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A Letter From the Editor: Why have the Steelers been mum on the nature of Ben Roethlisberger’s injury?

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The Pittsburgh Steelers organization hasn’t been very open about Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, but why?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season was marred by inconsistent quarterback play. Whether it was Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, or the Mason Rudolph/Devlin Hodges show which followed, the quarterback play was well below the line, as Mike Tomlin would say.

Roethlisberger is scheduled to be back in 2020 ready to roll, barring a setback, and when this video was released a few weeks ago the fan base went crazy.

I get it, I went wild too. I even wrote an article about how excited I was about it. But the one thing I couldn’t get out of my head while doing a podcast was why the Steelers have been so mum on the nature of his injury.

Since the injury occurred during the Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field, nothing has been stated about what type of injury he had, and what procedure he had done to repair his elbow.

This from Brooke Pryor’s run-down of Roethlisberger’s timeline to return:

What kind of surgery did Roethlisberger have?

We don’t know specifics, only that the Sept. 23 surgery performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles was to repair the elbow in his throwing arm. General manager Kevin Colbert was asked directly two weeks ago if it was Tommy John surgery, and Colbert didn’t comment. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported in December that Roethlisberger’s surgery was to reattach three tendons in his elbow.

She continues...

When was Roethlisberger injured?

The question seems easy enough, but we don’t know exactly how long Roethlisberger dealt with the elbow pain before he exited the field at halftime of the Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Rudolph told reporters Roethlisberger disclosed to him after the Week 1 loss that he was experiencing some pain, while longtime teammate Maurkice Pouncey told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Roethlisberger had been dealing with elbow soreness “for the last few years.” The Steelers and coach Mike Tomlin were each fined during the season for failing to list Roethlisberger on the injury report leading up to the Week 2 game.

After reading this, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why?”

Why not disclose the nature of the injury?

Why not talk about what procedure was done to repair the ligament damage?

This isn’t the NHL, where players’ injuries are described in vague terms like:

“Upper Body Injury”

“Lower Body Injury” or...

“An injury which is week to week”

In hockey they do this to prevent the opposition from targeting the injured area and potentially re-injuring it, or making it worse. If you watch hockey enough, you get it. But the thing about this is we all know what Roethlisberger injured. Anyone with eyes and ears knows exactly what happened in Week 2, and after.

So why keep everything on the down low? Why not come out and say, “Ben severed a trio of ligaments in his elbow, and the procedure which will be done is similar to, but not Tommy John surgery.”

Or if they said, “Ben tore several ligaments in his elbow and will require Tommy John surgery to repair the damage done.”

Would either matter? If anything it would give the media/fans an idea as to when he might be deemed healthy enough to return to throwing. Is there harm in that? I realize a player has confidentiality when it comes to their lives, but I just can’t fathom a situation where this information was considered top secret.

Do they think a pass rusher like Myles Garrett or Geno Atkins would hit Roethlisberger differently after knowing he had Tommy John surgery instead of the alternative? Do they think players will handle him differently?

But that is exactly the way it seems the organization is playing it off.

Let me make something clear, this isn’t about what we, as fans, should or shouldn’t know. The organization is tight-lipped for a reason, but for the life of me I can’t wrap my head around why this injury was/is handled in this fashion.

Chalk it up to one of life’s mysteries, and the hope is when Roethlisberger returns this offseason, all will be forgotten. In fact, knowing Roethlisberger’s knack for spilling the beans I’m sure he will go on a radio show, or do an interview, and tell the world exactly what the Steelers have been trying to keep quiet for months now.

Then there will be all the talk about Roethlisberger being a diva and a new news cycle will have been created and fans will be left thinking about the Steelers as if it were a soap opera once again.

“Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives”.