We have lived in a work environment for generations where attrition is the final blow that every man or woman has to face in regards to the process of aging and being forced to retire because of it. How many “gold watches,” so-called pseudo-tokens of appreciation have been given out to signify and honor a long and respectable tenure in the workplace? The world of sports should not be any different. For example, take the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ future NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. What are his retirement plans for the future? Are his plans of “riding off into the sunset” aligned or in concert with the future plans that the team has for him?
Ben Roethlisberger is 39 years old. That is “Sherman Tank old” in regards to the lifespan of an NFL player, especially a player that, by many accounts, may not be as sharp at maintaining the physical and intellectual tools and weapons required to compete against many of the NFL defenses that he may face on a weekly basis.
As far as the real “art of warfare” is concerned, imagine America taking a slow and cumbersome turtle-like Sherman tank used during WWII onto the battlefields of the new millennium against Russia and her technologically advanced drone and “satellite in the sky” type weaponry. Well, put it this way, it wouldn’t be pretty. It would be like, “shooting fish in a barrel.” Oftentimes during the recent past, putting Ben Roethlisberger on the field to face defensive linemen with 4.6 forty-yard dash times and linebackers running forties in 4.4 was almost relative to “Big” Ben: “being one of the goldfish being fattened up for sale in the family aquarium.” Because of this one important factor, Roethlisberger, unlike many of his counterparts, may not have fully grasped the concept that in the new millennium, there is no “offseason” in professional football. Many of today’s quarterbacks have changed their workout regimen to include personal trainers and have hired additional staff to include nutritionists, personal chefs and even private physicians that may be necessary to assist them in competing not only against their opponents on the field, but also against the “un-holistic” challenges and the negative physical toll that the game of football takes on the human body, mind and spirit.
There are many NFL QBs that also study and work out with their teammates, whenever possible and when it is permitted by the NFL, throughout the year.
Arguably, Ben Roethlisberger’s counterpart, Tom Brady, at 43 years of age, seems to be more comfortable and in sync both physically and mentally with the evolution of the game and culture of professional football into to a faster, more complex competition. Roethlisberger seems to be more comfortable reading the plays dictated from his wristband; Brady seems to be only truly comfortable with calling plays from his wristband that from a playbook that he has scripted himself. In the world of cinema, actors with starring roles in a film know their lines and generally, except for certain parts of the script that calls for interaction between them, may pay little or no attention to the lines of the supporting cast.
However, the director of the film must be familiar with all of the lines. Ben Roethlisberger seems to reflect the role of the leading man whereas Tom Brady seems to be more relative to the role of film director. Tom Brady seems to be great at whatever he does; even when he was in the midst of cheating he seems to have even turned that activity of dark competition and skullduggery to an “art form.”
Now there is a new nexus regarding the 2021 success of the Steelers being connected to the future blood, sweat and tears of the Steelers 2021’ first-round draft pick Najee Harris, the running back from Alabama. On May 25, 2021 Steelers Depot reported that Harris signed an estimated four-year rookie deal worth around $13 million and for that tidy sum, Harris is expected to rekindle the less-than-fiery performance of the running attack that the Black and Gold exhibited during the 2020 season. A rejuvenated running attack would put less pressure on the Steelers’ offensive philosophy generally, and Ben Roethlisberger specifically. Now hear this; it is estimated that Roethlisberger took a “pay cut” from approximately $19 million a year “down to” $14 million annually. Oh, many pundits are continuing to crow that the young Mr. Harris has yet to prove himself. That may be true, but there are many aspects about the continuation and validation of Ben Roethlisberger’s career that must be proven as well.
Sooooo……if a rookie has to prove himself, shouldn’t a veteran player with multiple injuries and questionable ability be forced to step onto the proving ground as well?
Where do we always hear that Americans have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and carry their own weight? What player is more likely to be the albatross around the neck of the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers that may drag the team down to the lower competitive depths of the NFL?
Will it be the aging, veteran and well-paid Ben Roethlisberger with questionable ability? Or Najee Harris, the promising talented rookie running back from the land of the Crimson Tide?