Ben Roethlisberger decided to ride off into the sunset last season, making 2021 the final year of a long NFL career that resulted in two Super Bowl wins and six Pro Bowls, among many other honors.
In a rare move, the quarterback retired from the same team that drafted him No. 11 overall in 2004: the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook, Roethlisberger said he was under pressure to retire from then Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert the year before last.
Furthermore, he said head coach Mike Tomlin was "a little ready" to move on as well, but "he was OK" with Big Ben coming back. He added that it was only owner Art Rooney who decided to let the tenured quarterback return for another season.
"It was mostly Kevin. He was ready to move on. I think Mike was a little ready to move on, but I think he was OK with me coming back. I think Mr. Rooney really wanted me to come back last year to play."
Roethlisberger said that he thought he went out on his terms and that he did not want to stay for too long:
"I thought I went out on my terms. I never wanted to stay too long. I know some people might think I did. ‘You stayed last year.’ But I thought I played pretty well last year, to be honest. My arm feels like I still could go out and play. I’m pretty confident I could still play. But it’s every day. It’s mental. Not having to prepare for camp and the season has been the biggest blessing for me. I’m fine with where I’m at with everything."
With Ben Roethlisberger retired, the Steelers will rely on veteran QB Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett in 2022
Roethlisberger also believes he could have continued playing and that if he were to suit up today, he could pick up right where he left off. Still, the quarterback seems happy in retirement, away from the grind of training camp. But there's no doubt he misses the camaraderie of being part of a team.
The Steelers will move into the 2022-23 season with questions at the quarterback position for the first time in a long time.
Former Chicago Bears starter Mitch Trubisky seems to be the most likely to win the starting job, while rookie Kenny Pickett shows a lot of promise and could end up in the starting lineup before the year is up.