Make no mistake, as the Pittsburgh Steelers pray for his recovery, the lurking season is on the minds of everyone. It has to be. The health of the most indispensable player on the Super Bowl champions immediately affects the power structure of the 2006 NFL season.
Before Roethlisberger’s horrific accident Monday morning, a major theme of the NFL season was going to be injuries to quarterbacks of teams near top of the league’s food chain, especially in the AFC, the stronger of the two conferences.
Carson Palmer’s availability for the Bengals — one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL — is in question for much of the season due to a serious knee injury he suffered in the playoffs in January. The Chargers are perhaps the most talented team in the NFL, but Philip Rivers will be the starter for the first time after team brass decided to go with him over the successful Drew Brees, also coming off an injury, for the 2006 season. The Dolphins are banking on newly acquired Daunte Culpepper coming back from three serious knee injuries suffered last November while with Minnesota.
Ironically, days before Roethlisberger’s misfortune, Culpepper was running the Dolphins offense in a minicamp and looked way ahead of schedule. Thus, while the up-and-coming Dolphins might be set at quarterback, the Steelers suddenly may be in limbo at the most important position on the field.
And we all know what Roethlisberger means to the Steelers: With him, they are legitimate contender to repeat as Super Bowl champion. Without him, they are run of the mill.
Still, this is a not a “go to the emergency room, receive treatment and be on your way” incident. A witness to the accident, who saw Big Ben fly through the air, thought he was dead when she ran up to him.
At this point, we don’t know the 2006 playing prognosis for Roethlisberger, who at age 23 became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl in February.
But be sure of this: These are serious injuries Roethlisberger is going to have to recover from. With training camp looming in six weeks, it probably will impact his ability to be ready — or at least in top shape — for at least some of this season.
Once cleared to resume physical activity, the quarterback will have to regain his strength. This will take time, even if the prognosis is a best-case scenario.
The Steelers’ season could very well be impacted. Thus, the NFL season could very well be impacted.
Can the Steelers be considered a serious Super Bowl contender? Not with their heart in the hospital, they can’t. Yes, Big Ben probably will come back and resume that Hall of Fame path. But what will this all mean to 2006 in the AFC?
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Suddenly, add the Steelers to the list contender with a question mark at quarterback. Big Ben, the NFL world is praying for you. But, it is watching and wondering what it means for the landscape of the league.
CSN: Chip Kelly says he'll adapt his offense to fit the NFL, but analyst Ron Jaworski isn't sold.
Roethlisberger hurt in motorcycle crash
June 13: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in serious but stable condition after breaking his jaw and nose in a motorcycle crash. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.
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