I was actually writing a BTSC article about the unretiring of quarterback Tom Brady on Monday afternoon when I got a call from my brother.
My brother was calling to tell me that the Steelers had agreed to terms on a two-year deal with quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
My first reaction was “wow.” My second thought was how fast this all went down. After talking to my brother about the transaction for a few minutes, I uttered the statement that would become the title for this article: “I never thought I’d be rooting for Mitch Trubisky as the Steelers' next starting quarterback, but here we are.”
Think about all of those years when fans like me wondered when the Steelers would find the successor to Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and who it would be. Sure, there were internal possibilities over the last decade of Roethlisberger’s career—including Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph—as well as external desires—including Patrick Mahomes and Sam Darnold (pre-draft and post-bust).
Fact is, it’s still not set in stone as to who the Steelers' very next starting quarterback will be, considering the draft is about six weeks away and Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett will have to be selected by someone—perhaps by a team with a bridge quarterback.
Also, Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins theoretically still have a shot.
But while it’s not set in stone, it sure looks like Trubisky is going to get the first crack at replacing Roethlisberger at quarterback. When it comes to that, I immediately remember where I was in February of 1984 when it was announced on the news that Pittsburgh had acquired quarterback David Woodley from the Miami Dolphins in a trade. Terry Bradshaw, who missed all but one half of the 1983 campaign, had yet to announce his official retirement, but it seemed like he was leaning in that direction.
Cliff Stoudt, who had just inked a deal to play in the USFL, was essentially the first quarterback to try to fill Bradshaw’s shoes when he stepped in for the Blond Bomber as the full-time starter in ‘83, but nobody knew Bradshaw’s career was essentially over during that time.
Everyone knew Bradshaw was done by the time Woodley opened the 1984 season as the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As they say, the rest is history. And when I say that, I’m not talking about the historical numbers that Woodley would go on to put up. He didn’t, of course. Instead of that, Woodley, who had just started in the Super Bowl for the Dolphins two years earlier (and was the youngest quarterback to ever do so at the time), would become just a footnote in Steelers history, a guy who would go on to appear in 16 games over two seasons before his career in Pittsburgh came to an abrupt and unceremonious end.
But I remember being pretty pumped up about Woodley when the Steelers traded for him. I knew this guy! I watched him play in the Super Bowl. I bought in right away.
Here we are, 38 years later, and I’m willing to do that again with Trubisky as the Steelers next starting quarterback. I’d like to see him succeed and be more than just the bridge to the next franchise guy like many are predicting. At 27, Trubisky is young enough, that’s for sure. Heck, Woodley was just 25 years old when he arrived in Pittsburgh in 1984; I obviously can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing that Woodley could have been the Steelers' next franchise quarterback had things worked out for him. Those guys aren’t easy to find, and I’m assuming Chuck Noll and Co. wouldn’t have looked a gift horse in the mouth had the next franchise QB presented himself so quickly as a 25-year old acquired in a trade from another team.
We’ll spend the next several weeks or so learning all that we can about Trubisky, but we’ll know a ton more about him once he straps on his helmet and starts to throw a football as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The second Trubisky does, he’ll begin a journey that may quickly end with him being just a footnote in franchise history—“I can’t believe the Steelers tried to replace Ben Roethlisberger with some guy named Trubisky”—or he’ll make history as the Steelers' next long-term starting quarterback.
I’m going to be rooting hard for Mitch Trubisky to pull off the latter.