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It will be a sad day when Ben Roethlisberger retires, but that day isn’t here yet

Ben Roethlisberger will retire one day, but if Saturday night’s dress-rehearsal preseason game against the Lions was any indication, that day may not come for quite awhile. Enjoy his greatness while you still can.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t you just feel silly? I’m talking about this past offseason when you wanted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get on with his life’s work.

Why ask a genius in their field to leave before they’re ready? That just doesn’t make any sense, right?

Sam Darnold? Dwayne Haskins? Mason Rudolph? Some wet-behind-the-ears first-round draft pick? Why are so many people so quick to want to move on from Roethlisberger’s talents in favor of what those dudes could possibly bring to the Steelers’ offense? Just so they can say they’re right? I can see that. After all, we’re in an age where social media is omnipresent; to paraphrase the late Andy Warhol: “Everyone now gets their 15 minutes of hot takes and opinions.”

I think it’s more satisfactory for some to say they’re right than it is to see the Steelers do great things on the football field.

I know a lot of media members who are secretly hoping Roethlisberger falls flat in 2021 (they know who they are). And it’s not because they hate the Steelers or even Roethlisberger (although, it’s hard not to think some do at this point); it’s because they want to be “right” about a hot Twitter take or some radio rant.

They want to say the Steelers were wrong for holding onto Roethlisberger’s talent until they were sure every last bit of it was gone.

Who wouldn’t want to cling to what a quarterback like Roethlisberger is capable of doing for an offense until he’s no longer able to do it?

I certainly hope most people were convinced of Roethlisberger’s greatness and continued importance when he started the Steelers’ third preseason contest against the Lions at Heinz Field on Saturday night—the (say it with me) all-important dress-rehearsal game.

In Roethlisberger’s short time in the game, a game the Steelers ultimately won, 26-20, he completed eight of 10 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad stat line and one that included a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

But the statistics didn’t really tell the story of Roethlisberger’s greatness on Saturday; if you watched him in action, your eyes did.

The 43-yard bomb to Diontae Johnson was a little more on the nose than the often disingenuously humble Roethlisberger claimed it was when he gave his young receiver most of the credit for that play during his post-game presser.

What about those two laser strikes to rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth that resulted in touchdowns? Yes, there’s a lot to be excited about with that youngster, but what about the oldster throwing him the football? Would Darnold, Haskins, Rudolph or some wet-behind-the-ears first-round pick have been able to give Freiermuth multiple chances to put his undeniable red zone prowess on display by placing those passes where they needed to be? And that pump fake before the first touchdown? Ouch...if your major elbow surgery didn’t take, that is. Roethlisberger’s obviously did, and that’s why he’s been able to continue doing his patented pump fake, the one where you always wonder how he holds onto the darn ball. (I guess a Big Ben would naturally have big hands.)

And the play when Roethlisberger’s protection broke down and he scrambled to keep things alive long enough to unleash an almost perfect pass to veteran tight end Eric Ebron deep down the field? I’d try and describe it to you, but No. 7 ran in so many different directions on that play, my description would look sillier in text than the Lions’ defenders trying to chase him down on the field. If you’ve watched Roethlisberger over the past 18 years, however, you can probably imagine it.

Ebron dropped the pass. Naturally, he’s catching heck because it reinforced the notion that he drops too many balls—judging by his drop rate, it’s hard to argue with that notion.

However, I don’t think Ebron will get many more opportunities to drop perfect passes like the one that found his breadbasket on Saturday night.

Most quarterbacks Ebron plays with after Roethlisberger is no longer his teammate will get sacked long before they have a chance to make such a throw.

Roethlisberger is special. Always has been. That’s why it was so funny to read comments from people this past offseason such as, “This Big Ben love is alarming,” or “What’s with this Big Ben cult?”

Believe me, it’s not cultist behavior to want to see a team stick with a future Hall of Fame quarterback with Roethlisberger’s talents. You also don’t have to be “smart” to be in a group that enjoys Roethlisberger’s play. It’s actually kind of dumb to want to move away from a guy like that and start over.

What’s the rush? You know what will likely happen once Roethlisberger does retire; that’s right, you’ll finally get more chances to see the Steelers draft in the top 10.

I’m in no hurry to experience that.

Does Roethlisberger throw interceptions in the playoffs? Sure, but he also throws for a lot of yards and touchdowns, too.

It’s like what Terry Bradshaw once said to Dwight White when White hit him too hard in practice one afternoon. “You might lose with me, but you’ll never win without me.”

Every team needs a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s greatness in order to win a title. It will be a sad day when he finally retires, but that day isn’t here just yet.

It appears that Ben Roethlisberger’s life’s work still involves being a super-talented NFL quarterback.

Let’s keep enjoying it until we can’t.