Ben Roethlisberger has played in more games in Steelers' history than any other player, with 249 under his belt, but that number will end there as Roethlisberger announced his retirement after 18 remarkable seasons in the black and gold.
Roethlisberger made his retirement announcement via social media, sitting alongside his family while sharing his thoughts, feelings, gratitude and thanks.
"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," began Roethlisberger. "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 Findlay, Ohio with NFL dreams, developed in 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.
"First and foremost I need to thank the Lord for all the many blessings He has bestowed on me. To my wife Ashley, our children Benjamin, Baylee and Bodie, you lift and inspire me and give my life purpose. I'm 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 (Mike) 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 to the end.
"With love and honor."
Roethlisberger, who has been the heart and soul of the Steelers offense in his 18 seasons, will go down as one of the best to ever play for the team, breaking records and bringing the team back to their glory days during his time at the helm.
With Roethlisberger at quarterback, the Steelers had 12 postseason berths, won eight AFC North Championships, appeared in five AFC Championship games, and went to three Super Bowls, winning two of them.
Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl when the team won Super Bowl XL, when he was 23, and the second-youngest quarterback to ever win a second Super Bowl when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.
Take a look at photos of Ben Roethlisberger in each of his three Super Bowl appearances
Roethlisberger was the Steelers first-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Miami of Ohio, the 11th overall pick. He stepped into the starting lineup early, starting in Week 2 of the 2004 season after Tommy Maddox was injured. He led the team to a 13-0 record as a starter, taking the team all the way to the AFC Championship game.
"He was in a very difficult position, having to be a rookie signal caller on a veteran offense where he wasn't asked to be the leader on the offense," said Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, who was in his ninth season when Roethlisberger was a rookie. "It was a difficult transition for him because you're asking him to be a leader on the field, but when he stepped off the field, he was a rookie again.
"He handled it so well. We were able to keep winning, and we leaned on him. By the end of the year, he was a veteran guy because he had been through so much. On the field was just magical, the things that he was able to do and the way he played like a veteran in his rookie year. He had a challenge, but he was able to face it head on and did a great job."
In his second season he took it one step further, guiding the Steelers to a Super Bowl XL win, which included winning three games on the road in the postseason, and even making a tackle (following a Bettis lost fumble), that saved the postseason run.
It wouldn't take long for Roethlisberger to get the Steelers right back on top again, leading the team to a win in Super Bowl XLIII (2008), with a remarkable pass to Santonio Holmes in the final minute to secure the victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The two-time Super Bowl champion holds numerous Steelers' records, including passing yards, completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing touchdowns, passing touchdowns of at least 60 yards, passer rating, yards per attempt, 300-yard passing games and 3,000-yard passing seasons, and as well as games played.
Roethlisberger oozed confidence when he took the field and when it came to the fourth quarter, and the game was on the line, he shined the brightest. He had 53 game-winning drives, tied for third all-time in the NFL in that category. He also orchestrated 41 fourth quarterback comebacks.
"For me it felt like we always had a chance when Ben was in the huddle," said former tight end Heath Miller, who was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, one year after Roethlisberger arrived. "It didn't matter the talent around. We always had a chance no matter who we were playing because he was in the huddle. He had that confidence, something you have to have at that position. Everyone believed in him.
"I think that's a trait that makes him so great, his ability to be so competitive. He always wants to be the best. That's what drives him. And he's been able to balance that with being a good sport, respecting the game and respecting his teammates, but also, the guys he's competing against. I think he does a great job of balancing those things."
The 2021 season was one filled with NFL milestones for Roethlisberger, with him reaching new heights in multiple categories week after week.
Roethlisberger passed Philip Rivers for fifth place all-time in passing yards in NFL history when the Steelers defeated the Tennessee Titans in Week 15. Roethlisberger is behind only Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
Roethlisberger also passed Rivers for fifth place all-time in career completions in 2021. The top five include Brees, Brady, Favre and Manning.
Roethlisberger joined an elite fraternity when he threw his 400th career touchdown pass this season. Roethlisberger joined a group that includes Brady, Brees, Favre, Manning, Dan Marino, Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.
Roethlisberger also hit the 3,000-yard plateau for the 15th time in his career in 2021, only the sixth player in NFL history to do so.
But there is one stat that really hits home for him. And home is the key word.
Roethlisberger is ranked third in the NFL for most wins in one stadium in NFL history, with 92 wins under his belt at Heinz Field.
"That's the one that means the most to me because it's about wins and winning is all I've ever really cared about and tried to do," said Roethlisberger. "It's not an individual thing. It's about wins and that to me is special.
"It's about the fans. It doesn't matter what's going on with our season, the fans are special. They bleed it. I'm not saying anything that anybody around here doesn't know. They are the best fans in all of sports. There's no doubt about it. I always wanted to give them a memory."
The memories he has given fans over his 18 seasons are too many to count. But they are memories that should land Roethlisberger where all of the Steelers greatest players are – in Canton, Ohio as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"It's humbling to have people say that, but I try not to think about it," said Roethlisberger. "That's such a special, elite company to be in, elite place. If one day you're lucky enough, blessed enough for them to call your name or them to come shake your hand and tell you that you're in…it's hard to think about it until then. People talk about it. You just get humbled every time it's brought up. I think outside of the Super Bowl, that's the highest honor you can get, and I would feel incredibly blessed one day to be able to get in there."
Roethlisberger's Career Passing Numbers
231 games started
64.4% completion percentage
94.0 quarterback rating
15 3,000-plus yard passing seasons
Steelers All-Time Passing Records Held by Roethlisberger
Passing TDs (396)
Passing TDs of at least 60 yards (22)
Passing yards (60,348)
Passer rating (94.0)
Pass attempts (7,838)
Completion percentage (64.4)
Yards per attempt (7.7)
300-yard passing games (66)
3,000-yard passing seasons (14)
Roethlisberger's All-Time NFL Rankings
1st, 500-yard passing games (3)
1st, 450-yard passing games (6)
4th, 400-yard passing games (12)
6th, Completions (5,050)
7th, Passing yards (60,348)
8th, Passing TDs (396)
Steelers Single Season Passing Records Held by Roethlisberger
Completions (452 in 2018)
Attempts (675 in 2018)
TD passes (34 in 2018)
Passer rating (104.1 in 2007)
Completion percentage (68.0 in 2015)
Passing yards (5,129 in 2018)
300-yard games (9 in 2014)
Games with a passer rating of 100.0 or more (10 in 2014)
Steelers Single Game Passing Records Held by Roethlisberger
Most passing yards (522, 10/26/14 vs. Indianapolis)
Completions (44, 12/10/17 vs. Baltimore)
Attempts (66, 12/10/17 vs. Baltimore)
Completion percentage (min. 20 attempts, 88.0, 11/8/18 vs. Carolina)
Touchdown passes (6, (10/26/14 vs. Indianapolis and 11/2/14 vs. Baltimore)