Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury could be worse for Steelers than we thought

A recent report suggests that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may have had Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow. Here’s why that’s bad news.

The 2019 season was a nightmare for Steelers fans. After boasting one of the best offenses over the past five years, Pittsburgh put up one dud performance after another with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges leading the helm.

Though Pittsburgh’s defense was one of the best in the business, it couldn’t match the sickening offensive woes the Steelers dealt with last season, as a result, Mike Tomlin’s team lost three straight games to close the season – scoring 10 points in each performance and falling short of the playoffs.

For Steelers fans, however, hope was not lost for good. With a promising defensive unit headlined by three All-Pro players, the thought of adding Ben Roethlisberger back to this team in 2020 immediately gave us playoff aspirations. However, we may want to start pumping the brakes on that.

Much was unclear about the extent of Roethlisberger’s injury or the road to recovery in front of him. Unfortunately, a recent statement from general manager Kevin Colbert wasn’t exactly reassuring. Here’s what he had to say, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:

Though Colbert wouldn’t say one way or another if Roethlisberger indeed had Tommy John surgery, his reaction was concerning at best. Tommy John surgery is something we often see in professional baseball players, but rarely in NFL circles.

Baseball players who undergo Tommy John surgery often miss an average of 12-18 months. While the numbers may be shorter for football players, the examples are few and far between.

Jake Delhomme was on the most recent quarterbacks to suffer this injury all the way back in 2007. Before the elbow injury, he threw for 8 touchdowns and 1 interception in just three games at 32 years old. Delhomme missed the next 13 games in 2007 and wasn’t ready to go until the start of the following season.

In 2008, Delhomme played in every game, but there was a dramatic drop in statistical production. Delhomme’s completion percentage dropped down to 59.4 percent, and he threw just 15 touchdowns in 16 games (0.93 per game) to go with his 12 interceptions.

Before Delhomme’s Tommy John surgery, he threw for 100 touchdowns and 64 interceptions. However, post-surgery, the veteran quarterback threw for  26 touchdowns and 37 interceptions in 31 starts.

If Roethlisberger did indeed have Tommy John surgery, this could be devastating for his chances of making a full recovery by the start of the 2020 season, and it’s something that could permanently impact his throwing velocity.

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Again, Colbert didn’t indicate one way or another in his remarks, but I truly hope he is not hiding something about Ben’s injury. If Roethlisberger did have Tommy John surgery, he could still have a long road to recovery and it could really have an impact on his success in 2020 and beyond.

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