Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger celebrated his 39th birthday on Tuesday, and it seemed like few people noticed.
There wasn’t even a parade; that was probably a good thing for me because I would have shown up with a picture of Big Ben and cried hysterically at the sight of him just like people do when they see their favorite oppressive dictator (I never know if those tears are real or for preservation).
Anyway, if someone told me that Roethlisberger invented the hamburger and learned to drive a car by the age of three, I would totally believe it.
There isn’t anything that Roethlisberger can’t do, even at the age of 39. He’s part of the reason I’ve spent the past 11 years or so writing tons of articles about the Steelers; I doubt someone like Bubby Brister would have fleshed out the writer in me—no offense to him.
I don’t know how much longer Roethlisberger will be around to celebrate birthdays as the lead singer of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I will cherish every last moment until he finally rides off into the sunset for good.
Before Roethlisberger, I didn’t really know Steelers championships or how it felt to celebrate one. Soon after Roethlisberger’s birth atop Steeler Mountain many years ago, I got to experience that Lombardi feeling. It was a strange sensation, though. I mean, I didn’t actually do anything to help Pittsburgh defeat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, but I still felt the urge to go out and celebrate with everyone. I didn’t because I was drunk as heck, but at least the urge was there.
Roethlisberger came along and took the Steelers franchise from a state of looking to the past and helped it ascend back to the top of the football world.
I’ll always be grateful that Roethlisberger was the transformative player that he was. It’s hard to find that franchise quarterback, the guy with the “it” factor. And when someone has “it,” you just know. For whatever reason, I knew that night in San Diego early in the 2005 season—Roethlisberger’s second in Pittsburgh. He didn’t even finish the game—Charlie Batch did thanks to a knee injury suffered by No. 7 on what would be a game-winning field goal drive—but Roethlisberger did most of the heavy lifting before exiting.
The next day, I wrote an article about it on Craigslist (don’t judge), and I was more than confident the Steelers had just found their next Terry Bradshaw. Here we are, 16 years later, and I’m still proud of myself for simply knowing greatness in a quarterback when I saw it.
The Steelers have mostly gone as far as Roethlisberger has taken them during his storied career, and that’s likely to be the case again in 2021.
I don’t really like this saying all that much (it’s too 1950s for me), but if you’re reading this, Big Ben (and chances are that you’re not considering you think the Internet is a myth made up by western culture), I hope you make many people, people that wanted you to retire or get cut, eat a bunch of crow in 2021.
But until then, eat a piece of birthday cake. It’s on me. It’s the least I can do for all the memories you’ve given me.
Happy birthday to Big Ben, happy birthday to you.