Less than two weeks into the 2019 NFL season, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered the most devastating injury of his career. Just before halftime of a game against the Seahawks, Big Ben tore three tendons “off the bone” while trying to throw a pass. 

Not only did the injury end Roethlisberger’s season, but there was also some speculation that it might end his career. The idea that Big Ben’s career might be over after 16 seasons basically boiled down to two things: First, he suffered a devastating injury that no quarterback has ever had to recover from, and two, the Steelers quarterback is 38 years old, which is an age when nearly every NFL player not named Tom Brady sees their productivity come to a screeching halt. 

Roethlisberger’s wife, Ashley, knew it is was going to be tough for her husband to return to football, so one of the first things she did after the injury was to let him know that it was OK if he wanted to retire. 

“I told him that I was only going to say this one time,” Ashley said, via ESPN.com. “I wanted him to hear me and mark my words, not going to bring it up again, but if he felt content where he was with the career that he’s had and it’s on his heart to just be done, I would support him 100% in that. He doesn’t have to worry about my feelings in all that. I want what he wants. I was basically just handing him permission to retire if that’s where his heart was and I was going to support him in that.”

Ashley revealed the details of the conversation during episode one of a YouTube docu-series the Roethlisbergers are doing together. 

After hearing what his wife had to say, Big Ben made it clear that he had no plans to retire, despite the fact that he didn’t yet know how difficult it was going to be to recover from the injury. 

“He listened, and you could tell he really took it to heart and thought,” Ashley said. “And he said, ‘Thank you, but I don’t feel done. I’m not done.'”

The reason Big Ben came back is that he wants to win a few more Super Bowls, which is something he explained in early August. 

“I think any athlete, any competitor, will tell you they want to go out on their own terms,” Roethlisberger said. “And it doesn’t happen all the time. We don’t always get that lucky … I think if I had felt that I was closer to the end, it might have been a decision for me to think longer about coming back or not. But I didn’t feel that I was close to that. I’m not saying that I have 10 years left in me, but I definitely feel that I have some really good years left in me. That was definitely a motivating factor; coming back and showing that I still have it in the tank. I still have a lot to give this team. I still have a lot to give the fans. And I still want to win Lombardis, and I say that with a plural on the end.”

Roethlisberger has continuously said during training camp that he feels really good, but the fact of the matter is that he still hasn’t taken any hits. Since there were no preseason games this year, that means Big Ben won’t take his first hit until he gets on the field in Week 1 against the Giants. The Steelers opener is being played on Monday night, which means there will be a lot of curious eyes watching when Roethlisberger suits up to play his first game in nearly a year. 

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