We were told Ben Roethlisberger was on a stricter diet than Tom Brady, and in such good shape, we wouldn’t even recognize him.
Well, Roethlisberger showed up to Steelers training camp Wednesday. The only thing different about him were the words on his t-shirt.
This seems like an all-time spin job from Roethlisberger’s camp.
Last week, NFL reporter Ryan Burr said Roethlisberger is aggressively cutting weight. In an interview with the PM Team, he reported people close to Roethlisberger believe the quarterback will enjoy the best season of his career in 2021.
“(Source says) Ben will never mention the beating he has taken in the media, but says from a dedication standpoint has never seen anything from Ben close to this in past,” Burr tweeted July 12. “Source says obsessed with diet and workouts.”
Roethlisberger has been torn apart this offseason following a brutal end to his 2020 campaign. He’s been dissed in nearly every preseason list, as NFL executives and coaches didn’t even rank him among the league’s top 10 quarterbacks.
Failed GM Mike Tannenbaum has predicted Roethlisberger will be benched midseason, though there’s definitely some sort of grudge going on there. Perhaps Tannenbaum is still bitter over the Steelers defeating the Jets in the 2010 AFC Championship?
But still, Roethlisberger needed a positive news cycle. Last year, NFL Insider Jay Glazer lambasted his training regimen, declaring Roethlisberger’s idea of a “great offseason workout program is doing one yoga session, playing golf, and drinking some beer.”
Despite Roethlisberger’s impressive start to 2020 — 67.5 completion percentage, 25 touchdowns, 6 picks — the Glazer narrative held throughout Pittsburgh’s first 11 wins. Then when Roethlisberger stumbled over the final five weeks, it served as an easy scapegoat.
It probably didn’t help there were widespread concerns about his knee, which Roethlisberger denied.
Let’s be honest: Roethlisberger looked washed up and out of shape at the end of last season. He struggled throwing the ball downfield, ranking as one of the league’s worst in that category. Big Ben was accurate on just 23 of his 58 downfield passes, good for 39.66 percent. (Aaron Rodgers led the league with a 61.97 deep-ball completion rate.)
Roethlisberger is fighting for his reputation. At 39 years old, there is constant speculation about his impending retirement, making it seem as if it’s a feta accompli.
Roethlisberger was artfully vague when asked about his future during minicamp. “I'm going to approach this season like I approach every season, like it's my last,” he told reporters. “I've never looked toward the future. I look toward the here and now.”
The most important thing about the “here and now” for Roethlisberger is rebuilding his reputation. So his camp verbally chest-thumps in Burr’s ear, and viola, there is a new narrative.
That is, until Roethlisberger reported to training camp. Photographs mean more than anonymous sources.