Ben Roethlisberger, who initiated a lot of retirement drama last offseason, seems to be upset that the Pittsburgh Steelers are worried about him retiring.
The Steelers seemed to be planning for the possibility of Roethlisberger surprising them with a retirement when they spent a third-round pick on Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. But Roethlisberger was taken aback a bit because he says he told the team after the season exactly what he said to everyone else this week, that he wants to play three-to-five more years.
Given that conversation, Roethlisberger questioned Friday why the team would draft a quarterback on the “Cook and Poni Show” on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.
“I told them right away, so it wasn’t like it was a big surprise, I wanted them to know so that they wouldn’t have to worry about drafting a quarterback,” Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan. “You talk about about guys being fair — I know Heath Miller made that when he retired — when you retire you want to make that known to the team. You want to be fair to the team and give them ample time to figure out your replacement or whatever. I wanted to make sure there was no question and they didn’t have to think about it, so I told them when the season was over I felt really good and was planning on coming for three-to-five years, exactly what I told you guys.
“So I was surprised when they took a quarterback, because I thought that maybe in the third round, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” Roethlisberger continued. “Nothing against Mason. I think he’s a great football player. I don’t know him personally, but I’m sure he’s a great kid. I just don’t know how, you know, backing up or being the third guy — who knows where he’s going to fall on the depth chart — but [how it] helps us win now. But that’s not my decision to make. That’s on the coaches and the GM and the owner and those kind of things. If they feel he can help our team, so be it, but I was a little surprised.”
Roethlisberger said when he told team officials he’d be back this season and planned to play three-to-five more years, they seemed thankful and excited.
“I think they believed me,” Roethlisberger said with a laugh. “Once they drafted a quarterback in the third, I’m not sure if they believed me or not, but I’m committed to it.”
It’s a very tough spot for the Steelers to be in. Roethlisberger acknowledged last year he seriously considered retirement. Here’s what he said last May about his playing future:
“I never commit to anyone more than one year,” Roethlisberger said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s how we always commit to this sport. If we look past this year we’re cheating ourselves and we’re cheating other people. We have to give this year everything we have because ultimately what we have is right here and right now.”
If you’re the Steelers, how do you reconcile that with Roethlisberger’s claim that he’ll play three-to-five more years?
Clearly the Steelers were alarmed enough by Roethlisberger’s “never commit to anyone more than one year” last May to prepare for the future. If Roethlisberger is shocked that the Steelers would invest a valuable draft pick in a quarterback, it seems he’d have himself to blame. There’s no question the Steelers could have gotten a very good non-quarterback at No. 76 instead of Rudolph, because teams should be still trying to land starters at that point in the draft. But it’s hard to blame the Steelers. Roethlisberger’s retirement talk last offseason clearly spooked the franchise a bit, because they weren’t prepared for a sudden exit from their quarterback. Roethlisberger is also 36 years old and has dealt with serious injuries, so his three-to-five year plan could change without much warning.
The Steelers tried to help themselves for the post-Roethlisberger era with the Rudolph pick. The problem to Roethlisberger, it seems, is that pick doesn’t help Roethlisberger.
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