When Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced earlier this offseason that he was considering retirement, not many people gave it much thought.
It just seemed as if Big Ben would take some time to recover physically from the long 2016 season and then get back to work for 2017, which is eventually what happened.
However, according to Roethlisberger, he actually gave retirement a longer look than many people likely thought, and discussed his reasoning as the Steelers opened training camp this weekend.
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Big Ben told TribLive.com that he saw the reports about 110 of 111 former NFL players who had their brains studied having CTE and that's something he'd like to avoid. He said he considered retirement this offseason simply because he wants to be there for his kids for a long time:
“Of course,” Roethlisberger said. “I want to play catch with my kids. I want to know my kids' names. As much as I want my kids to remember what I did and watch me play the game, I also want to remember them when I'm 70 years old.”
Roethlisberger has suffered multiple concussions over the course of his career, so his concern for his future mental health is certainly warranted.
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Many felt Roethlisberger may have just said he wanted to retire because the Steelers came up short against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game last season, but Big Ben insists that had nothing to do with it:
“People who know me know I don't say things just to say them,” he said. “If I say something, I mean it. It had nothing to do with the frustrations of losing the AFC championship game. It was real talk. It was time to reflect and think.
“Family is the most important thing to me. As much as I love this game, family is always going to be more important. Once I talked to them and discussed it with them, I'm now 110 percent committed to football, and fans are going to get every ounce of me this season.”
With Roethlisberger back in the mix and fully committed, though, the Steelers should again be one of the best teams in the AFC. Big Ben, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell make up one of the best offensive trios in the entire NFL.
However, now that the seed has been planted in Roethlisberger's mind about retiring, it's safe to say it will continue to be a story every offseason for the rest of the 35-year-old's career.
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