Summer 2024

Expected to retire from NFL, Ben Roethlisberger says he wants to help 'expand God's Kingdom'

The final chapter of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s long and storied NFL career was likely written Sunday night when Pittsburgh fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round.

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Though Roethlisberger never explicitly announced he will retire, his postgame press conference implied he was not coming back for another season.

“It’s tough,” he said after the 42-21 loss. “But I’m proud to play with these guys. God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players. It’s just been truly a blessing and I’m so thankful to Him for the opportunity that He’s given me.”

When asked what was next for him, Roethlisberger did not hesitate with his answer.

“I’m going to do everything I can to be the best husband and father I can be, and try and expand God’s Kingdom,” he said.

The Steelers’ offense struggled to get going in the first half, as Pittsburgh’s first touchdown was a fumble return by linebacker T.J. Watt. But Roethlisberger found some rhythm in the second half, connecting with Diontae Johnson and James Washington on a pair of touchdowns.

Big Ben finished the game 29-of-44 for 215 yards, passing Brett Favre for third place on the all-time postseason passing yards list with 5,972.

If Roethlisberger does retire, his last game at Heinz Field was a 26-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns. He thanked God for allowing him to make one final memory in Pittsburgh following the win.

“I’m just so thankful for the fans, my family obviously. The good Lord has blessed me in so many ways,” he told ESPN on the field right after the game.

Pittsburgh’s franchise leader in every major statistical category related to quarterbacks, Roethlisberger was drafted 11th overall in 2004 and went 13-0 as a starter during the regular season as a rookie.

The Steelers have made the playoffs 12 times with Roethlisberger under center, winning the Super Bowl in 2005 and 2008, and reaching it again in 2010. He led the NFL in passing yards twice (2014, 2018) and is a six-time Pro Bowler.

The Lima, Ohio, native also contemplated retiring after last season before choosing to return for an 18th season. He stressed the important role prayer would play in his decision when asked about his future after losing to the Browns in the playoffs.

“It’s going to start between me and God, a lot of praying,” Roethlisberger said at the time. “And then a lot of it is talking with my family — discussions, decisions … There will be a lot of discussions, but now is not the time for that.”

Roethlisberger has become much more vocal about his faith the last few years, something Steelers team chaplain Kent Chevalier attributes at least in part to the season-ending elbow injury Roethlisberger suffered in Week 2 of the 2019 season. That is the only time in his career Roethlisberger failed to appear in at least 12 games.

The QB evolved into one of the team’s spiritual leaders, sharing his testimony with teammates and other members of the Steelers organization at the end of the 2019 regular season. He talked about growing up in a Christian home and not pursuing his faith while in college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

The 39-year-old also spoke at the annual ManUp Conference in 2020, which is usually held in Pittsburgh but was virtual due to the pandemic.

“Three years ago I got baptized,” Roethlisberger said during the conference. “I was baptized as a kid; my parents took me as a baby. But I didn’t make that decision. So three years ago now I made the decision to be baptized because I felt like I needed to do that. I wanted to have a closer walk, a better relationship with Jesus, with my wife, with my kids, with my family — become a better person.

“So I think the person that brought me to Him was Jesus. Jesus is the One who brought me back to Him, and I’m so thankful for it because I feel I’m a better Christian, a better husband and a better father today because of His forgiveness of me.”

If his playing career is over, Roethlisberger ends it fifth in NFL history in completions (5,440) and passing yards (64,088), and eighth in passing touchdowns (418).

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