Ben Roethlisberger's time as starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers has finally ended. In a move that seemed inevitable, the 39-year-old veteran announced his retirement on Thursday, saying, "the time has come for me to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats" after 18 legendary seasons with the iconic franchise.
Roethlisberger, who was the third quarterback selected during the 2004 draft, never endured a losing season. Under his stewardship, the Steelers captured eight AFC North division crowns, reached five AFC championship games, and celebrated two Super Bowls. In 2006, he became the youngest quarterback to win a Lombardi Trophy, at age 23. That season, his partner in the backfield was Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, who retired as a champion.
"It's the end of an incredible era -- the Ben Roethlisberger era. Whenever he stepped on the field, you knew the Steelers had a chance to win that football game," Bettis told The DA Show on Friday morning. "And a great likelihood that they were going to win the game. That's something that can't be understated, when a guy is a winner.
"From the first day he stepped on the field, you knew he had that 'it.' And to see his career, how it developed and matured -- and how he developed and matured as a man -- it was fun to watch. It's a sad day in Pittsburgh, because whenever a legend walks away, you lose an awful lot in the locker room. So, they've got a big void to fill, because Ben is no longer there."
Roethlisberger is leaving the league with a Hall of Fame resume. In 249 career regular season games, he won 165 times, and among the NFL's all-time ranks, he's currently eighth in touchdowns (418) and fifth in passing yards (64,085), completions (5,440), and attempts (8,443). Roethlisberger is also Pittsburgh's leader in several categories, including quarterback wins, touchdown passes, game-winning drives, and fourth-quarter comebacks.
His successful career wasn't controversy-free, however. Back in 2009, a civil lawsuit was filed against Roethlisberger for sexual assault, and the matter was concluded with a settlement. In 2010, he was investigated for sexual assault, though the district attorney didn't press charges. That same season, the NFL issued Roethlisberger a four-game suspension (reduced from six), as a result of him violating the league's personal-conduct policy.
The entire NFL conversation between Bettis and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.