Ben Roethlisberger is 38 years old. He had major surgery on his throwing arm. That might not be old in the real world, but it certainly is in professional sports, even for the quarterback position, as the age range for that position has elevated in recent years thanks to the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees (and if he didn’t put his best foot forward last night).
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is an unquestioned, undisputed first-ballot Hall of Famer when he retires. He has thrown for over 57,000 yards, with 373 touchdown passes. He’s two games away from 148 regular season wins. He also has 13 wins in the postseason, including two Super Bowl trophies, and another 30 touchdowns there.
So why did he come back, knowing that it would take so much to get back, and even with some uncertainty? The specific nature of his elbow injury was somewhat uncharted territory to come back from with quarterbacks, after all.
He talked to Terry Bradshaw about that before Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which he threw three touchdown passes in the Steelers’ fourth consecutive victory to start the season—something Pittsburgh hadn’t done since Bradshaw was their quarterback.
“I love this game. That’s why I came back. I didn’t have to come back. I’ve accomplished so much as an individual that, it’s not about that for me anymore”, he told the Hall of Famer. “It’s about the team, trying to get as many Super Bowls as you have blessed this team and this city with. But I can’t look past this season because it was almost taken from me. And so, I have one more year on my contract. If they’ll have me, and I feel good, and we’re healthy, then I’ll honor that contract, but I’ve got to give this season and this team everything that I have right now”.
It doesn’t hurt that the front office has continued to put weapons around him. He has JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he didn’t even really get to experience James Washington and Diontae Johnson fully yet. Then they added Eric Ebron in free agency and Chase Claypool in the draft, of whom he is becoming a fast fan.
Keep targets like that around him, and as long as he can keep throwing to him, it’ll be a tough decision to ever call it a day. These guys are making plays for him, with 53 percent of his passing yardage this season coming after the catch.
He’ll be the first to admit that his guys make his job relatively easy. They have good pass protection as well. Add in his quick delivery and you have the recipe for a successful passing game that should keep you upright.