players would play their 17th season during this century, beginning with Warren Moon in 2000.
Of those 12, only four spent more than 10 of those seasons with the same organization. Even Drew Brees has ‘only’ been with the New Orleans Saints for 14 years, having spent his first five seasons with the San Diego Chargers.
This is significant this offseason with the news of Eli Manning’s retirement with the New York Giants and the decision between the Los Angeles Chargers and Philip Rivers to mutually part ways. Both spent 16 seasons with their ‘original’ franchise (after being swapped on a draft-day trade), but will not see a 17th season.
Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, is preparing for his 17th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, albeit currently consisting of rehabbing from an elbow injury that limited him to six quarters of play. In fact, he is under contract through the next two seasons and has already said that he is committed to completing his contract, so he should see through at least 18 seasons with the Steelers.
When he takes a snap in 2020, he will become just the sixth quarterback in NFL history to have spent 17 or more seasons with the same team, joining Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, John Brodie, and Jim Hart in doing so.
Needless to say, 17 years with one organization is a long time, and there surely are not too many players regardless of position who can ever say that they have done that. Sebastian Janikowski did it with the Oakland Raiders. Perhaps a few other specialists have done it. But not even Jerry Rice reached his 17th season with the San Francisco 49ers. A few linemen like Bruce Matthews and Jackie Slater have also done it.
But the point is, the longevity of Roethlisberger’s tenure, not just in the NFL, but with the Steelers, with any singular franchise, is incredibly rare. It’s a testament not just to his own consistency, but to the consistency of vision and stability of the franchise that they have remained together for so long.
Of course, anything that happens from this point forward is still somewhat up in the air. We still haven’t even gotten to his medical checkup yet, so we don’t actually know what his status will be for his 17th season, though he will surely be on the team—he’s not going to be released, no matter what insane article you may come across.