Maurkice Pouncey retirement: Ben Roethlisberger calls nine-time Pro Bowl center ‘greatest teammate’

Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey’s emotional moment after the end of the Steelers‘ 2020 season was the first sign of what was to come during the offseason. Pouncey, after a month of speculation, made his retirement official on Friday at the age of 31. The nine-time Pro Bowler decided to leave the game with his twin brother, former Dolphins and Chargers center Mike Pouncey

Maurkice Pouncey was one of the most popular and respected players within the Steelers’ locker room. He had an especially tight bond with Roethlisberger, who tried in vain in 2020 to get Pouncey that elusive Super Bowl ring. While he ultimately fell short of that goal, Roethlisberger showered Pouncey with praise shortly after news broke of his retirement. 

“I hate to say he’s the greatest teammate and competitor I’ve ever been around, but at the end of the day that’s what it is – he’s the greatest teammate and competitor I’ve been around,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Gerry Dulac. “And that’s no slight to anybody else.”

Roethlisberger’s Twitter handle also posted the following message shortly after Pouncey made his retirement official. 

Roethlisberger has had many celebrated teammates over the course of his time in Pittsburgh. Safety Troy Polamalu, selected a year before Roethlisberger in the 2003 draft, was part of the Hall of Fame’s 2020 induction class. Offensive lineman Alan Faneca, who spent four seasons as Roethlisberger’s teammate, will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, this summer. Tight end Heath Miller, who retired at the end of the 2015 season, shared a unique bond with Roethlisberger; Roethlisberger admitted to shedding some tears after Miller informed him of his retirement. Other notable teammates Roethlisberger has played with in Pittsburgh include Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Joey Porter, and James Harrison, among others. 

Despite his assortment of talented teammates, Roethlisberger puts Pouncey at the top of his list. Why? Along with his leadership and community service, Pouncey showed considerable fortitude after suffering three significant injuries during his career. Injuries led to Pouncey missing Super Bowl XLV, most of the 2013 season and all of the 2015 season. Despite those setbacks, Pouncey was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his nine healthy seasons. He was also a two-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL‘s 2010s All-Decade team. Pouncey’s play contributed to the Steelers winning one AFC title, five division titles and clinching seven postseason berths during his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh. 

“I want to congratulate Maurkice on his retirement,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “He has been a leader in our locker room for over a decade and I respect him so much for all he accomplished during his career. He has done so much for his teammates and the entire organization, and I wish him all the best to he and his family in which I know he will continue to be successful in every aspect of life.” 

Speaking of Roethlisberger, the soon-to-be 39-year-old is expected to discuss his future with the Steelers sometime soon. If he comes back for the 2021 season, Roethlisberger will take snaps from a new center for the first time in over a decade. He will also have several new teammates on the offensive side of the ball, as the Steelers are expected to lose several starters that include receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner

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