Roethlisberger’s Knee Surgery: Should the Steelers Be Concerned?


Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked in the fourth quarter by Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) and Anthony Spencer (93) at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Steelers 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to clean up some cartilage that was causing him some discomfort according to the local CBS affiliate.   Roethlisberger is starting his 10th year in the league and has had some fairly significant injuries over the years.  Should the Steelers be concerned about this surgery?  Mike Tomlin’s statement posted on is very brief:

"Earlier today, Ben had minor surgery on his right knee that was the result of slight discomfort this offseason. We advised him to get the surgery done to ensure he will be completely healthy for the start of training camp. This surgery will have no long-term effects on his health.”"

According to Adam Schefter on ESPN, Roethlisberger had this same procedure on his left knee in 2005 and it seems to have worked well.

So, is there cause for concern?  Well, not specifically about this surgery.  For what seems like an unusual step for the Steelers, they are being proactive.  In the last few years, it seems like they took a “if it ain’t COMPLETELY broke, don’t fix it” position on many things (including the defense, but that’s for another post).  Now, they have assessed a condition that offseason rest did not fix and they took steps to correct it before training camp.

There have been a lot of high-profile player surgeries over the last month or so.  New England Patriot’s Tight End Rob Gronkowski had another arm surgery as well as back surgery and might not be ready for the start of the season.  Jason Pierre Paul, of the NY Giants, had surgery on a herniated disk.  Roethlisberger’s surgery has to be the least concerning because it was the least invasive.  Gronk’s situation has to have Belichick bouncing his head off the wall in New England (I am suppressing a giggle at the thought).  JPP’s surgery is the most puzzling because it seems like he should have had that diagnosed well before now.

Some would say that Roethlisberger’s issue would have been apparent at the end of last season and should have been taken care of then.  Perhaps.  I looked in the CBA and while I don’t see anything that prohibits players from seeking medical attention from the team’s doctors, it looks like the team cannot require the players to see them between the end of the season and the beginning of the the nine week offseason program.  Much like the physical conditioning, the players seem to be responsible for identifying medical problems and seeking medical attention.  The only other time might be during physicals required by contract negotiations.

Roethlisberger was pretty beat up by the end of last season and knee pain was probably the least of his symptoms.  It is likely he thought offseason rest would clear it up.  When it became apparent that there was still a problem, the Steelers acted to try to ensure he would be ready to go by the beginning of training camp.  Even if Roethlisberger isn’t 100% at the beginning of training camp, that won’t be the end of the world.  It would be much worse if this knee became so aggravated during the season that it affected Roethlisberger’s ability on the field.

I don’t think this knee surgery is cause for concern.  Personally, I’m glad the Steelers did not take a “wait and see” stance on it.  I can hope for an injury-free season for Roethlisberger; however, it’s unlikely based on the way he plays.  I think the Steelers have many other things to be concerned about, but this surgery isn’t one of them.  Roethlisberger is getting older and the offensive line is usually playing banged up by the second or third game.  Keeping Roethlisberger upright is a huge concern because monster hits only shorten his time in the league.  He’s proven to be durable compared to other QB’s, but for how long?  That’s the concern.