Alright, with all the bleak news about Trump encouraging a major COVID-19 outbreak, let’s switch topics to something near and dear to my heart — Steelers football!
Today, I want to talk about this:
I give him four games ’til he’s busted up again. His knee, his elbow, his scapula — SOME damn thing. This past season, it was his elbow and it required surgery, so he missed the whole season. But EVERY season, he gets injured. We call him Breakable Ben. And I love Ben Roethlisberger, I do. The entire city of Pittsburgh loves him and owes him a debt of gratitude for the abuse he has suffered at the hands of our city’s enemies lo these many years. He is easily one of the best, if not THE best, quarterbacks we’ve ever had, perhaps to ever play the game. They should carry him into the Hall of Fame in a solid gold litter.
But come on. With his injury record, I think it is safe to say his glory days are behind him. It happens to all of us mortals. He has an amazing record and will live on in bar room and rec room discussions for ages, inspiring well-deserved praise and a sense of deepest nostalgia, but let’s be realistic. We love Ben, and we hate to see the people we love do this to themselves. No one ever said, “After his hip operation, my grandfather was better than ever! He was jitterbugging like he’d just gotten back from the war, chasin’ the neighborhood kids… feisty old bastard!” No. One slip on the ice, Gramps was out of hips, and that was it. Cue the Irish wake. And a football field is far more dangerous than a slippery sidewalk in February. Not only does it get slippery when the weather is shitty, but you got 300-lb. guys out there trying to knock you into next week when your broken body will be some other team’s problem. And our O-line hasn’t been living up to its potential in recent years. Someone is gonna hit this poor bastard, and they’re gonna hit him HARD.
It might not be his elbow. His elbow could be bionic Adamantium now for all I know. But his knees, his ribs, his wrists… he’s a big guy, and that’s a lot of bulk being supported by bone in there. And he’s not as light on his feet as he used to be. He’s 3rd in the NFL sack record at 503. That takes a toll on the body as a whole, not just the elbows. On average, he gets sacked 33 times a season. We can’t ask him to do this again. I love the Steelers, I love our players, our coaching staff is on thin ice, but they’re still “fam” as the kids say… and I love Big Ben. He strikes me as a humble guy. Watching him receive praise makes ME uncomfortable just because it seems to make HIM uncomfortable. And when things go wrong, he’s always been a the-buck-stops-here kind of guy. He steps up. (Unless you’re dealing with a diva nut job like AB, but come on — AB did AB in, nobody else. AB is like the Florida Man of football. You check the news every day to see what stupid-crazy shit he’s been doing. Anyone else in the pool? Who’s got AB in a monster truck with a meth-rattled alligator tearing up Roger Goodell’s lawn? And we ALL know Goodell would deserve that shit.)
Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow might be the 6-Billion-Dollar Elbow now, but the rest of him needs to face facts. Maybe he can throw the ball like never before, with laser targeting, hydro-pump action and all, but between the snap and seconds after it is rocketing down the field to find its receiver, the rest of Ben is a big, breakable target.
And if the past season showed us anything, it was that Pittsburgh has no reliable back-up. I hate to say it, but I think Ben will be out again after 3-5 games. Maybe not for the whole season, but enough to rattle us again. Enough to keep us out of the playoffs.
But what do I know? Nothing. Here’s me being an idiot in Nepal.
Bothering buskers in Paris…
Bein’ a dipshit in Dubai…
A chump in China…
Shaking down Seoulites on the subway in Seoul after our last Super Bowl win (2009, I think? Bruce Springsteen was the halftime show, and it was the best Super Bowl I have ever seen.)
The list goes on. I will continue to cheer for the Black & Gold, and for Big Ben, from all the corners of the Earth. But we need to start thinking about the future. We are running out of laurels upon which to rest.
Above — taken just two weeks prior to this post: Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Australia, and Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, where The All Blacks play (GO The All Blacks!)