Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t the first great quarterback to miss all or nearly all of a season. We’ve seen it happen to some of the greatest to play the game, with some more recent examples being Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. In both cases, they returned to play great. Especially in the former situation, there were major health questions about his ability to play.
The Pittsburgh Steelers veteran is looking to write his own story in 2020 coming off of a severe elbow injury in which he tore three tendons in his throwing arm, quite a rare injury, perhaps unique, to come back from at his position and play at this level.
But everything has been good as far as his recovery goes, and he has remained consistently up-beat about the whole process, which those around him have noticed, including his offensive linemen, such as David DeCastro, who said that he “seems lighter, a positive attitude, happier”.
“He seems happy, lighter on his feet, and just having a good time, happy to be back out here”, he added later in his answer when he was speaking to reporters at training camp yesterday. “I’m sure it was tough being hurt for a year and missing it. That’s not easy on your mental health”.
Roethlisberger’s elbow injury was a long time coming—he recently acknowledged that he had been experiencing pain for years—but it all came to a head in a hurry in Week Two of the 2019 season. By halftime, he was gripping his elbow, knowing something was very wrong in a way that it had never been wrong before.
The offense lost not just talent at the quarterback position when he went down, but also leadership, and that is also something that DeCastro talked about. No disrespect to Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, but they’d never even thrown an NFL pass before the year.
“I think the biggest thing with Ben is not just that he’s a talented player in his own right, it’s what he does for the people around him”, he said. “He has the ego, the ability to make you play better, to force you to play better, because he expects it. It’s similar to Pouncey in a way that, true leaders aren’t just good players, they demand your best when you’re out there, and you fall in line”.
“That’s a true leader, and he has that presence in the huddle”, DeCastro continued. “He expects the best from you, he expects you not to lose. The more I’ve been around him over the years, he’s always had that, I think that’s part of what makes him great”.
The Steelers anticipate that they will have their leader back under center when they open the season next month against the New York Giants. His presence alone will make a difference, but they’ll sure welcome his arm and his experience as well.