Soon enough, Ben Roethlisberger will be moving on to life’s work. But all he’s focused on is the here and now. The Pittsburgh Steelers sit 6-6-1, fighting for their playoff lives, and realistically need to go at last 3-1 over their final four games to get into the playoffs. They need to go on a run, and Roethlisberger knows it. It’s keeping himself pretty occupied in the middle of retirement talk and reports that indicate 2021 will be his last.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Roethlisberger said he’s not considering his future or his legacy.
“I’m living right here, right now,” he said in his weekly press conference. “We gotta make a run. We gotta play good football. We gotta play great football. And that starts with me. So I can’t get caught looking at the end because I need to focus on right here and this week.”
That begins with Sunday’s tough home game against the 9-4 Tennessee Titans, a group that’s battled injury but has overcome them thanks to a good identity and solid coaching. Pittsburgh will have to win the battle up front, running the ball well and stopping it defensively, in order to have a chance. Roethlisberger has played some of his best football as of late, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in Thursday’s failed comeback against the Minnesota Vikings.
While Roethlisberger isn’t thinking about his legacy, he’s certainly leaving a remarkable one. A two-time Super Bowl winner and first ballot Hall of Famer, he was part of a historically good QB class alongside Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Roethlisberger is the only one left from that group with Manning retiring two years ago and Rivers hanging up his cleats this past offseason.
Roethlisberger was asked what he remembered about the careers of quarterbacks he idolized growing up.
“I was lucky, I grew up with that Montana, Elway, Marino, Kelly. I think the hardest thing was watching Joe go to the Chiefs from the Niners. That was really tough. But obviously, you remember Elway won his Super Bowls there at the end.”
Roethlisberger wears #7 because of Elway, though the odds of him being able to replicate a Super Bowl victory on his way out the door aren’t very good. There’s been some idle speculation that Roethlisberger would play for another team in 2022 if the Steelers don’t bring him back. But Roethlisberger has repeatedly said the Steelers are the only team he’ll play for, and his comments about Montana leaving the 49ers may reinforce that.
For Steelers’ Nation, regardless of outcome, they should enjoy these final four games. They’re likely to be Roethlisberger’s last ones. And if, unfortunately, the Steelers get eliminated from playoff contention, perhaps Roethlisberger will be able to reflect a bit at the very end.