PITTSBURGH — Following 18 long seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who dominated the Browns over the course of his career, officially announced his retirement on Thursday morning, posting a video on his Twitter account.
"The time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats and continue to be all I can be to my wife and children," Roethlisberger said in the video. " I retire from football a truly grateful man."
Roethlisberger played his final home game at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns and his final regular season road game against the Baltimore Ravens, winning both and landing a Wild Card playoff spot. Pittsburgh went on to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs, ending their season and Roethlisberger's career.
The 18 seasons Roethlisberger played were filled with success for him and the Steelers and heartbreak here in Cleveland.
Drafted 11th overall in the 2004, Roethlisberger—a Findlay, Ohio native—was passed on by the Browns, who selected now imprisoned tight end Kellen Winslow II with the sixth overall pick. Thinking he might end up playing for his then-home team, Roethlisberger was surprised the Browns passed him up and used it as fuel early in his career. It worked.
Roethlisberger went on to terrorize the Browns year after year, recording a 26-3-1 record against Cleveland. Until Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield surpassed it, Roethlisberger had held the record for most wins by a quarterback in FirstEnergy Stadium.
Suffice to say, Roethlisberger was not a well-liked man in Cleveland.
Roethlisberger went on to lead the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles, eight division titles and 165 regular season wins, finishing fifth all time in passing yards and completions. He ended his career one drive short of Peyton Manning's record for game-winning drives.
While Roethlisberger made his retirement official Thursday, it was no surprise. He restructured his contract after last season after the Steelers made it clear they wouldn't have him back without a restructure. It looked like the Steelers were ready to part ways, but Roethlisberger worked with the organization to pull out one last season before his retirement.
Roethlisberger was a leading quarterback in the NFL, but he had his off-field issues during his career as well.
In 2009, Roethlisberger was accused of raping a woman in his hotel room at a Lake Tahoe casino the prior summer. Roethlisberger denied the allegations repeatedly for years, and the lawsuits were settled out of court in 2012.
Then, in 2010, Roethlisberger was once again accused of sexual assault—this time by a 20-year-old student at Georgia College & State University who alleged the quarterback raped her in a nightclub bathroom stall. Roethlisberger did not have charges filed against him in that case but did receive a six-game suspension, which was later reduced to four games.
Roethlisberger's past likely won't impact any of his future accolades, including a Hall of Fame induction, which seems probable. His first year of eligibility for induction will be in 2027.
Until then, Browns fans will happily wave goodbye to the quarterback who caused them so much grief over those 18 long years.
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