Heading into his 15th season in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger is the oldest player on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster by a significant margin. With the ageless wonder, James Harrison, long gone, the 36-year-old quarterback has four years on the next-oldest player on the team in Ramon Foster (32) and he’s one of only six over-30 players currently on the roster.
While those outside of the league would consider Roethlisberger a relatively young man, in NFL terms, the Steelers star quarterback is entering his twilight years. No longer able to work out like he did when he first entered the league, Roethlisberger understands he needs to take a different approach to offseason training, given his advancing age. As he told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
“It’s a fine line I walk at this age, of resting and getting my body enough rest for the season and working out to prepare. My trainer will get me as prepared as I can be. But it is a fine line of what you can do at this age. You’ve got to listen to your body, any aches and pains you might have, your arm being sore if you’re throwing too much, just things like that.”
As committed as Roethlisberger sounded earlier in the year about his desire to play perhaps as many as four more seasons, the chances of Big Ben still playing when he’s approaching 40 years old seem unlikely. Given the beating he took early in his career behind a porous offensive line, and his overall style of play that invariably results in extra contact, it’s a testament to his strength and conditioning that he’s lasted this long.
Criticized in some quarters for missing most of the team’s voluntary offseason training program in favor of a family holiday, Ben’s absence is perhaps more understandable when you consider the wear and tear on his body from the past 14 seasons. Never one to feature much during preseason as of late, fans should expect to hear about even more veteran rest days for Roethlisberger during training camp this time around. But with Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs waiting in the wings and eager for reps, this might not be a bad thing for the two young quarterbacks if it translates to more opportunities in practice.