Can Ben Roethlisberger Lead the Steelers From the Sidelines?

The Pittsburgh Steelers journey since 2018 has been one that is marred with disaster. After Le’Veon Bell held-out all last year and Antonio Brown’s loud departure from the team, all eyes were pointed on the team headed into the 2019 season. It was supposed to be a new beginning and one where Ben Roethlisberger could have a re-emergence as a leader in that locker room.

His season, unfortunately, was cut short after only two games, but can the veteran quarterback maintain his leadership, regardless? 

Ben Roethlisberger’s Leadership

Roethlisberger has been a dominant quarterback since he first started in the NFL, but he has sparred with teammates who feel like he is held to a different standard than the other players both personally and from the team. It was a major sticking point between Antonio Brown and the organization during his departure saga. However, Roethlisberger spoke about his desire to be a better leader. 

From hosting many of his teammates at his Georgia lake house to trying to connect to them on a more personal level in the past, Roethlisberger seemed to be addressing some of his shortcomings as a teammate and addressing them head-on.

Past issues

Brown and Ben Roethlisberger were a famously volatile duo, but Brown has proven that he is, at the very least, equally culpable when it comes to his treatment of teammates and organizations. Roethlisberger, according to the sources from ESPN, was often behind the scenes trying to squelch any flames. 

Still, it is not unfair to say that Roethlisberger’s penchant for calling out teammates and deflecting blame on himself could wear on teammates, and as the 37-year-old looked into the twilight of his career, a change in perception could help both he and his teammates. With Roethlisberger sidelined, however, everything could change. 

Ben Roethlisberger’s injury

During a week 2 game against Seattle, Ben Roethlisberger appeared to grimace in pain. The pass was nothing out of the ordinary, but it appeared to be something related to his elbow. The next day it came out that Roethlisberger would be receiving a similar surgery to what is known in baseball as Tommy John Surgery. As a result, Roethlisberger will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

In his absence, young quarterback Mason Rudolph will have to take over the reins of the franchise more quickly than he imagined. Although Rudolph was drafted in 2018 out of Oklahoma State, the sophomore quarterback had not thrown a snap before being thrust into the game after Roethlisberger’s injury, and if he has a good enough year, could he keep the job for an even longer stretch? 

Furthermore, if Roethlisberger is out, can his leadership still be felt from the sidelines with his job and possible career on the line in the process? 

Leadership without playing

Ben Roethlisberger came into the season hoping to be a leader like he’s never been before. Despite this setback, perhaps this will be the greatest sign of his leadership going forward. At 37 years old, he is likely worried about his legacy going forward. Especially with some of the spots on his past resume on and off the field.

While Roethlisberger must focus on his rehabilitation off the field, it does not mean that his leadership cannot shine through. Mason Rudolph and the rest of the offense will likely need a boost. Especially following the 0-2 start the Steelers have gotten out to. If Roethlisberger is serious about becoming a leader, his elbow injury should not stop him from being able to act as a leader for the team.