Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time since he suffered a major elbow injury in Week 2 of 2019 and was forced to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery.
Roethlisberger said a lot of things during his virtual chat with reporters, including how he had been dealing with discomfort in his elbow for years, that he finally felt he had reached a point of no return with his elbow after a deep pass to receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the game against the Seahawks at Heinz Field and that he had to have three torn flexor tendons reattached during his surgery.
Roethlisberger also mentioned that he’s lighter than he’s been in many years and is determined to come back better than ever.
It was nice to hear from Roethlisberger and listen to him put his own spin on last season’s ordeal that had just about every supporter of the team wondering if he’d ever come back and be anywhere near the player he was before. But other than providing some fresh early-August news in the form of the franchise quarterback finally talking to the media and throwing in some of his patented Big Ben injury flair “From what I’ve been told, it’s never happened to a quarterback of this magnitude. I believe there was at least another quarterback that had one, maybe two torn off, but from what I understand, not three.”, what Roethlisberger said on Tuesday didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.
And what I already know is that Roethlisberger’s health should be the least of the Steelers concerns as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.
Yes, of course, they should be concerned about the physical condition of their meal ticket, their franchise, their most expensive asset and least expendable commodity, but that goes without saying for a professional football team with common sense.
The Steelers are doing the usual things you’d expect with Roethlisberger early on in training camp, such as placing him on a daily “pitch count” and monitoring his condition the next day.
But that’s standard practice for most teams with veteran franchise quarterbacks, major elbow surgery or no major elbow surgery.
Maybe this is easy for me to say, being an outsider, but I haven’t really been worried about Roethlisberger since shortly after he was spotted throwing his first post-surgical football in some gym somewhere in California way back in February. You, like me, may refer to that era as The Before Time.
That’s right, the whole world has changed since February, and I’ve spent the past five months or so worrying about lots of other things. But since this is a Steelers article, in that sense, I’ve been concerned about whether or not they’ll actually play the 2020 season, considering COVID-19 has been on the longest drive in the history of football.
Now that it looks like the virus will reluctantly kick the football off after scoring many touchdowns (I know that’s not how it works, but the virus is playing under pandemic rules), will the NFL go on a long drive of its own, or will it be a quick three and see you in 2021?
These are now my major concerns in a football/Steelers sense.
As for Roethlisberger, maybe I’m just overly-confident in modern sports medicine—we are nearly a decade removed from running back Adrian Peterson suffering a torn ACL one season and then coming within nine yards of breaking the single-season rushing mark the next—but I have no doubt he is back.
As I alluded to earlier, all the things Roethlisberger mentioned, we kind of already knew prior to his virtual presser on Tuesday.
Many suspected something wasn’t quite right with Roethlisberger’s arm in recent years (or at least we were hoping so) based on the shakiness of his deep throws, particularly in 2018. It was either age or an injury, and major surgery or not, I’ll always take injury as a reason for poor play over age any day of the week. Why? I’ll refer you once more to modern medicine and my Adrian Peterson example.
As for those three flexor tendons? I don’t know if any other quarterback has undergone a surgery of that magnitude (you never know with Big Ben injury speak), but we’ve known about the three tendon reattachments for months.
What about Roethlisberger’s rehab and whether or not his elbow is on the way back to 100 percent? In addition to the gym throw in February, there was that hype video months later of him throwing passes to James Conner, Ryan Switzer and Smith-Schuster.
As for Roethlisberger’s fitness, he didn’t have to tell us he’s lighter than he has been in years—it’s visually obvious. Actually, when you combine Roethlisberger’s trim waistline with that neatly trimmed beard, he looks about as handsome as he ever has during his 17-year career.
The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers may encounter 99 problems, but Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically-repaired elbow likely won’t be one of them.
I think he’s all the way back.