Big Ben Reiterates His Season-To-Season Approach Following Devastating Bengals Game

It has probably been at least a couple of years now that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has given some level of serious consideration to the future of his playing career. It has only been during this past season that it has been talked about, and during which he himself said that he weighed retiring.

It’s not as though the reasons for the contemplation are unknown. But as he brought up during his radio spot this past week after the violent game against the Bengals, the potential risk for injuries play a tremendous factor in the decision.

After all, you can make a couple hundred million dollars during your playing career, but will it have been worth it if you can’t even walk by the end of it, or perhaps even worse? As he saw his friend and teammate Ryan Shazier laying on the field on Monday night, it only drove the point home further for, frankly, every player in the league.

People get all over me for saying you have to contemplate every year on if you want to keep going”, he said, as transcribed by Jerry DiPaola, but “plays like this make you really evaluate things”, he said. “That’s why I say it’s a smart thing to do. It’s a violent game. And this game always seems to be that way. It’s crazy this sport we play”.

It is crazy, but also crazily lucrative at the top end of the spectrum. Roethlisberger has certainly earned his share of the profits over the course of his 14-year career, and will continue to do so to the tune of tens of millions annually, presumably as long as he continues to play, while also remaining effective.

On his own offspring following in his footsteps, Roethlisberger conceded, “I hope he plays golf”, and many more players are continuing to prefer that their children not play the game. “If he wants to play football, that’s fine, too”, he added. “But it’s a tough sport. It’s not for everyone”.

One of the reasons, he said, that he had to gather himself and the rest of his team following Shazier’s injury was simply because if you’re distracted, you are putting yourself at risk of getting injured yourself. And a few others players did get seriously injured in the game.

That includes Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals linebacker who has hurt Roethlisberger on a number of occasions. “I said a prayer for him there”, he said. “Regardless of what’s happened in the past, regardless of what you think of him as a person or player, anytime someone goes down and is injured you have to feel compassion and feel compelled to pray for that person that he’ll be okay”.

That is why I will never fault anybody for walking away from the game while they still can. I love the game of football about as much as I love anything else, but it’s literally a hazard to your health, and we are still learning just how much so it is.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Steeler Nation!

    No surprise here. You’d expect most players in his age range would begin to look at things on a year to year basis, if they’re telling the truth. Even more so if that championship window disappears.

  • PittShawnC

    Big Ben and the “R” word. Ugh.

    Not something I want to think about

  • No body outruns father time. Much to the dismay of posters on these threads, not even James Harrison can win that battle.

  • pittfan

    double ugh.

  • treeher

    On the positive side, Ben now has an O line that protects him better than at any other time in his career. He’s not taking the punishing hits like he used to, at least not nearly as frequently. He even had a designed run last game! That said, if he gets another ring this year, I will not be surprised if he retires. If he doesn’t get the ring, I will not be surprised if he returns.

  • corduroyninja

    I think it depends on his level of confidence to get more rings. He always used to say his goal was to get more rings than Terry Bradshaw. If he feels they have a realistic shot of winning a few more behind a good O-line, I can see him sticking with it. Then again, having kids changes your perspective and priorities in life.

  • ImMikeD

    I won’t be surprised if BR demands the Steelers find a competent TE for a relief valve like he had with Heath

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Always thought Robert Smith was a smart guy – RB here in MN, where I live, and now works on college football broadcasts – and leaving the sport early. He sure seems happy enough having all of his faculties in place!

  • Bill

    I understand how he feels especially after the Shazier injury. Because he’s such a good player we want him to keep playing and that’s because we’re selfish. It’s also a fact that a lot of folks are employed in occupations that are more dangerous than football while earning orders of magnitude less money. In the end some of us have to weigh the risk of money versus physical well being.
    I’ve watched this game several times and I just don’t see all that many dirty plays. In fact it seemed about average. It seems that because of Shaziers injury, which was not related to dirty play, the violence of this game has been overstated.

  • SilverSteel

    What a well thought out post. Bravo. I work in a factory where people have lost limbs and in other ones, fatalities. We all weigh the risk for the money. No risk, means you ain’t getting paid much. High risk jobs get high risk pay. That’s on us! We have to decide, not change the game every year. People that weld under water, paint hi tension power lines, build bridges and construction work. 1000s of deaths each year. But we weigh the risk and accept it or walk away. For 150 million, I can tolerate a crapload of risk. And I am sure if B.B. were broke, he would change his tune.

  • walter

    Plenty of jobs more dangerous than football and i have worked them for far less money, been injured too but didnt look for someone else to blame or sue.

  • Sammacdon

    “it’s literally a hazard to your health, and we are still learning just how much so it is.”

    I see the violence and I don’t begrudge anyone questioning or opting out. But is it literally a hazard to your health? The life expectancy is higher for NFL players than for men in general. The death rate is lower. And the suicide rate is lower.

    Lots of confounding factors. Should you be comparing NFL players, who are disproportionately African-American, against the general population or against African-Americans? Or should you account for income? Education levels? Urban/rural? The fact that they are elite athletes?

    It’s hard, but if you were looking at a baby and could see into the future, knowing that he was going to play in the NFL generally would cause you to edge his life expectancy up rather than down.

  • RangerBrigade

    It is his decision – but at the end of the year there are $20M reasons to come back. The other thing with Ben, unlike other famous QBs who retire, is it is not likely he could go into broadcasting, make commercials for an easy stream of revenue because of his questionable past. Then again he may know very well what he wants to do next and if he has done the appropriate things financially he is of course set for life. I still generally think he is likely to come back – though a win in the SB could change things.

  • MJK

    not much of a leader, talking this way is the reason people get hurt, focus on what your suppose to do prepare and execute, you don’t control anything else, you clearly are getting a weaker mind.

  • NW86

    “talking this way is the reason people get hurt”

    Huh??

  • Lee Foo Young

    If we win the Super Bowl, I bet he retires. Otherwise, I think he is back for 2018, but that will be it.

    Just an opinion, nothing more.

  • Jones

    Won’t win, but Deebo sure has sucker punched father time a few times, lol

  • Steve Johnson

    His time will come just as it did for Bradshaw and others. I just hope the Franchise doesn’t wait to start looking until then. Start Now! I remember those years after Terry Bradshaw retired, man oh man, they were BRUTAL.

  • Charles Mullins

    GTFO

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    I’m not sure anyone wants to get punched by deebo… lol

  • will

    S.T. do you plan to lecture Ben on the “Sky Wizard”???

  • Crashcrash777

    *When we win the Super Bowl,

    Fixed that for you 🙂

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    I think he still has 4-5 good competitive years left in him behind lines like this in this system. I’m hoping another ring this year whets his appetite for a half dozen more!

    But I’m not the one taking all the ‘targeted’ hits the league always ignores!

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Yeah, the thought of them ever getting a fifth ring seemed ludicrous for a long,long time.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Well, no doubt this Shazier injury certainly doesn’t help us in keeping our franchise QB through the rest of his contract. It would be a truly tragic response if we are literally seeing Ben play his last handful of games for us right now. But I get it. If I were him, and worth hundreds of millions with a growing young family, I’d think long and hard as well. But things are set up so well for Ben right now, that I’m not sure many of us these last few weeks, have even truly contemplated that we may be watching the end of a HOF career. I know I haven’t let that thought creep in.

    I hate to say this, but I have to wonder if this is all going to come down to how this season ends. I’d like to believe that Ben would be rational and logical, but he’s proven in the past to be quite prone to emotions. All we can hope for, is a 3rd ring for Ben and a 7th Lombardi for us and then let the chips fall in the afterglow.

  • AndyR34

    Not yet…he’s running off to Baltimore to reprimand the Ravens. 😂

  • AndyR34

    You mean like the elbow to the head that Dunlop nailed him with? Ref was standing right there…even bent over to help Ben up. You help Ben…and every other QB by flagging that right then and there!

  • will

    Lol

  • Kareem Daniels

    Teddy Bridgewater will be a free agent

  • #7

    They actually did try to address it in a timely manner with a 1st round pick in 1980. Unfortunately that pick was Mark Malone.

  • Charles Mullins

    High risk jobs should be made safer when they can be. Football players don’t get paid because of risk they get paid because they are freaks of nature. Anyone can sign up for risk. Not just anyone can perform the physical feats that they do.

    As employers if they know there is a danger than they need to put fail safes in place for player safety. They are trying but the world is changing very rapidly and that Monday night game might be a catalyst for something big.

  • SilverSteel

    I don’t mind making the game safer through technology like better equipment and fair rules. The rules are vague and enforced inconsistently which in turn is ruining FB. The refs think they are part of the game now. You can tell by their facial expression that some penalties are personal. There is too much subjectivity in the rules. Make them fair and objectively understandable and the game will be fine. Guys don’t know how to play D anymore. Their not allowed.

    The Ju Ju hit was great form. Turned his head and shouldered him in the chest…beautifully. But we got the suspension for the ferocity of the hit not the legality. That subjectivity is killing the game. IMO

  • Charles Mullins

    Yup rules are terrible currently. It will get better with the next CBA, but if you have ever been blindsided you will understand why they are getting rid of it same goes with chop blocks, horse collar tackles and other things that were once considered legal. Accidents will happen but much like my deductible there needs to be consequences. All you have to do is look at old boxers to know that head shots should not be a part of any civilized game.

  • Charles Mullins

    If you end up committing suicide at the age of 43, are found to have CTE, and your employer had a general idea (while making billions) that was your future before you signed up for it, then I hope your spouse seeks financial security.

  • SilverSteel

    Agreed. But leave the physicality…or the game dies. 🤔

  • Steve Johnson

    I must say, we as Steelers Fans have been spoiled. I think we’re headed for a few mediocre years after #7 retires. The good though is this, Colbert and Tomlin has begun the search.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    It’s a little bit scary. I’m too old to go through another dry spell like that 🙀.

  • walter

    Good chance i have CTE after several severe concussions. I suffer from headaches and require a quiet room. I dont think of suicide i must remain strong and i refuse to blame anybody else. I wasnt brought up that way to look for lawsuits. I feel there are too many lawsuits in our country. I just wasnt raised that way.

  • walter

    Some researchers believe that every football player has some form of CTE. Do you want to eliminate the game of football? That may be what happens in the future.

  • Charles Mullins

    Not all lawsuits ar created equal. I wish the best for you. I played against Pat Risha in HS and don’t wish that fate on anyone.

  • walter

    Thanks. I always thought i just suffered from migraine headaches and i have accepted it as part of life. But its possible to be concussion related. I dont really know. I am good if i stay away from the noises or physical activity that might set it off. If football is really so bad then the game should end.

  • Charles Mullins

    The game that we grew up on is gone and they are slowly changing the game to something safer.

  • walter

    This is our year now. We need to win it now. Ben was devastated after losing to New England last year. i think he will be devastated again if we lose.

  • walter

    We should have drafted a TE instead of Dobbs.

  • walter

    I remember Darryl Stingley and then the Buoniconti kid. Its terrible but no one thought about retiring early or calling for the end of football in those days not even Nick Buoniconti, his father. But I can see it coming.