Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger Retire: Legacies of of Football Greatness


Image used under a Creative Common license, provided by Wikimedia Commons.

Noah Scherson, Staff Writer

After a combined 40 seasons in the NFL, two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks announced their retirement this year. Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have hung up their cleats, leaving the game for good.

As an Ohio native, Roethlisberger stayed home to play college football at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

Roethlisberger dominated during his junior year when he threw for 37 touchdowns and just under 4,500 yards. He would forgo his senior year in favor of the NFL draft in 2004, where he was picked with the 11th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Out of Junipero Serra High School, Brady was a highly touted recruit and ultimately landed at the University of Michigan. 

Brady played as a backup his first two seasons and had to fight for the starting spot for both of his final seasons. He won the Citrus Bowl against Arkansas in 1999 and the Orange Bowl against Alabama in 2000. 

Despite his college success, Brady fell hard in the draft, as he was drafted 199th overall in the 2000 NFL draft by the New England Patriots and was a backup his entire rookie season to Drew Bledsoe.

In Brady’s second season in the NFL, Bledsoe suffered internal bleeding after getting hit by a New York Jets linebacker in one of the biggest “what if” moments in NFL history. Brady was handed the reins for the remainder of the 2001-2002 season and led the Patriots to the playoffs. 

Brady would lead the Patriots to 3 Super Bowl victories (2001, 2003, 2004) by the time Roethlisberger had finished his first season in the NFL. Roethlisberger would respond by winning his first ring the year after (2005). 

Looking back at their beginnings, their starts were all too different. Roethlisberger never played quarterback until his senior year of high school while Brady was bred to be a quarterback in California. Brady was a big name in the southwest but Roethlisberger struggled to get looks.

This narrative totally switched when Roethlisberger was a first-round pick in 2004 while Brady fell to the sixth round in 2000. The narrative would shift again as their careers evolved. 

Roethlisberger would become a legendary Steelers quarterback, racking up 2 Super Bowl victories and holding up a career record of 165-81-1 throughout his 18 seasons with the team. 

Roethlisberger has had some questions arise for his Hall of Fame run. While the quarterback holds many franchise records and has consistently won games, he has never once won an MVP or Offensive Player of the Year award in his career. However, he is a 6-time Pro Bowler and won Offensive Rookie of the Year.

On the other side, Brady has an undisputed resume. Brady has won a total of 7 Super Bowls, 6 in New England and 1 in Tampa Bay, has received 3 MVP titles, and has played in the Super Bowl 10 out of his 20 seasons. 

Tommy Terrific, as Brady is sometimes called, has been long argued to take the position of the “G.O.A.T.” (Greatest Of All Time). There is nothing holding him back from being a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee as he holds 35 records when split up between regular season, post-season, and Super Bowl. 

It made sense for Roethlisberger to retire. To be frank, he looked like a corpse of his former self. Roethlisberger did not go out as a total flop though, as he did make the playoffs. In his final game, Roethlisberger was 29 of 44 on pass attempts with 215 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Although the stats seem to suggest that he only had a below-average season, the only thing keeping him afloat was the system he had been in for 18 years and his excellent supporting cast.

On the other hand, Brady’s retirement raised further questions. The main one being: could he have done more?

Saying Brady is a great quarterback is like saying the sun is hot; it’s an understatement. This year, Brady was 2nd in MVP voting while playing at the age of 44.

Brady claimed that his retirement decision was heavily influenced by family. He wanted to spend more time with his kids and wife as playing the quarterback position at his level is extremely time-consuming. Many of his former teammates say that they expect him to eventually come out of retirement. This includes long-time teammate and friend Rob Gronkowski. 

As I look forward to the 2022 NFL season, I realize the league is having a quarterback rejuvenation. These two talented quarterbacks have paved the way and inspired many of those who have shocked the league. Some current players were mere toddlers when Brady won his first Super Bowl.

Both Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady had an enormous influence on the landscape of football. They were big reasons why the league is so pass-friendly today. Their legacies will never be forgotten, not only to their respective teams and organizations, but also to every football fan today.

I grew up with the legendary trio that was Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. While this offense dominated the regular season, I loathed Brady for his unique ability to constantly prevail in the postseason. I had to watch, in pain, as Brady won four Super Bowls.

Although they may or may not return to the NFL, the greatness of these two players cannot be outdone. Both are riding into the sunset this year, knowing that they have made their mark on the game of football.