It’s always going to be a topic of conversation when a franchise quarterback starts to get into his mid-to-late-30s. How much longer do you want to play? How much longer do you feel like you can play? Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been asked these questions for several years now, and already a number of times this offseason.
Of course, he’s also 38 years old now and has a throwing elbow that has had three tendons reattached less than a year ago. He signed a two-year contract extension last March that has him tied to the team through 2021, his age-39 season. But don’t mention the landmark he’s approaching.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not close to 40, so please don’t say that again”, he joked with reporters earlier today, as players such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees rebuke what was formerly conventional wisdom about quarterbacks’ abilities to play at a high level into their 40s.
Roethlisberger still has a couple more seasons before he’ll be a 40-year-old quarterback. He will be one if he plays beyond his current deal. But as far as how much longer he will play, he doesn’t want to give an answer, simply because it’s not something he can be sure of.
“I don’t know. Guys always throw out how long they want to play ‘til. I don’t know”, he said about whether or not it’s attainable to continue to play into his 40s the way other quarterbacks named above recently have been able to.
“I honor my contract, I know it’s got one more year on it, but I’m gonna give this season everything I have, especially since I didn’t get to play last year”, he added. “This season means a lot to me, so I’m going to give everything I have and see what happens. But I don’t like to put a timeframe on how long I want to play because there’s too many variables involved”.
Earlier this offseason, Roethlisberger did tell Terez Paylor of Yahoo! that he feels like “there’s a few more chapters left” in his football journey. He has also previously said that “as long as I feel like I can perform at a high level and I’m not hurting my team, then I want to be out there and give it everything I have trying to win”.
He’s just tired of answering. He’s not going to be like Brady and Russell Wilson and publicly declare that he plans to play until he’s at least 45 years old. He’s just going to keep playing until he feels like he’s not playing at the same level anymore. Whenever that happens is whenever it happens, and trying to predict it doesn’t really make a difference.