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Ben Roethlisberger isn’t retiring from Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers and their fan base got a shock earlier this week when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took to the radio airwaves and declared he wasn’t ready to assure a 2017 season.

At 34 years old (turning 35 in March), Roethlisberger seems to be as good as ever. In 2016, Roethlisberger threw for 29 touchdowns and over 3,800 yards, leading Pittsburgh to an AFC North title and a pair of playoff wins over the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. However, all is not well with the future Hall of Famer.

Roethlisberger is not going to walk away, but a message like that doesn’t come for no reason. He’s clearly growing frustrated with some things within the organization, perhaps starting with the two best playmakers around him. Pittsburgh has struggled to get everyone on the same page, and at times, on the same field. Le’Veon Bell has been suspended multiple times in his young career, including a three-game ban to begin this season. Bell is only 24 years old and arguably the best running back in the game, but his actions have certainly dampened Steelers hopes in the past.

Then there is Antonio Brown. Brown is one of the top three receivers in the game, but he also stirred up plenty of controversy after the Pittsburgh win over Kansas City in the AFC Divisional round. Brown decided to go on Facebook Live in the locker room in the immediate aftermath, streaming a heated speech by head coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin was stern in his addressing of the situation in the following days, and Brown apologized, but the damage was done.

Ultimately, Roethlisberger is surrounded by a terrific team, but a volatile one. All of this baggage is to say nothing of assistant coach Joey Porter being arrested the night of the team’s win over Miami, and receiver Martavis Bryant being suspended for the entire year.

Pittsburgh has long been known as one of the best and most stable organizations in the league. It has not lived up to that reputation in recent seasons, something Roethlisberger may well be growing tired of.

If Steelers fans need the smoking gun on why Roethlisberger certainly will play in 2017, it’s about the money. Big Ben is signed through the next three years and would be forfeiting upwards of $40 million if he walked away. Despite being richer than he ever could’ve imagined as a youth, it’s beyond unlikely that Roethlisberger spurned that kind of cash, especially while playing for a contender.

All that said, maybe the Steelers need to make some changes both for the franchise and its quarterback. The team has not won a Super Bowl since 2008, so perhaps something must give.

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