It was a move many anticipated, but it's now official. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced on Thursday that he's retiring at the age of 39. The No. 11 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Miami University won two Super Bowls in Pittsburgh and was a six-time Pro Bowler.
"Big Ben" played in 249 regular-season games, 23 postseason games and three Super Bowls. He retires while sitting at No. 5 on the all-time passing list with 64,088 yards -- one spot behind Brett Favre and right above Philip Rivers. The 2004 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year made his mark on the Steelers immediately, as he led Pittsburgh to the most wins ever recorded by a rookie with 15. Later, he became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to win 100 games in the first 150 starts of his career. Roethlisberger also holds the NFL record for most career 500-yard passing games with four.
Roethlisberger announced his decision to retire on Twitter:
"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," Roethlisberger said in his farewell video. "But I know with confidence I have given my all to the game. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all it has given me."
Roethlisberger got to end his 18-year career in the playoffs, as he finished the regular season with two straight wins to secure a playoff berth. While the Steelers were bounced by the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-21, Roethlisberger threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
In early December, reports surfaced that Roethlisberger had privately told teammates and those in the organization that he planned to walk away from football at the end of the season. He didn't do much to address the reports, but his final home game against the Cleveland Browns had an emotional ending, as Roethlisberger remained on the field for some time with his family and took a final lap around Heinz Field.
Even after the postseason loss to the Chiefs, Roethlisberger didn't exactly say he was retiring, but spoke as if he was.
"I'm just so thankful," Roethlisberger said. "I hope that I've been able to pass the legacy of what it is to be a Steeler. From Dan Rooney. We all miss him. Anyone that knew him misses him. Hopefully I can pass some of that on to some of the guys and the tradition of what it means to be a Steeler can be passed down. ... We've got some guys in there that will continue to do that. Gave Cam [Heyward] a big hug and told him it's on him now. It's his job to pass it down and to keep teaching and holding guys to the Pittsburgh standard."
The last-remaining quarterback from the legendary 2004 class, Roethlisberger threw for 3,740 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his final regular season. His 249 regular-season games are the most of any player in franchise history. He went 165-81-1 in the regular season while compiling the fifth-most regular-season wins in NFL history. Next stop for Roethlisberger? Most likely Canton.