Roethlisberger’s legacy on the field is secure. He guided the storied franchise to a pair of Super Bowl victories and recorded a team-record 166 victories as quarterback.
But when he retired following the 2021 season and watched Pickett, the 20th pick in the draft, eventually take over the team in 2022, he wasn’t exactly rooting for the rookie.
“Early on, I didn’t want him to succeed,” Roethlisberger said while Pickett was a guest on the former player’s “Footbahlin” show. “I think that’s probably the selfishness of me and I feel bad for it,” he added.
The ex-Steeler said he wanted to be “super-transparent” even if he would be “blasted” for his candor. He explained that he didn’t want fans to forget him. He said he hoped Pickett didn’t “ball out” ― play well ― “because then it’s like, Ben who?”
Roethlisberger said he began cheering for Pickett by his third game. “I feel bad but I’m glad I transitioned into loving to root for you,” he said.
“That means a lot,” Pickett said.
Pickett threw for 2,404 yards and 7 touchdowns during a season in which the Steelers improved in the second half. “I expect him to kill it” next season, coach Mike Tomlin said of Pickett recently.
Roethlisberger announced his retirement at age 39 in early 2022, saying, “I have given my all to the game, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what it has given me.”
Off the field, Roethlisberger’s career was tainted by two sexual assault allegations, one of which was settled out of court. In the other, the woman’s lawyer asked the district attorney not to proceed with a criminal case due to the media attention but did not recant her allegations. Roethlisberger has denied the accusations.