Baby Ben Roethlisberger makes his dad thankful

Joe Robbins

Ben and Ashley Roethlisberger welcomed the newest Steeler into the world last night.

I've been eagerly watching the twitterverse for an update on the Roethlisberger baby situation ever since Jim Wexell tweeted yesterday that Ben said he couldn't talk, as he had a call from his wife. Wexell asked if it was The Call, and Roethlisberger said he didn't know.

But apparently it was. As I was about to give up and head to the kitchen for OTAs (Organized Thanksgiving Activities) I decided to have one more look, and my patience was rewarded. Here is the scoop, directly from Roethlisberger's website:

We would like to let everyone know that last night at 10:06 PM Ashley and I welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby boy into this world.

Benjamin Jr. is 7 lbs. 1 oz. and 19-1/2 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing well.

We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, it really means a lot to us. God is so good!

We will have pictures to post this weekend.

We hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving! – Ben, Ashley, and Benjamin

Congratulations are in order to the whole family, and I deliver them in a heartfelt manner! But this is Behind the Steel Curtain. You don't come here for the ordinary, run-of-the-mill re-publishing of the news everyone else has. You come here for incisive commentary, thoughtful analysis, and a sense of history. So I'll take it to the next level.

First, the history. Beginning with 1970 (that seems far enough back to me,) as far as I can tell, Roethlisberger is the only starting Steelers quarterback to become a father, either during the season or in the off-season. Tommy Maddox had two children, both of whom were born before he came to Pittsburgh. Terry Bradshaw has two children, both of whom were born after he left Pittsburgh. Kordell Stewart has a son, who I believe was born after he left Pittsburgh. It's frustrating just how difficult it is to gather this information. If any of the former quarterbacks wish to correct my assertion, you can find me through my profile.

Perhaps because of this lack of precedent, it caused a bit of a stir earlier this season when Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette he wouldn't miss the birth of his son just because of a football game. The debate raged throughout Steeler Nation as to whether this was okay or not. I don't know what the consensus was elsewhere, but on BTSC I was heartened to see the commentary coming down firmly on the side of Roethlisberger.

Fifty years ago the father was considered to be at best a nuisance at a birth. This has changed as research has shown how important the immediate bonding between the father and the child is, not just between the child and the mother.

And for that matter, let's think about the mother in these circumstances. It's no walk in the park to have a baby. As a woman who bore four children without the aid of drugs, I can tell you the father serves a critical function at several points in the labor process. This can vary from getting ice chips to getting the nurse when the staff has failed to notice the baby attempting to deliver itself, but perhaps the most critical function is as a sounding board. As in, "Who thought this was a good idea, anyhow?" I leave the other heartfelt comments delivered by the mother to the father at this emotional time to your collective imaginations.

Although he had never revealed the actual due date, speculation has long been rife that the child was due right around Ravens-fest. Ironically, Roethlisberger made the question moot by taking himself out during the second half of the Chiefs game. And although the injury seemed extremely serious at first, the news yesterday that Ben was seen without the sling, able to remove his shirt over his head without difficulty, sets the stage for a possible comeback for the second Ravens game.

And, appropriately, this is Thanksgiving. Steeler Nation has needed some good news on the quarterback front, and this certainly qualifies. Many are already asking how soon Benjamin Jr. can get on the field. But casting my eye over the stats, I have to say he looks a bit undersized.

Frankly, I was expecting Big Ben's son to be, well, big, but compared to my younger daughter's gargantuan outputs (three boys over nine pounds at birth, and a girl almost as big) I'm a bit disappointed. Fortunately Baby Ben's mom is in the health-care industry (she is a physician's assistant) and will know how to feed him to get him up to speed quickly.

And for all we know, Ben Sr. was equally unpromising at birth. (Strangely, none of the major sites such as Pro Football Reference, ESPN Player Stats, and so on had his birthweight and length available. I hope they realize just how this oversight compromises their credibility.)

But enough of the analysis. This is great news on all fronts, and once again I give my hearty congratulations to the Roethlisberger family. May we all be equally blessed on this Thanksgiving day.

P.S. In choosing the section for this article, I noted one of my choices was "Who Powered Through." While it seemed appropriate, I stuck to the more conventional "Latest News."

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