The Pittsburgh Steelers have one year left with Ben Roethlisberger, or so it would seem, as the veteran moves into his 18th season, whether the fans are happy about it or not. Many have questioned him this offseason, particularly in terms of his ability to perform the mechanical functions required of the position.
Others have, more unfairly, doubted his other attributes, particularly his willingness and desire, which as far as I’m concerned have never been in question. While he has talked about contemplating retirement before, when he does commit to a season, he does so wholeheartedly.
And the driving for remains, as always, the desire to win championships. Last year before the start of the season, he talked about wanting to still win multiple championships, already having two in the bag, and having had a third championship game showing. He may only have one final shot at it, depending on how things go this year, but it’s what he’s committed to.
“The passion for the sport, wanting to be the best, continuing, striving. I think if you ever tell yourself or tell someone that you’re already there, you’ve made it, you’re the best, then you’re in trouble”, he said recently on the Along for the Ride podcast. “If you’re ever satisfied with where you’re at, then you should just be done”.
“I think that’s what always drove me to be better”, he continued. “I want to win more championships. I want to keep winning for the city, for fans. I’ve wanted to win for teammates who haven’t had the feeling of winning Super Bowls. It’s not about personal or individual stats for me. It’s all about team and winning a championship”.
The desire to win a championship for others has been a resonant theme throughout Roethlisberger’s career. After failing in the conference finals in his rookie season, he famously helped coax running back Jerome Bettis to come back for one more year, that they would win a trophy for him—of course, they did.
Championship quests for others followed. In most recent years, his goal has been to win a title for his linemen, but he sees those opportunities now slipping away. Ramon Foster retired after the 2019 season. Maurkice Pouncey just retired. Alejandro Villanueva is likely to be gone. David DeCastro is the final remaining longstanding man up front.
But there is no shortage of teammates who still need a championship. Cameron Heyward is going into his second decade now, and hasn’t ever even played in the AFC Championship game (he was injured in 2016 when they last reached the conference finals).
There is still plenty for which to play for Ben Roethlisberger as he enters perhaps his final season at the age of 39. It’s not about stats or numbers, other than winning. At this point, it’s not even so much winning for himself as it is winning for others. And that’s just fine, because it’s as good a motivator as any.