Ben Roethlisberger gives clear hint on his retirement decision


The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game, which could be Pittsburgh’s final game at Heinz Field this season.

That also means it could be Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field this season — and perhaps the final home game of his career.

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There’s been plenty of speculation that the 35-year-old Roethlisberger will retire after this season, but Wednesday the Steelers quarterback didn’t sound like someone ready to walk away from the game.

“I don’t think it is my last, but I’m not thinking about that right now,” he said. “I’m going to go out and play this one and give everything I have.”

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Of course, talk of Roethlisberger retiring has surfaced quite a bit in the last year — primarily because the quarterback was the one bringing it up.

After last season’s loss to New England in the AFC championship game, Roethlisberger left open the possibility he would not return for 2017.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” he said two days after the loss to the Patriots. “To consider health and family and things like that, and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season — if there’s going to be a next season — all those things,” he added.

Roethlisberger eventually decided to return for a 14th season, but he began training camp by again suggesting he had been thinking of retirement.

“I’ve been blessed to do this a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time.

“I feel good mentally, I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players’ brains who were studied had CTE. There’s a lot of scary things, and I think my wife would be OK if I hung it up, too. But I still love the guys, I still love the game, so it was right for me to come back and give it everything I have this year.”

After throwing five interceptions in a 30-9 loss to Jacksonville in Week 5, Roethlisberger somberly declared, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.”

Of course, Roethlisberger proved he still had “it” by leading Pittsburgh to nine wins in its final 10 games to finish 13-3. Now he’s preparing for a rematch with the Jaguars in what Steelers fans hope is the first step on a return journey to the Super Bowl.

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Teammate Maurkice Pouncey said he does not expect this to be Roethlisberger’s last year.

“He came out and had a great year and made a Pro Bowl,” Pouncey said. “He’d he crazy to walk away.”

But Roethlisberger said the spinal cord injury to teammate Ryan Shazier is a stark reminder to any player they are one play away from the end of their career.

“You have to treat every game like it could be your last because you never know when it is,” Roethlisberger said. “We saw an example obviously earlier this season with [injured linebacker] Ryan [Shazier]. You never know when it could be your last. I’m hoping it’s not his last, but you have to go out and play every play and enjoy every play and every game like it could be your last.”

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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