The one downside to playing in the NFL for nearly 20 years, as is the situation Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger finds himself in, is the higher chance that one will hold dubious records. Tom Brady, who is already in his 22nd NFL season, knows the feeling.
Roethlisberger, who is potentially in his final NFL season, became the sole owner of an unfortunate record earlier this year. However, the good news is that Brady, who appears destined to play forever, might soon take the title for himself.
Ben Roethlisberger quietly broke the NFL’s career sacks record earlier this season
With nearly 250 regular-season starts under his belt, Roethlisberger will eventually retire with no shortage of gaudy numbers, especially in the passing yards (63,414 as of Dec. 11, 2021) and touchdowns (415) categories.
However, the fact Roethlisberger is in his 18th season not only indicates he’s old (at least by NFL standards), but it means the 39-year-old has taken plenty of hits along the way. The Green Bay Packers sacked Big Ben twice in a 27-17 Packers victory on Oct. 3. Packers pass-rusher Rashan Gary’s fourth-quarter takedown marked the 526th regular-season sack Roethlisberger had taken.
Fittingly, Roethlisberger passed Packers legend Brett Favre, who had been sacked 525 times from 1991-2010, for first place on the NFL’s all-time list. When factoring in the playoffs, Roethlisberger has been sacked 577 times, 16 more (and counting) than Favre’s 561.
Considering Roethlisberger has only started a full season four times, one can only imagine the number if he had not dealt with so many injuries. Then again, 577 total sacks go a long way in ensuring a quarterback is often on the injury report.
Brady should surpass Roethlisberger either later this season or early in 2022
As of publication, Roethlisberger’s 546 sacks narrowly lead Brady, who has been taken down 535 times. Had the three-time NFL MVP not missed almost all of the 2008 season with a torn ACL, there is reason to believe he’d own this record just as he does passing yards and touchdowns.
Actually, let us clarify for a second. Technically, Brady already owns the sack record; opponents have sacked him 72 times in the postseason, giving him 607 and counting entering Week 14. However, records like these almost always belong to whoever has the highest regular-season total, so the title isn’t his yet—lucky him.
Luckily for Roethlisberger, he likely won’t need to wear the crown much longer. Brady, who turned 44 in August, has shown no desire to retire after this season. Barring anything unexpected, he will return in 2022 and become the oldest starting quarterback in league history.
As of publication, Roethlisberger had not guaranteed he would retire following the 2021 campaign. However, his contract expires in March, and the Steelers have not publicly committed to running things back next year.
Which other active quarterbacks are atop the NFL’s all-time sacks list?
As of December 2021, only four quarterbacks — Roethlisberger, Brady, Favre, and Denver Broncos legend John Elway — are in the 500-sack club. Rodgers, who replaced Favre as the Packers’ starter in 2008, has been sacked 489 times and could join that group before the 2021 season ends.
Atlanta Falcons great Matt Ryan has been sacked 436 times, and Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson is tied for 14th place at 420. Astoundingly, Wilson is only in his 10th NFL season, and he’s almost in the top-10. Los Angeles Rams star Matthew Stafford and his 402 sacks (19th all-time) round out the active quarterbacks of note.
According to Pro Football Reference, 19 quarterbacks have been sacked at least 400 times. Barring an unexpected career resurgence, don’t expect Joe Flacco (368 sacks) to become the 20th.
Perhaps the most interesting note is Brady, Ryan, Stafford, and Wilson have all regularly stayed healthy. Brady hasn’t missed a game because of injury since 2008, and Ryan has only missed a single start since 2010. After battling injuries in his first two seasons, Stafford has only missed eight starts, all coming in the 2019 season because of a back problem since 2011. Wilson began his career with 165 consecutive starts (149 in the regular season and 16 in the playoffs) before suffering a finger problem in October.
Then, there’s Roethlisberger, who has an extensive injury history. Let that alone serve as proof that the NFL remains unpredictable.