According to Ben Roethlisberger, his elbow is completely pain free for the first time in over a decade. In a great feature piece by Yahoo’s Terez Paylor, Roethlisberger admitted he battled elbow pain for ’13, 14 years’ before finally succumbing to it last season. Going down in Week 2 against Seattle, he missed the rest of the season as doctors repaired three torn flexor tendons in his right arm.
“Oh yeah, I’ve been feeling this pain in my elbow for probably 13, 14 years,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve had a small tear in there the whole time … and I dealt with the pain and literally dealt with it in pretty much everything I do. You just kind of get used to it; I’ve had that pain for so long that every day.”
For those who don’t have a calendar handy, that means Roethlisberger has felt some degree of pain in his throwing arm since around 2005-2006, shortly after entering the NFL. Some of that may be natural wear and tear of a QB, especially one who has played as long and thrown as many passes as he has. Some of that could stem from the beating he took early in his career, a time when the Steelers’ offensive line wasn’t nearly what it is now and an era where Roethlisberger played much more “backyard” football than present day. From 2004 to 2009, he was sacked 242 times, an average of 40 per season.
Looking back, even OC Randy Fichtner saw the warning signs that his quarterback’s arm was a ticking time bomb.
“The beautiful thing for me is that he’ll throw a pass, short, long, deep, whatever, and I don’t see him reaching for his forearm or rolling his arm around or shaking it like maybe it might be a little bit sore,” Fichtner told Yahoo. “Quite honestly, I had seen that over the years.”
Without Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ offense fell apart. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges slogged their way to one of football’s worst aerial attacks. Despite an elite defense that led the league in turnovers, the Steelers lost their final three games, finishing 8-8, and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year.
Following his surgery, Roethlisberger’s declared himself completely pain free. Something he admits is a weird feeling.
“I keep waiting for it to come back like, where is it, where is it? And luckily, by the grace of God, it hasn’t come back yet. Hopefully, it never does.”
Roethlisberger had a day off yesterday but has practiced most days during the padded portion of training camp. A change-up compared to previous years where he’d work a full-day followed by a half-day and then an off-day. It’s as strong a sign as any that he truly is pain free.
Check out the rest of Paylor’s article. It delves into Roethlisberger’s relationship with Pouncey and how much longer #7 thinks he can play. I’ll again leave a link here.