Going from franchise, Super Bowl winning quarterback to a pseudo Quarterbacks Coach in the blink of an eye has to be a tough spot. That is exactly what happened to Ben Roethlisberger in 2019 when he left the game vs. the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 with a season-ending elbow injury.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback had never been ruled out for the duration of a season before, and it certainly wasn’t an easy task for a competitor like Roethlisberger. However, what he told SiriusXM NFL Radio hosts Bruce Murray and (his former teammate) Bruce Gradkowski recently was how there could be a silver lining to his cloud.
It added fuel to his fire...
“It was tough on the sidelines this year. … I think it really put a little fire into me, like, ‘This is not the end for me. This is now how I’m going out. I’m going to go bust my butt and I’m going to give it everything I have to just give myself a chance to just come back and try to and better than ever.’ I know that sounds kind of as you can get older in life to get better. Yeah, your physical attributes might fall off, you might not be as fast or as big or whatever, but you still can be as sharp because you can be mentally sharp and you can maybe hone your skills differently. I’ve been doing it for a long time but I still feel like I got gas in the tank and I’m excited.”
If there is another motivation for Roethlisberger in 2020 it has to be the Steelers defense. He watched as the defense went from much maligned, to an elite unit in the NFL. The thought of having a top tier defense to help aid the offense was a pleasant surprise.
“To me that was one of the exciting things to watch this year from the sideline, was that defense. They were fun. Some key additions. Guys just stepping up, taking their game to another level. Man was it fun watching those edge rushers come off the edge. It reminded me of [James] Harrison and [LaMarr] Woodley. And it was neat to see on the back-end, seeing Minkah [Fitzpatrick], seeing [Terrell Edmunds] and all those guys and the way that our corners were playing. That whole defense was so much fun to watch. And so I am excited to come back because I think that they’re going to be an integral part of a potential championship run, which is what we’re all looking for.”
The 2020 NFL Draft is coming up in less than a week, and of course Roethlisberger was asked about his thought on the potential of the Steelers drafting a quarterback. Roethlisberger isn’t immune to this situation. Roethlisberger most recently went through watching Mason Rudolph being drafted, and him having some choice words for the organization after the pick was made.
Roethlisberger is singing a slightly different tune now...
“They have to do what they have to do. We’ve got some quarterbacks on the roster but if they feel like there’s a better one out there then they got to go get him. And that’s their prerogative. That’s why they’re the owners, the GMs and the coaches and we just play. It’s not going to change my mindset, my mentality, my motivation. I’m trying to come off an injury, so I’m going to give it everything I have. If they go draft a quarterback with our first pick in the second [round] it’s not like it’s going to make me go out there and try to be any better because I’m already trying to do that anyway, you know?”
Lastly, Roethlisberger was asked about the thought of Tom Brady playing in Tampa Bay for the Buccaneers. There are a lot of connections in Tampa with the Steelers. Former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is the head coach, and former teammate Byron Leftwich is the offensive coordinator. Roethlisberger is excited for Brady.
“I was excited for him because I knew who he was going to play for in Bruce Arians. And he’s going to enjoy the heck out of that because he was fun to play for. Byron Leftwich, I texted Byron and said, like, ‘Hey, don’t screw it up.’ And he said, ‘All I got to do is get out of the way.’ It’s going to be good for him. I’m excited for all of them.”
Roethlisberger seems at peace in the waning years of his career, but it was great to hear there is still a fire burning to not just compete, but to win it all. Can the Steelers get the job done in 2020? That has yet to be determined, but if they do they will need No. 7 on the field and at full strength.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft and the announcement of the 2020 regular season.