Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's career came to a close after 18 years of winning football. And for the first time in over a decade, the black and gold can look back on the amazing career of No. 7.
Roethlisberger's final season didn't finish as planned, as the Steelers fought plenty of lows to get themselves into the postseason one last time for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
"I'm proud to play with these guys," Roethlisberger said after the team's Wild Card loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. "God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players. And it has just been truly a blessing and I'm so thankful to Him for the opportunity that He's given me.
"Just a bunch of guys that fought for each other, that fought their butts off and just competed. It wasn't always pretty, but there are a lot of games that we found a way. I'm so proud of this group of men and the way they fight for each other, for the black and gold, for our fans. It's just been an honor to play with them."
Looking back, Roethlisberger isn't sure where he fits in the organization's history, but hopes he did enough to pass on the "Steeler way" now that he's headed into retirement.
"I've been here a long time, and it's been a lot of fun," Roethlisberger said. "Like I said, God has blessed me. We joke about the Browns and going there (in the NFL Draft), but it was meant to be that I was going to wear black and gold. Draft day I had a black suit on with a gold tie.
"I'm just so thankful. I hope that that I'm able to pass the legacy of what it is to be a Steeler from Dan Rooney. We all miss him, anyone that knew him misses him. Hopefully I can pass some of that on to some of the guys and they can continue the tradition of what it means to be a Steeler and get passed down.
"Whenever you get a bunch of new guys, once you start to lose some of the old regime if you will, you've got to find ways to pass it down. And we've got some guys in there that will continue to do that. I gave Cam (Heyward) a big hug and told him it's on him now. It's his job to pass it down and to keep teaching and holding guys to the Pittsburgh standard."
After football, Roethlisberger is going to focus on being a husband and father, but fully expects the itch of the game to come back once he sees things kicking off in training camp.
And even if Steelers Nation will be itching to have him back as well, it seems almost everyone has taken the time to cherish and thank Roethlisberger for his time as a Steeler.
"I get to go home tonight, and we've got snow and so the kids are already planning tubing and doing sledding and stuff," Roethlisberger said. "Being a husband and father, it never takes a day off. You got to keep going. As we move from one chapter to the next, it's going to be different, but it's going be fun. It's going to be a new challenge and I'm looking forward to it."
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