Franchise History Suggests Pittsburgh Steelers Face Difficult Task In Replacing Ben Roethlisberger

Franchise History Suggests Pittsburgh Steelers Face Difficult Task In Replacing Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) waves to fans before he leaves the field … [+] after an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 26-14. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


The Pittsburgh Steelers believed they were getting a franchise quarterback when they selected Ben Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Roethlisberger, who officially announced his expected retirement Thursday, certainly lived up to the billing. That extends beyond the fact he finishes his career fifth in NFL history in passing yardage and was selected to six Pro Bowls.

First and foremost, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to three Super Bowls and won two. The Steelers also went to the playoffs 11 times in his 18 seasons and captured eight division titles. Furthermore, the Steelers never had a losing season with Roethlisberger in uniform.

Simply put, Roethlisberger was a winner. The Steelers had a 165-81-1 record in the regular season in games he started.

There is also one other statistic that sums up Roethlisberger being a franchise quarterback better than any other. No QB in NFL history had a longer career while playing for only one team.

Who will replace Roethlisberger remains to be seen as there is no clear heir apparent. Current backups Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins could wind up battling for the job in training camp.

Steelers’ history suggests finding a franchise quarterback is not easy. The only other player who fit that description since the team’s inception in 1933 was Terry Bradshaw.

The Steelers drafted Bradshaw with first overall pick in 1970 and he played 14 years before retiring after the 1983 season. Bradshaw led the Steelers to their other four Super Bowl titles, which they captured in a six-year period from 1974-79.

Between the end of Bradshaw’s career and the beginning of Roethlisberger’s, the Steelers’ starting quarterbacks were Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, Bubby Brister, Steve Bono (during the 1987 strike), Todd Blackledge, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart, Jim Miller, Kent Graham and Tommy Maddox.

O’Donnell is the only one who took the Steelers to a Super Bowl, and they lost. He and Stewart are the only two who made the Pro Bowl and were selected once each.

So, it might not be easy to fill the big void left by Big Ben.

However, Thursday marked a chance to look back at Roethlisberger’s career rather than ahead to who the Steelers’ QB1 will be in 2022 and beyond. He announced his retirement with a video on his website,

“I don’t know how to put into words what the game of football has meant to me and what a blessing it has been,” Roethlisberger said in the video. “While I know with confidence I have given my all to the game, I am overwhelmed with gratitude all it has given me. A boy from Findlay, Ohio, with NFL dreams, developed at Oxford at Miami University, blessed with the honor of 18 seasons as a Pittsburgh Steeler and a place to call home.

“The journey has been exhilarating, defined by relationships and fueled by a spirit of competition. Yet the time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats and continue to be all I can be to my wife and my children.

“I retire from football a truly grateful man.”

The 39-year-old Roethlisbeger’s last game came Jan. 17 when the Steelers lost to the Chiefs 42-21 in Kansas City in an AFC wild-card playoff game. Pittsburgh finished the season 9-8-1, reaching the postseason by beating the Baltimore Ravens on the final day of the regular season while the Jacksonville Jaguars upset the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts.

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