It might be fair to call Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a late bloomer.
Anyone familiar with Roethlisberger’s NFL career might dispute that fact. Roethlisberger has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback since 2004, won two Super Bowls in his first five seasons, and appears destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
How can someone with that resume be considered a late bloomer? Roethlisberger has had all that success, on the field and financially, despite not playing quarterback until his senior year of high school.
Ben Roethlisberger is a Pittsburgh Steelers legend
Ben Roethlisberger is still playing at an elite level at age 38, and the Pittsburgh Steelers needed that this season.
Through the Steelers’ first 11 games, Roethlisberger completed 67.5% of his passes for 2,800 yards, 25 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Roethlisberger is on pace to finish the 2020 season with 4,072 yards, 36 touchdowns, and eight interceptions; those numbers, coupled with the Steelers’ pursuit of an unbeaten season, could earn Roethlisberger the MVP Award.
For his career, Roethlisberger has completed 64.5% of his passes for 59,345 yards, 388 touchdowns, and 197 interceptions. The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback is 13-8 in the playoffs and has made the postseason 10 times so far.
Pittsburgh will almost certainly make that 11 times this season.
He didn’t play quarterback until late in high school
Ben Roethlisberger is the last of a dying breed.
That wasn’t the case once. Although he only played quarterback at Miami University (Ohio), Roethlisberger spent his junior season of high school at wide receiver.
Findlay High School (Ohio) head coach Cliff Hite kept his son, Ryan, as the starter. Roethlisberger had backed Hite up the year before and moved to receiver for the 1998 season.
Roethlisberger recalled his season at receiver in an interview with ESPN earlier this year.
“[Findlay] coach [Cliff Hite] was always like, ‘It benefited you as a senior playing quarterback from playing wide receiver your junior year. “I never understood it at the time, but I think it does to a certain extent because you can see the other side of it.”
Roethlisberger totaled 57 catches for 757 yards and seven touchdowns. He also finished the year with 116 passing yards and two touchdowns, with most of the passes coming on trick plays.
Hite later played wide receiver at Denison University, a Division III program in Ohio.
Ben Roethlisberger has since earned plenty of money
Ben Roethlisberger has had a career that will likely land him in the Hall of Fame when he hangs up his cleats.
Roethlisberger’s bank account has benefited, too. According to Spotrac, Roethlisberger has earned over $253 million in his career.
Barring another restructure to his contract, that total will increase to over $272 million in 2021.
Those would be stellar paydays for anyone. Someone who didn’t play quarterback until his senior year of high school making that much money is just another extraordinary feat on Roethlisberger’s list of accomplishments.