There are plenty of players about whom there are plenty of myths. This guy has bad hands, when he really doesn’t. Another has fumble problems when he really only has two in his entire career. And plenty of players who absolutely don’t deserve that slapped with the label of injury-prone. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, at least in this stage of his career, is one such player.
It’s funny, because there was recently a segment on ESPN’s Get Up show that illustrates my point. There was a panel about the Steelers and expectations for next season, which included Ryan Clark, Dan Orlovsky, and Jeff Darlington.
Darlington acknowledged that he had a preconceived notion that Roethlisberger is a player who gets injured a lot and takes a beating and thus, misses time. Perhaps that was once true, but how many games, really, has he missed due to injury, at least prior to 2019, of course?
“Honestly, I kind of dispelled my own myth by simply doing the research and recognizing the fact that Ben played 16 games in 2018, he played 15 games other than a meaningless game at the end of the season in 2017”, he said. “The last six seasons in general, he really has missed very minimal time due to injury. He’s been largely durable”.
Going back to 2013, through the 2018 season, Roethlisberger has missed a total of seven games, and two of those were meaningless Week 17 games when the Steelers had already achieved their best possible (or realistic) playoff positioning. He missed one game due to injury in 2016, though he did miss time in 2015 due to a sprained MCL and bone bruise. He would also miss a start later in the season due to a foot sprain, but dressed as the backup and then ended up playing the vast majority of the game in a victory.
Between 2013 and 2018, Roethlisberger attempted 3406 passes. That was the seventh-most in the NFL during that same span, with Tom Brady and Philip Rivers only slightly ahead of him. Drew Brees was the only quarterback with arguably significantly more attempts at 3634. Roethlisberger was the only one of those seven to play in fewer than 90 games.
“While we largely are resigned to believe that Ben will continue to deal with injuries because he just get banged around so much”, Darlington added further, “we really should be having the conversation where this guy is also another fountain of youth just like Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He really continues to do the things that have made him effective for a decade”.
I’m not sure I would go quite that far. But perhaps it’s not wrong. What Roethlisberger did in 2018 at 36 was already pretty impressive, one of the great statistical seasons by a quarterback of that age. Assuming he’s really healthy after having his elbow repaired, there’s no reason to assume he’s going to miss a bunch of time because of other injuries based on his recent history.