NFL
September 1, 2021

Why Ben Roethlisberger Will Follow in Tom Brady's Footsteps in 2021

The clock is ticking on Big Ben's Hall of Fame career. 

As Ben Roethlisberger enters his 18th season, it once again brings forth questions concerning his NFL future. 

Roethlisberger has embraced the approach of taking it one season at a time as retirement remains a looming question. However, the 39-year-old has taken a renewed approach this offseason with his commitment to his craft. 

"I mean, listen, as you get older — for the last four or five years, I’ve really focused on having a trainer, my body,” Roethlisberger told the Washington Post in early August. "Part of it’s football. But part of it’s life. I’m not getting any younger. I’m almost 40 years old. So you’ve got to take care of yourself. And nothing against Tom [Brady], but I’m not eating avocado ice cream."

The six-time Pro Bowler embraced a strict diet to lose weight to better prepare his body for the physical rigors of the season ahead. Beyond that, the Steelers are primed to put last year's late-season shortcomings behind them by making a playoff run. 

Much of which may mirror what Tom Brady accomplished in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pittsburgh possesses a strong assortment of talent around him to be one of the top teams in the 2021 season.

Roethlisberger will throw to one of the league’s top young receiving cores with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Johnson is coming off a breakout campaign where he posted career highs with 88 receptions for 923 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. 

Claypool demonstrated big-play ability in his rookie season with 62 catches for 873 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster bounced back with 97 receptions for 831 receiving yards and nine touchdowns despite working largely out of the slot. 

The Steelers are hoping that promising rookie Najee Harris can step in to become the team’s workhorse back. Harris’ dual-threat ability as a runner and receiver out of the backfield could see him quickly become one of the league’s most productive running backs. 

Like Brady’s situation in Tampa Bay, his team possesses one of the league’s premier defenses that have anchored their success the last couple of seasons. In 2020, Pittsburgh finished third in total defense, against the pass (194.4 per game), and points allowed (19.5). 

Yes, Roethlisberger is another year older, but his increased commitment to health combined with the talent on both sides of the ball the Steelers possess, sets the table for a promising 2021 season ahead.

Photo: Getty Images