Ben Roethlisberger is known for being one of the toughest quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. He played through broken noses and high-ankle sprains numerous times, along with countless other injuries. Despite all of this he still had his moments when he was scared.
One of those moments was the first snap of his NFL career. Coming in for the injured Tommy Maddox, Roethlisberger had to go face to face with the vaunted Baltimore Ravens’ defense. On his podcast, Footbahlin’, he recalled how he felt in the lead up to his first snap.
“What I remember [from] the first one is being scared to death,” recalled Roethlisberger. “Because it was in Baltimore, and it was like I lined up under center and Ray Lewis is standing this far from me because he is up at the line trying to intimidate me like yelling, barking at me like all this ‘Rookie I’m gonna get you.’ It was scary.”
Roethlisberger’s first snap came in the third quarter, and overall his first game wasn’t all that impressive by eventual Roethlisberger standards. In less than two quarters Roethlisberger went 12 of 20 for 176 yards and tossed two touchdowns and two interceptions. Not bad for a guy going against a Ray Lewis- and Ed Reed-led defense.
Despite not being able to lead the Steelers to a victory it ushered in an era where he would eventually lead them to 165 wins and two Super Bowls. But all good things come to an end and Roethlisberger retired after the 2021 season.
Roethlisberger also talked about what he considers his last NFL snap, his kneel down against the Cleveland Browns in his final home game.
“The last one was just so surreal because I didn’t think I’d go back out there,” he said. “To be able to go back out there and take a knee and have the ball in your hands (was special).”
Roethlisberger played two games after that, a win at the Baltimore Ravens and a loss in the playoffs to the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite this, I’m with Roethlisberger in remembering his last game snap being that kneel down against the Browns, after which Big Ben got a Kobe Bryant-esque sendoff at the stadium then known as Heinz Field.
That is a much better memory than the absolute blowout suffered at Arrowhead Stadium.