Ever since the offseason, when Ben Roethlisberger agreed to a pay cut to stay with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it seemed clear that 2021 was going to be Roethlisberger's last season with the team.
Roethlisberger hadn't really acknowledged it. Until Thursday.
While saying he doesn't offer "definites or guarantees," Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh media he realizes that Monday night against the Cleveland Browns could be his final home game in Pittsburgh.
"All the signs are pointing to this could be it," Roethlisberger said.
Ben Roethlisberger won’t speak in definites, but he says “all signs” are pointing that “this could be it” his last game — at least regular season — at Heinz Field. pic.twitter.com/9jlhR99Kty
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 30, 2021
The Steelers finish the regular season in Week 18 at Baltimore.
What happens after the season will be a big story for a future Hall of Fame quarterback. But Roethlisberger's words turn Monday's game into a bit of a special farewell.
Ben Roethlisberger likely has one more home game left
When Roethlisberger arrived in 2004, it began a long, successful era for the Steelers. Roethlisberger helped the team win two Super Bowls and make another. He made six Pro Bowls.
Spending 18 years with one team is a remarkable accomplishment. Very few players get to experience that. Not that Steelers fans didn't understand the situation before Roethlisberger met the media on Thursday, but now it feels a little more real. Monday becomes not just a big game — the Steelers are still alive for the playoffs and the AFC North title, the latter of which would give the Steelers and Roethlisberger another home game at Heinz Field — but a celebration of almost two decades.
Roethlisberger will turn 40 next March, and he hasn't looked like the same quarterback since elbow surgery in 2019. Nobody knows if Roethlisberger would entertain playing with another team, or if there would be a lot of interest.
All that is certain is Roethlisberger has the rest of this season with the Steelers, and one more home game. It'll be a little more special than a normal Monday night game in Pittsburgh.