The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ben Roethlisberger says CTE among ’scary things’ that could make this season his last

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during training camp in Latrobe, Pa., on Friday. (Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

He has not exactly shied away from the topic in the past, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger provided some concrete rationale Friday as to whether he’ll soon call it a career.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said he has begun thinking about retirement, citing his age, his wife and family and this week’s report in which researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and VA Boston Healthcare System found chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 110 of 111 former NFL players’ brains.

In telling the Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette that his wife is ready for him to give up playing football, Roethlisberger, 35, did not commit himself to playing beyond the upcoming season, which jibes somewhat with comments he made following the Steelers’ loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game in January.

“I’ve been blessed to do this a long time,” said Roethlisberger, a 14-year veteran. “It’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that but it still consumes you in a way.

“Just all those things combined — being healthy, being able to play catch with my kids. I feel good mentally, I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players’ brains who were studied had CTE. There’s a lot of scary things, and I think my wife would be okay if I hung it up, too. But I still love the guys, I still love the game, so it was right for me to come back and give it everything I have this year.”

Roethlisberger, a five-time Pro Bowler who has won two of the three Super Bowls he has reached at the Steelers’ helm, completed 64.4 percent of his passes in 14 starts last season, throwing for 3,819 yards to go with 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those 29 scoring passes marked the second-highest total of his career. Roethlisberger hasn’t started 16 games in a regular season since 2014, a year in which he passed for a career-high 4,952 yards in leading the Steelers back to the playoffs after a two-year drought.

“I feel if I commit to anything past right now, I’m cheating now,” he told Bouchette. “I’m looking forward to this season, and I’m going to give it everything I have and afterward we’ll sit down and do some [thinking] again.”

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