I’m not going to lie, when Ben Roethlisberger retired after 18 years of playing quarterback for your Pittsburgh Steelers, I assumed he would simply disappear from the public spotlight, a la Troy Polamalu (mostly) and Jack Lambert (totally).
I certainly didn’t picture Roethlisberger having a traditional career in the media. I mean, just close your eyes and imagine Big Ben dressed in a three-piece suit and sitting in a broadcast booth alongside Ian Eagle, Mike Tirico or Joe Buck. Try to wrap your head around the idea of Roethlisberger, again, dressed in a three-piece suit, sitting in a studio and talking X’s and O’s with Tony Dungy, Boomer Esiason or Terry Bradshaw.
I couldn’t even imagine Roethlisberger having a non-traditional media career, a la the Mannings and Pat McAfee.
No, I assumed Roethlisberger, the old gunslinger, would just ride off into the sunset and become a full-time family man.
When he wasn’t focusing on his family, I did picture Roethlisberger sitting in his mancave and drinking multiple beers while watching and talking football with his buddies.
But maybe that desire to remain in the spotlight was always there for Roethlisberger. Maybe he did yearn for a chance to become a part of the football media.
If we’re being real, there’s probably never any chance that Roethlisberger gets approached by one of the major networks to do anything—color commentator, studio analyst, etc. That would be because of his sketchy past that will never be forgotten by a huge segment of the football-viewing public.
Whether that’s true or not is unclear (just an educated guess), but Roethlisberger found a way to become a member of the football media after his playing career, and I can’t think of a more “Big Ben” way for him to do it.
I’m talking about his weekly “Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger” podcast, a show he co-hosts with this guy named Spence (one of his buddies). If you’ve never watched or listened to the podcast, the show is streamed right in Roethlisberger’s very-own mancave. Big Ben and Spence drink beer during the show and also sample “fancy” beer that usually gets sent to them.
The best part of Roethlisberger’s podcast, however, is when he has guests on the show, which is quite often.
My favorites so far have included James Harrison, Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher.
Roethlisberger’s most-recent episode had Kenny Pickett, Roethlisberger’s replacement as the Steelers quarterback, as a guest.
I thought it was mostly an okay episode, but it got kind of interesting toward the end when Roethlisberger admitted that he didn’t want Pickett, who the Steelers drafted just months after the two-time-Super Bowl-winning gunslinger retired, to succeed...at least not initially.
I understood Roethlisberger’s sentiments right away. I think it’s only human to feel that way about someone who is replacing you following many years of being THE MAN. I think most people have been in a position where they perhaps felt a bit jealous of the person coming along after them.
Anyway, Roethlisberger quickly turned things around by saying that it wasn’t long before he became a huge fan of Pickett and started rooting for him. If you watched the entire episode with Roethlisberger and Pickett, you may have thought nothing of that quote. Heck, if you just watched or listened to the entire statement Roethlisberger made, you may not have thought ill of the big guy.
But if you listened to or read the “parsed for public outrage” version of Roethlisberger’s admission, you might be a little miffed.
The “parsed for public outrage” version has been making the media rounds, both on the local and national stage, and I must say this about Roethlisberger’s media chops: Brilliant.
Roethlisberger’s confession to Pickett may be the juiciest thing to come out of the Footbahlin podcast so far, but just a week earlier, the local media tried to make a controversy out of Cowher saying that he left Tomlin a Super Bowl team and all he had to do was “not screw things up.”
That didn’t grow any legs, surprisingly, but it’s always news whenever Roethlisberger has a memorable guest on his show; interesting quotes and soundbites often become a part of the local and national news cycle for a day or two.
You have to give credit to Roethlisberger for turning his podcast into a relevant media commodity.
Roethlisberger hasn't done things the traditional way. He hasn't donned a three-piece suit and slicked his hair back. He doesn’t have any commercials or endorsements.
But, much like his playing career, Roethlisberger has found an unconventional way to succeed as a member of the football media.
Roethlisberger might not be the prototypical radio/podcast host, but he finds a way to win.
And he still likes it when you shed your blocker and come after him.