Ben Roethlisberger is retired and has some thoughts on the game he just left.
Roethlisberger recently spoke with Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an extensive, reflective interview in which Roethlisberger was asked about some of the regrets that took him into retirement. One essential game was easy to understand: After winning two Super Bowls in the 2000s and reaching Super Bowl XLV, Roethlisberger’s Steelers won only three playoffs before calling it a career.
He believes that some cultural changes with the passing of generations have had an effect.
“I feel like the game has changed,” Roethlisberger told Tok. “I feel like people have changed a little bit. Maybe it’s because I screwed up when I got in. The team was so important. It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, this and the other.
“I might be standing on the soapbox a bit, but that’s the biggest I’ve been able to do since I started all the way to the end. I went from a first-team position to one that looked like me. It was tough.
“It’s hard for these guys too. Social media. They treat really well in college. Now, these new things are unbelievable, which is unbelievable. They are treated very special. They are pampered at such a young age because of college the coaches need them to win too.” I know coach (Terry) Hubner never flirted with me (in Miami), nor did (former Steelers coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame) queer.”
It is not difficult to deduce what Roethlisberger was referring to. The Steelers were among the most explosive offenses in the NFL just five years ago, bragging about NFL-leading receiver Antonio Brown and elite running backs at Le’Veon Bell. The two teamed up with Roethlisberger to form what were known as the Killer B’s, a trio that seemed destined to tear apart the rest of the NFL.
This group never reached their full potential, of course, with Brown’s woes on and off the field creating an internal divide, and Bale’s contract dispute prompting him to withdraw throughout 2018, a decision Bale now regrets. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger was forced to put up with distractions while trying to keep the Steelers in the NFL pool of major contenders.
In the end, the dust settled in Pittsburgh after Brown and Bell left for greener pastures elsewhere in Las Vegas and New York, respectively—two places neither of which would ever regain elite form. Roethlisberger stayed in Steel City with a new batch of shareholders who kept the Steelers competitive, but not seriously enough to get another chance at the Lombardi Cup.
In the end, Roethlisberger’s time ran out. He carried a massive salary figure into the 2021 season, forcing him and the Steelers to renegotiate his deal for one last season together and become a mandatory farewell tour for more than just the quarterback.
“It was mostly (former Steelers general manager) Kevin (Colbert),” Roethlisberger said when explaining the strained relationship with the Steelers organization. “He was ready to move on. I think Mike (Tomlin) was a little ready to move on, but I think he was OK with me coming back. I think Mr. (Art) Rooney really wanted me to come back last year to play.”