With Big Ben's injury history, no surgery is "minor"
With Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, there's no longer such a thing as "minor" surgery.
Roethlisberger had arthroscopic surgery to clean out his right knee yesterday, the team announced, but he should be back in time to participate in training camp this summer. The same procedure cost him a game back in 2005.
The consummate tough guy, Roethlisberger would be back out there tomorrow if it were possible. He's played through injuries his entire career, many the result of heavy punishment taken behind a shaky offensive line.
Roethlisberger also plays an improvisational brand of football that lends itself to hits outside the pocket. As he extends plays, defenders are coming from all angles, but at 6-5 and 240 pounds, what's the harm in a little contact?
Well, none, so long as he keeps bouncing back up. But as Roethlisberger gets older -- he's now 31 -- and the mileage adds up, one can't help but wonder how much harder that's going to become.
Roethlisberger has suffered chest, rib, thumb, ankle, knee, shoulder, head, hand and foot injuries throughout his career. And those are just SOME of his documented ailments; who knows what else he's played through.
He nearly died in a motorcycle crash. A freakish rib injury he suffered last season was called "rare and dangerous" and threatened to end his life.
In quarterback years, 31 is far from old. Some of the most successful signal callers in the NFL -- Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees -- are Roethlisberger's elder. Roethlisberger, though, takes exponentially more punishment, almost as much as some running backs.
Perhaps that's why the time came to find a quarterback and attempt to groom him into a viable starter. By the time Roethlisberger's career is in the books, he could very well go down as a Hall of Famer. But that doesn't mean it's wise for the Steelers to go without an insurance policy.
Pittsburgh selected Landry Jones, another big, strong-armed quarterback, in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Roethlisberger has consistently defied expectations to this point, playing through injuries that would have kept his peers in street clothes. The question is, how quickly can he keep bouncing up?
The knee procedure he had yesterday was minor, but only adds to those concerns.