2021 Offseason Questions: Is Ben Roethlisberger Actually Motivated By Media Critiques?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.

Question: Is Ben Roethlisberger actually motivated at a different level this season based on criticism from the media?

It’s become an annual tradition in Pittsburgh to observe the Roethlisberger cycle, during which he goes to, according to commentators, being out of shape, to suddenly being in the best shape of his life or in the last 10 years, or some variation.

While I’m sure it’s the case that he hasn’t every season of his career been on the top of his physical conditioning, there are plenty of false memories of him somehow being vastly out of shape. He has tweaked his regimen here and there, though. He started working with a personal trainer a few years ago, a teammate once said.

Now the story is that Roethlisberger is so fueled by his critics this offseason that he is fundamentally changing the way that he goes about things, even down to his diet. It’s possible that he has changed his diet, of course, but establishing that it’s at least in part a byproduct of his being driven by his critics is something of a stretch, perhaps, or at least not simple to prove.

Take it for what it’s worth, but Roethlisberger has said in the past that he doesn’t read what’s said about him, though he might hear some things from his wife, who gets more upset about the criticisms than he does. I’m sure some things have gotten back to him. But has it driven him to eat kale?

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