Ben Roethlisberger looked very much like a quarterback with precious little in the tank over the past few years, so it's not surprising at all that the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to go in a different direction. The fact that Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett do not seem like significant drop-offs is a pretty good sign that the long and fruitful marriage had run its course. And although both parties took the high road and put on a nice face for the swansong, there may be some lingering tension behind the scenes.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette surmised the situation in a Q&A with his readers.
Billy Bob: Is there bad blood between the Steelers and Big Ben with how his career ended. Was he ready to retire or was it a Troy type situation where he was forced into it?
Gerry Dulac: I would say it's very very safe to assume that.
It's a tale as old as time. If you want straight answers, you get Billy Bob on the case. All Billy Bobs are great interviewers, possessing that aw-shucks comfort and dogged determination in droves.
Now, practically, this doesn't mean much. Bad blood or otherwise, Steelers fans are always going to appreciate Big Ben for what he did. Roethlisberger would have to re-invent himself to ever come back and stick it in the organization's face. And in two years the Steelers will be in a far more advantageous position if they'd stuck with their longtime signal-caller into his forties.
All good things have to come to an end. That doesn't mean that it's easy.