The Pittsburgh Steelers are at the crossroads of their season, and Ben Roethlisberger is at the crossroads of his career with news Monday that the team’s franchise quarterback will need to undergo season-ending elbow surgery.
Roethlisberger clutched his right elbow and winced in pain after throwing a pair of passes in the first half the Steelers’ 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Roethlisberger did not return after halftime, and an MRI taken that night confirmed the Steelers’ worst fears.
“It’s terrible,” All-Pro guard David DeCastro said. “It sucks being hurt and not able to play the game. You really take it for granted when you’re out here having a good time.”
Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and in his 16th season as the team’s quarterback. The Steelers, off to a 0-2 start for the first time in six seasons, will turn to second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph as the starter. Rudolph played the second half against Seattle and threw two touchdown passes.
“You’ve got to react to adversity,” said Rudolph, who had never taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game until Sunday. “I’m getting to play football and getting to fulfill a dream and continue at this level, and I’m excited to do that.”
Roethlisberger was at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Monday but did not speak with reporters. He will be 38 when the Steelers begin preparations for the 2020 season.
“Ben has been the unquestioned leader around here, and he still will be,” defensive captain Cameron Heyward said. “We’re going to have his back. We have to just try to make him proud.”