Pittsburgh Steelers’ Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told a radio audience yesterday on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that he believes he can play another 5-7 more years. Based on the person he idolized growing up, there’s no reason he can’t follow that lead.
Roethlisberger wears number seven to honor Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway. Roethlisberger’s game is very similar to Elway’s in terms of his ability to create plays on the move and keep plays alive.
At the age of 32 and with many injuries in his past, questions abound about his ability to stay healthy for the next several seasons.
All Big Ben did in 2013 was go out and take every single snap on offense and ended having one of his best years statistically.
If Roethlisberger truly wants to play as long as he claims then it isn’t impossible by any stretch and he need to look no further than his boyhood idol Elway. For those of you old enough to remember, Elway led a Denver Broncos’ team to three Super Bowls in the 1980’s behind a very good passing attack but his teams were blown out in all three of those games.
As Elway got older and more banged up, Head Coach Mike Shanahan built a more complete offense around Elway. He strengthened the offensive line and became more reliant on the running game behind Terrel Davis who rushed for over 3,700 yards in 1997 and 1998 combined.
Those two seasons culminated in Super Bowl victories for Elway and were the 15th and 16th years of his career. We can debate how banged up Elway was in those final years compared to the beating Roethlisberger’s body has seen for days on end. What’s more interesting is how the Steelers seem to be following Shanahan’s blueprint a bit in terms of planning for Roethlisberger’s final years.
They continue to rebuild the offensive line and will do so even more in the draft this weekend. They’ve also added Le’Veon Bell and LeGaratte Blount to shoulder the load in the running game.
Personally I believe Roethlisberger has a shot to be even better than Elway in his later years and you can look at the completion percentage for proof. Elway completed just 55.8% of his passes in ’97 and 59% of his passes in ’98 which was his final year.
Roethlisberger’s career completion percentage is about 6 percentage points higher than Elway’s so Big Ben has more to build on. Obviously there are other factors such as the defense and overall health but I believe Roethlisberger can play for the next 5-7 years.
I just hope it’s with the Steelers.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.