Answer: Because I believe it is the biggest determining factor for the Steelers’ success in 2020.
I was trying to imagine what some readers may be asking if they took the time to view this final story of my three-part series about Ben Roethlisberger. The question I envision is “Why are you focusing so much on Ben Roethlisberger lately?” The answer is so important, it was already stated first.
In case you missed either of them, I’ve already discussed how Ben Roethlisberger is the biggest reason I’m the crazy Steeler fan that I am. I also laid out how Ben Roethlisberger should be permitted to end his career on his own terms. Keeping this in mind, the biggest thing Ben Roethlisberger needs to do moving forward next season is to be open and honest about his situation.
By no means am I am implying Roethlisberger has not been this way with the franchise. While some speculate Ben was trying to hide his elbow issues before signing his new contract, I haven’t found compelling evidence one way or the other. Perhaps neither Roethlisberger or the Steelers knew about his elbow when he signed on the dotted line. Maybe they both knew. It would be very unfortunate if Ben did know and did not disclose it until after the extension came. If this is the case, the loyalty the Steelers would have to Ben Roethlisberger would probably go out the window. So I’m going to assume that whatever knowledge there was on one side was shared with the other.
But Ben’s contract extension and how it relates to his injury is in the past. What Ben, the Steelers, and all of Steelers’ Nation needs to do is look to the future. With an aging quarterback, the future is now and the most important thing is for the Steelers to win in 2020. In order for this to occur, Ben Roethlisberger needs to be open and honest in a two-fold manner.
Open and honest with the team
Although we’re not getting anything from the Steelers as to Ben’s progress after his surgery, I don’t really blame them for not sharing anything. Maybe there really is nothing to share. The most important thing is Ben Roethlisberger needs to communicate every little thing with the Steelers. If there is any chance Ben is going to be inhibited by the injury in 2020, the Steelers deserve to know. If Ben is feeling great and feels that he’s ready to go, the Steelers need to know. If Ben just isn’t sure how things are going, the Steelers need to know. And with all of these points, they need to know right away.
When a team invests the amount of money into their franchise quarterback, the last thing they can do is sit around and wait. We got a small glimpse of this several years ago when Rothlisberger didn’t instantly dismiss the notion of retirement. While I would never fault someone who needs to think through their decisions and discuss things with their close family, it does put others in a bind at times. Personally, I think the Steelers know exactly what Ben’s plans are. The only question now is the elbow.
Open and honest with himself
As Ben Roethlisberger shares information with the Steelers training and coaching staff, not only does he need to be honest with them, he needs to keep himself grounded in reality throughout the situation. Roethlisberger is turning 38 this year and things don’t heal as fast as they used to. The NFL is a hard career path and, although there are many rules set in place in order to keep quarterbacks healthy long into their career, age doesn’t wait for any man. The wear and tear on the body over the years will take its toll.
Ben Roethlisberger needs to remember this: He’s got a lot of work to do to make his way back in order to play in 2020. There is a big difference between what a player wants to do and what a player is able to do. We see it on every play of every game. Everyone wants to make the block. Everyone wants to make the tackle. But not everybody can.
As Ben goes through rehab and as he gets closer to the time when he can throw again, he has to balance how he wants his 2020 season to play out and how it realistically can. As long as he is open and honest with himself, as well as open and honest with the Steelers, everyone will do all they can to make the best out of the situation.
I can’t say it enough that I hope the best is a Ben Roethlisberger “return to form” in 2020. With him commanding the huddle along with the Steelers young wide receivers, things will just open up exponentially for both the running and passing game. Couple this with the Steelers having one of the most balanced defenses I have seen in a long time, the recipe for success is right there. All that needs answered is the big question coming into the season: Can Ben come back from his first major injury and pick up where he once was?