Boy this sure is feeling familiar, isn’t it? The Pittsburgh Steelers have a big topic during the offseason about a very prominent player, and then all of a sudden all of the major sports media outlets are bringing in said player’s former teammate for their opinions.
We already heard from Ryan Clark, which we covered yesterday. Today, we’re talking about one of Ben Roethlisberger’s earlier teammates—in fact, a player he only spent two-plus years with—in Plaxico Burress. The former first-round receiver left Pittsburgh after Roethlisberger’s rookie season in 2004, but would later play one more season at the end of his career back with the Steelers, which honestly I kind of forgot about until I started writing this paragraph.
Burress was guest on the KJZ show on ESPN yesterday with Keyshawn Johnson asking him about Roethlisberger and what he expects to happen between him and the Steelers. This was his answer specifically when he was asked if he thinks he will be back with the team in 2021:
I don’t think Ben’s ready to quit. I really believe that, knowing him and understanding how competitive he is. I don’t think that he’s ready to hang it up and quit. But I also think that he should finish his career in Pittsburgh, with that being said. I think he’ll be under center for one more season, but I don’t see him entering into free agency or whatever the case may be or seeking a trade to chase another ring. He’s a two-time world champion. I honestly believe that he will finish his career in Pittsburgh, however that may happen.
One wonders if Burress didn’t at some level regret leaving Pittsburgh in the first place. Even though he would go on to get a ring in New York with Eli Manning, catching a Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass, I also think his comments reflect a level of appreciation for the organization.
Of course, it was only up to him so much. The Steelers had to decide between him and Hines Ward whom to keep at wide receiver for a long-term basis, and it seemed as though they decided that Ward would be the more valuable in the long run.
Both were great players, but Ward helped define basically the first half of Roethlisberger’s career, with Antonio Brown taking his place for the second half. Now, he’s watching JuJu Smith-Schuster quite possibly leave in free agency. Will his final season in the league come with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool as his last cast of primary targets?