(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
After 18 seasons with the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger indicated on Thursday morning that Monday night's game against the Browns will be his last at Heinz Field. While there were some signs, this is the first time that Roethlisberger has actually hinted at retirement this season.
"I don't ever speak in definites or guarantees," Roethlisberger said. "That's just not what I've ever done or who I am. But, looking at the bigger picture, I would say that all signs are pointing to this could be it. Regular season that is. I know we still have a chance to potentially get a playoff game there if things fall our way and we take care of business and things have to happen. But in the grand scheme of things, in terms of regular season, signs are pointing that way this could be it."
According to ESPN Stats & Info, with a win on Monday night, Roethlisberger would tie Brett Favre for the third-most wins at a single venue including postseason (98). Only Tom Brady (135) and John Elway (104) have more than them. Even with the apparent retirement on the horizon, Roethlisberger says he's locked in and focused on beating the Browns to keep the Steelers' playoff hopes alive.
"I'll address the definite answer at some point down the road, but like I said, my focus is winning this game," Roethlisberger said. "If it is indeed my last regular season game there, it's going to be one of the most important games of my career. I've been so blessed to play in front of the best fans in all of sports, the best venue. What better way to have a last regular season potential game than on Monday Night Football against a division opponent. It's just special. I got a lot of focus on still for this year and this game and that's got to be it right now."
Amazingly, Roethlisberger has been the Steelers quarterback for nearly two decades. His 247 career regular-season games is the most in franchise history.
"It's 18 years, it's almost half my life I've given to this city, this team and the fans," Roethlisberger said. "The funny thing I know that I still have it in the tank to go out there this week and next week and give it everything I have to do everything I can to get us in into the postseason. That's always the ultimate goal, to win a Lombardi, and that's still the goal. We're not out of this thing yet."
With the season and Roethlisberger's career quickly coming to a close. Roethlisberger admits that the emotions have been high.
"The emotions will start to kick in," Roethlisberger said. "They already have when you think about it. But I think I'm able to put those emotions on the back burner because of the focus we have to win this game. This is a team that's hungry. I mean, it's the Browns, the division opponent, so they're hungry to come in and get a win, too.
"I can't sit here all week and just be nostalgic and think about everything that my career has been when I've got to focus on this game, because that's the most important. This is the most important game of the season for us right now."