Ben Roethlisberger was blessed to have a tremendous amount of success early in his career. He went 13-0 as a rookie and advanced to the conference championship that year, only to become the youngest starter quarterback to win a Super Bowl a year later. By his fifth season, he had already joined the relatively exclusive club of starting quarterbacks with two rings.
That was, however, back in 2008. We’re heading into the 2021 season now, and all of those he played with on those teams are gone—most of them long gone. And that is especially true of the offensive line. With Ramon Foster, coming into the league in 2009, retiring in 2020, and Maurkice Pouncey, drafted in 2010, retiring earlier this month, David DeCastro is the longest-tenured man up front as a 2012 draft pick.
Roethlisberger and Pouncey had long talked about retiring together, but at least so far as we currently know, the latter beat him to the punch, as Roethlisberger has stated that he intends to continue playing. But according to Foster, it wasn’t easy, and he even enlisted his help.
“Before Maurkice actually told me, Ben did reach out to me and he asked me, he was like, ‘Ramon, you and Maurkice are tight. Is there any way you could talk to him as far as coming back?’”, Foster said last week on the Poni and Mueller Show.
That is in line with the reports that we heard earlier this offseason, that Pouncey was contemplating retirement and Roethlisberger was trying to talk him out of it. Obviously, it didn’t work. But one of the reasons he pushed so hard was pretty simple.
“I’ll say this. Ben is willing to put 10 toes down on Heinz Field to try to get another ring”, Foster said. “I know that with a passion, that is a passion of his. And I know for sure that, this group, he’s been a captain to get everybody a ring, as far as his o-line group”.
Roethlisberger already watched Foster retire without a ring. He didn’t want to see it happen with another of his starters, but it did. Marcus Gilbert didn’t get one either, though he technically is not retired, just no longer on the team. Making his linemen champions has been one of the driving forces for him for a while now.
“I know for sure that when all of us became more mature, like year four, five, six, seven into the league, he kind of made it his duty to really try to get us a ring, and I know he feels some type of way about not being able to do that”, Foster said.
Whether he likes it or not, 2021 may very well be his final opportunity, because there are certainly no guarantees that the Steelers will be interested in retaining him beyond this season—obviously depending on his play. And they still have to come to some agreement on his contract status for this season.