BIG BEN IS BACK
By Donny Chedrick
“Now you’re all in big, big trouble.” – Billy Madison (1995)
The AFC North has three Heisman Trophy winners, but here in Pittsburgh we aren’t all too worried about that because our quarterback has the only hardware that really matters – two of them.
Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger will return for the 2020 season 38-years-young and now the longest-tenured QB in the National Football League following the retirement of Eli Manning, Tom Brady’s departure from New England and Philip Rivers getting dumped by the Chargers. Fresh off right elbow surgery, Ben will return to an offense that desperately needed him in 2019. But as Ben stood on the sidelines in 2019 watching struggling quarterback play, the jokes came in from all around. The fat comments, the out-of-shape comments and the beard comments. Everyone had their fun with Ben on the bench. But they don’t get that luxury this year.
In the spring, the beard was shaved. Ben was cleared. The keys were back in the ignition. Several social media posts have Big Ben looking like he is in the best shape of his career – something nobody, especially outside of Pittsburgh, thought would happen at nearly 40. The six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion appears to be ripe for the picking in 2020 as a potential Comeback Player of the Year. If the Steelers return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017, I like his chances.
Contrary to the modern model of football, Big Ben has seen some of his best work after his 30th birthday, eclipsing 4,000 yards four different times. Those times include 2014 and 2018 when he led the league with 4,952 yards and 5,129 yards, respectively. He also threw for 3,938 yards in 2015, in which he played in just 12 games. In 2016 he tossed for 3,819 yards in just 14 games. In 2018, along with leading the league in yards, he had a personal-best 34 touchdown passes. The concern came with 16 interceptions, which led the league that year. But, it is not Ben’s career-high in INT’s. Ben is currently 8th all-time in passing yards, 9th all-time in passing touchdowns and 12th all-time in passer rating to go along with his Hall of Fame résumé.
This season means more than just numbers for Ben Roethlisberger. This is for redemption. This is his revenge tour (S/O Joey Mulinaro). After the ending of 2018 was littered with nothing but slander in his direction, he’s back to prove the haters wrong in more ways than one.
There isn’t much time left, boys. Time to get 7 for 7. #COMON