Joe Starkey: Do fans want Ben Roethlisberger back?

Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Football

“Ben assured me he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship.” — Art Rooney II



Anyway, seven thoughts on No. 7, now that it’s apparent Ben Roethlisberger will be back for his 18th season as Steelers quarterback ...

1. This does not appear to be a popular move. I base that on anecdotal evidence — common conversation, social media, talk-show callers, etc. One small example: Nearly 1,200 people responded to a 45-minute Twitter poll I posted the other day — “Do you want Ben to retire?” — and 60 percent said yes.

Maybe it’s because the Cleveland debacle is fresh in fans’ minds. Maybe it’s because they’re in love with Mason Rudolph.


Wait, no. It couldn’t be that.

Maybe it’s because they want the Steelers to make a “fresh start” and don’t believe the team can win big with Roethlisberger. Maybe people think he’s shot.

Whatever the case, it’s a bit surreal to see what was essentially the announced return of a franchise icon greeted with the same enthusiasm you’d expect for news that Matt Feiler is coming back to play swing tackle. And I’m not saying the critics are wrong.

2. Actually, 60 percent of me believes they are wrong and believes Ben can still play at a high level. Most would have agreed 10 games into the season, when he had 27 touchdowns, five interceptions, a 10-0 record and mounting MVP support.


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