At the beginning of October, I wrote a column indicating that Father Time was calling, and it was telling Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that his career was nearing its end.
It seems now that I was more correct than I had originally thought.
Recent reports have said that Roethlisberger has told confidants inside and outside of the organization that 2021 will be his last year with the Steelers.
It’s important to note that the reports have not been using the word “retired,” which still leaves open the possibility that Roethlisberger will seek to play one more season somewhere else.
But how it relates to Roethlisberger’s situation with the Steelers, the rumors give added meaning to the 2021 season.
For most of the year, the Steelers have languished, showing signs of football brilliance with thrilling wins over Seattle and Denver, while at other times getting annihilated and looking foolish in the process against teams such as the Chargers and the Bengals.
However, fans will remember that the 2005 Steelers faced a similar situation.
That was the year Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, the franchise running back, returned for one, final season after a disappointing end to the season before.
The Steelers looked dazed and lost most of that season, at one point sitting at 7-5 and facing a year of no postseason play.
However, inspired by Bettis’ play and leadership, the Steelers rattled off four straight victories to end the season, had an improbable march through the playoffs, and then capped the storybook season with a win in Super Bowl XL.
Could a similar ending be in store for Big Ben?This team is certainly capable of it. Young, dynamic pieces on offense such as Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth give Ben weapons he needs to put points on the board.
On the other side of the ball, guys like T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and others have anchored a strong defensive front with a secondary that has occasionally shown flashes of brilliance.
The Steelers, despite having the toughest schedule remaining in the league, do have some windows they can win in particularly against division rivals Baltimore and Cleveland, teams they have already faced and conquered this season.
Will we have a repeat of 2005? It is too soon to say.
Yet, what we do know is that the Big Ben departure rumors have given a whole new meaning to this contradictory, confusing and crazy 2021 Steelers season.