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Clock is ticking for Roethlisberger and the Steelers

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turned 32 on Sunday. While team gm Kevin Colbert has recently suggested his quarterback still has "a lot of tread on the tires," the clock is still ticking for the franchise to surround Roethlisberger with as much talent as possible in order to make one more championship run before there is no more tread remaining.

Jared Wickerham

As I sat in my living room on the morning of September  2, 1982, and I heard the radio announcer say, "Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw turns 34, today," I thought, "Wow, that's old."

I was 10, at that point, and everyone was old to me, but I was still wise enough to know it actually was very old for a professional football player.

Most astute Steelers fans know the rest of the story: After a strike-shortened '82 season, Bradshaw had to have elbow surgery prior to the 1983 season, played one half of one game that year, and never played again after that.

And that brings me to Pittsburgh's current multiple Super Bowl winning quarterback, one Ben Roethlisberger, who turned 32 years old on Sunday.

At 41, I'm well-aware that EVERY NFL player is now younger than me, but despite being age-envious, I'm still rational enough to know 32 is fairly old for a professional football player.

I didn't blink an eye when Roethlisberger turned 28, 29, or even 31, but for some reason, 32 is just glaring because it's a realization that the clock is ticking.

When Roethlisberger is done, he's obviously going to be hard to replace.

The Dolphins still haven't been able to find the next Dan Marino; Denver spent 13 seasons trying to replace John Elway, before he, himself, as team vice president, signed 36 year old Peyton Manning to make the franchise a Super Bowl contender, once again.

Whether you love him or are annoyed by him,  Roethlisberger is the Steelers greatest chance for winning another Super Bowl. And this is why it's paramount the franchise finds a way out of this salary cap mess it's been in since the last  championship run and turns over the roster as fast as possible.

It's easier said than done, of course, as this will require expert financial and personnel decisions by the front office and also depend upon some major contributions coming from recent draft classes--Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, Cortez Allen, Jarvis Jones, Le'Veon Bell and Markus Wheaton are just some of the men who must quickly get while the gettin' is good--and a major influx of talent from the upcoming drafts, including May 8, when Pittsburgh selects 15th in the first round

The sports world is often a relentlessly cyclical one.

It wasn't that long ago that the Seahawks and 49ers were league laughingstocks, but today, they're arguably the two most talented teams in the NFL, while Pittsburgh, a recent league juggernaut, faces much uncertainty about its future.

This article isn't  suggesting the almost tired refrain of keeping Roethlisberger injury-free at all costs by wrapping him in a protective bubble of safe passes and a dominant ground game.  It's about recognizing the urgency of the next year or two, and how imperative it is to turn this thing around and give No. 7 another window to bring the franchise more championship hardware.

Steelers gm Kevin Colbert recently stated he thinks Roethlisberger still has a lot of tread remaining on the tires.

To me, that's an encouraging point-of-view because it indicates a willingness to continue to build the franchise around its most important player.

I hope it also indicates a sense of urgency because, while some tires are more durable than others, they all lose their tread eventually.