NBC’s broadcast of the AFC Wild Card game between Pittsburgh and Cleveland showed Ben Roethlisberger with tears streaming down his cheeks during the dying moments of the Steelers’ 48-37 loss to the Browns on Sunday night.
Cameras picked up Roethlisberger sitting on the sidelines staring straight ahead and emotionless as the clock hit triples zeros, and remained there when the two teams went to shake hands, as Big Ben began to weep.
You can spot Roethlisberger wiping the tears from his eyes as he talked to long-time Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who's errant snap on the game's opening play from scrimmage led to the Browns recovering the ball in the end zone for a touchdown just seconds in.
The 38-year-old threw for 501 yards, but most of them against consenting prevent defenses in the second half, as Big Ben also chucked four interceptions in a game that was 28-0 after the first quarter.
Roethlisberger's 68 pass attempts set the NFL postseason record, eclipsing Steve Young's record of 65 that he set in 1995. Only five players in regular-season history have thrown at least 68 times in a game, with former Patriots' QB Drew Bledsoe once throwing 70 times in 1994.
Despite the emotional optics making people believe it could be the body language of an athlete coming to the realization that his football career is over, he’ll make $41 million next season if he chooses to come back, making it difficult to imagine him just walking away from that amount of money.
Roethlisberger has reportedly already made plans to return in 2021, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting on December 21st that Roethilsineger would be returning for his 18th season.
Roethlinsger is a free agent after the 2021 season, making 2021 likely his final season in the NFL barring Big Ben deciding to leave the game after the way the season unraveled in Pittsburgh.