Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement Thursday morning after 18 seasons in the NFL.
The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback made the anticipated announcement via Twitter, officially marking the end of one of the most decorated careers in NFL history.
"I don't know how to put into words what the game of football has meant to me and what a blessing it has been," Roethlisberger said. "While I know with confidence I have given my all to the game, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all it has given me. A boy from Finley, Ohio with NFL dreams, developed at Oxford at Miami University, blessed with the honor of 18 seasons as a Pittsburgh Steeler and a place to call home. The journey has been exhilarating, defined by relationships and fueled by a spirit of competition. Yet, 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. I retire from football a truly grateful man."
The 39-year-old Roethlisberger had indicated the move was coming, and though there was perhaps a chance that he could extend his career with another franchise, he will retire as a member of the Steelers, holding nearly every notable franchise QB record.
In his time with the Steelers, one of the league's most storied franchises, Roethlisberger reached an NFL-record 18 seasons without ever having a losing campaign. With Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers were always in the mix, culminating with a Super Bowl XL win with head coach Bill Cowher and a Super Bowl XLIII triumph alongside Mike Tomlin.
He led the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances in all (Pittsburgh lost Super Bowl XLV to Green Bay), 12 postseason berths and eight division titles.
Statistically speaking, Roethlisberger's career is among the all-time greats.
He finishes his career ranked eighth in passing touchdowns (418), and fifth in passing yards (64,088), completions (5,440) and attempts (8,443).
In terms of the Steelers, Roethlisberger is the franchise standard in QB wins, passing yards, passing TDs, completions, attempts, 300-yard passing games, game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks.
Roethlisberger's 165 wins are the second-most behind Tom Brady with New England for most QB wins in a career with a single team.
Though the great Terry Bradshaw owns four Super Bowl titles with the Steelers, Roethlisberger's dominance in every other category makes an argument for being the best quarterback in the history of one of the league's best franchises.
"Ben was an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 2004 in the first round, Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. "He helped us win two Super Bowls during his career, and we are forever grateful for all the success he has helped bring to the organization the past 18 years. Ben will always be viewed as one of the all-time greats in our team history, and his determination, toughness and competitiveness will be remembered by everyone in the organization as well as Steeler Nation throughout the world."
Roethlisberger's prowess through the air also brought about a significant change to the storied franchise, which for so long was known for its defense and running game leading the way.
Big Ben was a starter from the onset, taking over the reins from Tommy Maddox as a rookie. He was 13-0 as a first-year starter on a 15-1 Steelers squad and was promptly voted AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, emerging from a legendary 2004 first-round draft class that featured fellow QBs Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and safety Sean Taylor.
It was the start of a career that saw six Pro Bowl trips.
While Roethlisberger's arm strength waned in past seasons, it was only four years ago in 2018 that he tallied a career-high 5,129 yards to lead the NFL.
His ability to prolong plays and hang tough to complete throws became a calling card, but it also led to him being sacked more than any quarterback (since at least 1970, per NFL Research).
Big Ben's toughness was lauded as he crafted a career regarded for winning and for becoming the face of the Steelers.
Roethlisberger was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in June of 2006 in which he wasn't wearing a helmet.
In July of 2009, he had a civil suit filed against him for sexual assault that concluded with a settlement. In March of 2010, Roethlisberger was investigated for sexual assault, but the district attorney declined to press charges. Roethlisberger was suspended four games games (reduced from six) to start the 2010 season due to violation of the NFL's personal-conduct policy.
Roethlisberger returned that season to captain the Steelers to a Super Bowl run, where they eventually lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
That appearance came two seasons after Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XLIII, 27-24, against the Arizona Cardinals in an all-time nail-biter. Roethlisberger threw the game-winning 6-yard touchdown pass to Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds remaining.
Roethlisberger's first Super Bowl celebration came following a 21-10 victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. It was Roethlisberger's second season, and at 23 he became the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl. Though he scored a rushing touchdown, he largely struggled against Seattle, but as was emblematic of his career, a win was had no matter how good, bad or ugly it looked.
When he was selected by the Steelers 18 years ago out of Miami (Ohio), there were high hopes for Big Ben to become a franchise quarterback and add to Pittsburgh's legacy of winning.
He did that and then some. The Steelers were an AFC heavyweight just about every autumn as Roethlisberger kept Pittsburgh a contender in an era in which Brady and Peyton Manning carved out iconic careers.
The clock has hit midnight for Big Ben, a career marked by consistent success having concluded.
Now it's on to a new era for the Steelers and on to the Hall of Fame for Roethlisberger.
"To my wife, Ashley, our children Benjamin, Baylee and Bodie, you lift and inspire me and give my life purpose," Roethlisberger said Thursday. "I am so thankful for your love and support, I love you so much. To my parents and sister, every step of the way, your support and love has driven me to be the best and never give up. To the Rooney Family, the Tull family, coach Tomlin, coach [Bill] Cowher and all the coaches who have poured into me, the incredible people on every level that make the Pittsburgh Steelers a special organization, thank you for believing in me and allowing me to battle with you in pursuit of excellence.
"To all my teammates and the endless friendships that I have gained, I appreciate you and our shared commitment to wearing the black and gold with pride and dignity. Putting that jersey on every Sunday with my brothers will always be one of the greatest joys of my life. To Steeler Nation, the best fans in all of sport, thank you for accepting and supporting me as your quarterback over the years. Football has been a gift and I thank God for allowing me to play it, surrounding me with great people and protecting me through it to the end. With love and honor."