Is Ben Roethlisberger's Clock Ticking? Concussions Could Cut QB's Career Short

Jack StentwillerContributor INovember 25, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rests on the bench after an injury against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Heinz Field on September 25, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Patriots won 23-20.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger is quickly becoming an elite quarterback in the NFL. While his early career success was much more the result of a great team around him, there is no doubt that in 2009, Ben is great and carrying his team.

The good news? Ben is a go this Sunday versus the Ravens. The bad? He was questionable because he suffered his fourth concussion in his brief five-and-a-half year career.

Concussions and quarterbacks are a scary combination. Let's take a look at Troy Aikman as a case study. Ten concussions in 12 seasons cut a Hall of Fame career short. Many of those concussions happened in Aikman's last couple of seasons.

Roethlisberger's first four concussions seem to have been frontloaded. He is only five-and-a-half year's into his career and concussions come much easier the more you have.

With all of the publicity surrounding ex NFL'ers and the long-term effects and damages from head injuries, how many more concussions could Ben take before he starts to seriously consider early retirement?

This would be a sad development because Ben has just started to reach his potential and like Aikman, has a couple of Super Bowls under his belt early.

That being said, it would not be as sad as brain damage later in life because you didn't think beyond the short term of NFL stardom. I have no idea what Ben is thinking, but it almost seems impossible that these types of thoughts have not crept into his head before.

For now, it's Sunday and it's Baltimore. Ben is in and the Steelers are excited.

Both the fans and the organization however, might need to think about life when Big Ben cannot be wound back up;it may be sooner than anyone would have imagined.