Diagonals guru: Ben Roethlisberger says goodbye to Pittsburgh

MIAMI – Romanticism and happy endings are still alive in sports. The NFL, like the rest of the leagues, is first a business and then an entertainment later and for that reason, among other things, it has been increasingly difficult to see a quarterback start and end his career with the same team .

It has happened to Joe Montana, to Peyton Manning, to Tom Brady, to Brett Favre and believe me that list is going to get bigger with each passing year.

However, Ben Roethlisberger had his “swan song” in Pittsburgh and just as he always had a different style of play, he also had a different ending and decided to go against the norm that we live today.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to say we’re in this situation because of a mismanagement by the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise. Roethlsiberger has not been the same for about two or three years and the lack of a succession plan has meant that Pittsburgh has no alternatives at the position and wasted a couple of years of good defense in which, perhaps, they could have been candidates.

But like Yin and Yang, everything bad has something good and everything good has something bad. That meant we had a magical night last Monday in Pittsburgh.

Personally, it was a blessing to be there on the sidelines considering that my first Super Bowl at the court level was precisely in 2009 in Tampa Bay, when Big Ben connected with Santonio Holmes for the Steelers to be crowned champions after defeating the Arizona Cardinals in a true game that had it all.

Being able to be there on the night he said goodbye to Pittsburgh was like closing a circle on a wonderful career that I was fortunate to witness.

Criticisms of the present and in recent years do not detract from the greatness of the Roethlisberger of the past. Many do not take into account that we are talking about one of the maximum references of one of the most awarded franchises in history. No one played more seasons (18) in Pittsburgh than Big Ben, who, in addition to being named Rookie of the Year, has won 164 regular season games, 13 Playoffs and 2 Super Bowls.

Roethlisberger’s accomplishments go far beyond her numbers. He grew up in Ohio and from the small University of Miami in his home state, where he wore the number 7 in honor of John Elway, he came to the NFL to make his own mark.

There’s no question that when he came to the league, the Steelers had an elite defense, which was vital even to the first Super Bowl in Big Ben’s career, who didn’t have a great game that day.

However, his style was unmistakable and over the years, he began to leave a trademark and increasingly play a role more vital to the success that the Steelers would enjoy in the years to come. I always called Big Ben “The King of Broken Plays” since he was impossible to take down and when plays were stretched, that was when he was most lethal.

Roethlisberger played this sport with a refreshing impudence that made us think that he was in his backyard with friends. What many forget is the way he consistently grew up at important times. I vividly remember that many years ago I was asked who the most “clutch” quarterback in the league was and I answered Big Ben without a second thought.

Of course, over the years, this trend would be reversed in favor of Tom Brady, among other things, due to the different care that each of them gave to his body. To Roethlisberger, the body said “enough” a few years ago, while Brady maintains its incredible validity.

Perhaps because of living with giants like Brady or Manning, some choose not to remember the greatness of Big Ben as a player in all its glory, but we are talking about a player who will be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and who deserved a farewell. like Monday.

Roethlisberger is old-fashioned and has never been a man of many words. So much so, that not even his teammates had been informed of his final decision to retire after this season.

“He doesn’t talk much, we only found out from the press that this was possibly the end,” TJ Watt himself told me after the game against the Cleveland Browns.

This is Big Ben, although the stage at Heinz Field ended up emotionally bankrupt on Monday. The stadium, littered with posters of admiration, people chanting “Thanks, Ben!” From start to finish, the words of his former teammates and the unusual energy in Pittsburgh were too much for even Roethlisberger.

“I would like to put all this night in a box and keep it forever,” concluded No. 7.

Tears fell on his face and the hugs from his companions came en masse. Big Ben had the opportunity to guide the Steelers to a win and keep their playoff chances alive, because even though he is a shadow of the player he once was, Pittburgh has gone 17 consecutive seasons without a losing record with him as their quarterback.

Cameron Heyward promised in the run-up to the Cleveland game that “he would make sure his teammates came out with the right intensity to give Ben the send-off he deserves.”

The defense responded with nine sacks and at the end of the day, it was Big Ben who knelt in a winning formation to experience that glorious moment that today is so elusive for most quarterbacks in the league.

Big Ben started and will end his career with the Steelers. One of the best quarterbacks of this generation and probably in history.

That’s how influential Big Ben was for Pittsburgh.

Romanticism and ideals still live in the world of sports and it was an honor to be able to be there for such a magical and different night, one of those that are not too many and are only reserved for the really great.


* Home teams are second


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Diagonals guru: Ben Roethlisberger says goodbye to Pittsburgh