The Pittsburgh Steelers are at a crossroads this season in more ways than one. Not only are they teetering on the precipice of the end of an era, they are also in a precarious position in terms of their longitudinal profile. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2016. And they know that they won’t have their franchise quarterback for much longer.
In fact, it’s quite possible that this is Ben Roethlisberger’s final season, a fact of which everybody in the building is well aware. Earlier today, owner Art Rooney II acknowledged those circumstances, but also said that there is always urgency to win, and to not take any season for granted, regardless of the specifics.
“I certainly learned my lesson. I always think about the 1979 season,” he said on SNR earlier today. “We won our fourth Super Bowl in six years, and I don’t think any of us at that point were thinking it’s gonna be another 25 years before we won another championship. So you just can’t take any season for granted as far as I’m concerned.”
The Steelers have practiced what they preach in that regard, and the most notable example of that was the 2019 season. After Roethlisberger was lost for the year by the middle of game two, they traded away a first round pick — something they hadn’t done in 50 years — in order to bring in Minkah Fitzpatrick after Sean Davis was injured.
That was a move both for the present and the future, and they continued to fight throughout that year, even reaching a 8-5 record late in the season and being in position to earn the fifth seed in a year when the Baltimore Ravens went 14-2. It all collapsed after that, of course, but they made no effort to ‘tank,’ which they very well could have, sitting at 0-2 and without a starting quarterback.
“This season is gonna be interesting in a lot of different ways,” Rooney admitted. “This may be Ben’s last year — who knows — and I’m sure he wants to go out in the right way. And we want him to go out in the right way, and I know a lot of the players on the team feel that way.”
The Steelers have had some ‘do it for so-and-so’ seasons, to be certain. Roethlisberger led that effort in 2005 to try to ensure that Jerome Bettis retired with a ring, and, mission accomplished. In 2010, it was Flozell Adams, and there have been others since.
There is none more significant than for the quarterback position, though, of course, Roethlisberger already has two Super Bowl rings. At the end of the day, it’s just a matter of utilizing anything within your reach for motivation, however, because winning a championship is always an end in itself, especially when you play for a franchise like the Steelers.