A lot of players don’t get to end their career the way they want to, or even when they want to. In fact, that almost surely applies to the vast majority of players. The storybook ending comes few and far between, as fans of just about any team are probably aware.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of not knowing when it’s your time to call it a day, or an inability to acknowledge when the time has come. And a lot of people from the outside looking in have concluded that the time has come for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, after a 17-year career that includes two championships and a Hall of Fame resume, to hang it up, including one of his most prominent former teammates.
“100 percent”, it’s time for Roethlisberger to retire, former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said on 93.7 The Fan earlier this week. “It’s the mobility part, and if you’re looking at the AFC North, the three young quarterbacks—they’re young, they’re mobile, and they’ve got playoff experience, and you don’t want to set your organization behind three years”.
Two of the three other starting quarterbacks in the AFC North, anyway, have playoff experience. Lamar Jackson has taken the Baltimore Ravens to the postseason in each of his first three years, with a 1-3 postseason record, recording their first victory earlier this year. Baker Mayfield helped take the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, and defeated the Steelers, but lost in the second round.
“What I mean by three years”, Taylor went on, “is you’ve got to wait for [Roethlisberger] to retire, hopefully you keep the same coordinator. So the first year’s gonna be okay with the offensive coordinator, whoever the quarterback is. The second year they usually flourish under the offensive coordinator. The third year they should be able to sleep. They know who to pass it to”.
Everybody knows at this point that Roethlisberger is nearing the end of his career. The only debate remaining is whether or not he has championship-caliber play left in him, and if he doesn’t, then it makes a lot of sense to move on.
“They’re gonna let Ben rock out til he wants to rock out”, Taylor said of the organization’s plans for Roethlisberger. “You know the Steelers, they’re loyal”.
At this point, it’s pretty clear what is actually going to happen. The front office and Roethlisberger are going to figure out some way to restructure his contract, and he is going to play for at least one more season. But that won’t stop people from having opinions.