Quick flashback. It’s a Sunday afternoon in 2015. I’m a junior in college, kidding myself because I’m at the library trying to get work done but I’m streaming the Steelers at Rams. No work is getting done.
Big Ben goes down and doesn’t get up because of a hit on a bad spot on his left leg courtesy of a Rams defender. (Mark Barron!!!) I shoot up out of my chair sending it flying backwards and scream with no regard for the other students around me. All the eyes on me go completely unnoticed because my eyes are glued to my laptop. To the image of Ben rolling around in pain. That’s my quarterback. My whole life, Ben has been the guy. He’s gone through the ringer in his career. But this blow had him in agonizing pain.
It ended up being the most significant injury of Ben’s career in terms of how long it kept him out of the game. That is, until he missed 14 games last season because of a surgery to address an injury on his right elbow. The details surrounding the injury and surgery weren’t necessarily crystal clear. What was clear was Ben was going to be out for a while, but it was assumed he could be able to play next season. Recently, it’s been publicized Ben will get the full clear sometime in the next couple of months.
Finally. Even though I wasn’t getting frequent updates I was still saying to myself, “Come on, this is BIG Ben we’re talking about. Of course he’s going to be able to come back from this. If anyone can, Ben can.” Those self reassurances were reiterated so often because there was a looming tinge of doubt. But this update immediately quited those doubts.
And then we got this.
I sat on my phone and watched the clip play over and over and over. It doesn’t help this past season was pretty much a lost cause, so it’s easy to say that clip was more enjoyable than any highlight from this season. I get goosebumps just thinking about what this means. There were so many moments this past season when if Ben was in for just one play (one freaking play), the game result is totally changed. No one doubts the Steelers’ capabilities when Ben is on the field. Watching Ben throw the football is such a beacon of hope to redeem this wasted season.
I can’t help but think what life is going to be like when Ben really does finally throw in the towel. I was only nine when Ben was a rookie, so there were only three years of my time spent as a fan that I can actually remember when the Steelers were in a quarterback purgatory. I am not prepared to be an adult and not a six-year-old kid, and have to live through an extension of what this past season was for the Steelers. I have no problem admitting I’m spoiled because of Ben’s career. I hate it because let me repeat myself: I am not ready for a Steelers team post Big Ben.
I’m about to go watch the clip of Ben throwing the ball another 100 times. I may do so every day until the season starts. With Ben on the field supported by one of the best defenses he’s had, there’s no reason the Steelers shouldn’t be considered a top three threat to win the Super Bowl. I can’t wait for this season to start. And I have no problem waiting for the post-Ben era to arrive, let that take as long as it can to finally come.
Jacob Recht is a producer for ESPN Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @jakeyrecht
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