Roethlisberger retires after 18 seasons with Steelers

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement Thursday, capping his decorated career at 18 seasons.

The 39-year-old was widely expected to retire with his contract set to expire. He hinted late in the season he was ready to ride off into the sunset.

Roethlisberger spent his entire career in Pittsburgh, winning a pair of championships and earning six Pro Bowl selections. The Steelers never had a losing season during his tenure, and he collected the fifth-most passing yards in NFL history.

Pittsburgh selected Roethlisberger 11th overall in the 2004 draft, a class that also featured Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. The imposing signal-caller quickly endeared himself to Steelers fans by winning 13 of his first 14 starts after replacing Tommy Maddox.

In 2005, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to Super Bowl XL, his first of three appearances in the title game. Pittsburgh defeated the Seattle Seahawks, sending legendary running back Jerome Bettis into retirement with a long-awaited championship. Roethlisberger had saved the Steelers' season a few weeks earlier with a miraculous tackle following a Bettis fumble in the divisional round against the Indianapolis Colts.

Roethlisberger won his second title three years later, orchestrating a game-winning drive against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. He threw an iconic touchdown to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone in the final seconds.

He had the chance to win another Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLV but fell to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

At his peak, Roethlisberger was a proficient downfield passer whose massive frame made him one of the most challenging quarterbacks to tackle in NFL history. He evolved his game late in his career, resorting to a quick-pass approach to avoid the big hits he took early on.

Roethlisberger's career wasn't without controversy. In 2006, he broke his nose and jaw in a motorcycle crash and was criticized for not wearing a helmet. He settled a 2009 sexual assault lawsuit and was investigated - but not charged - for sexual assault in 2010. The NFL suspended him to begin the 2010 season.

Roethlisberger retires after 18 seasons with Steelers
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