Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thankful for Big Ben? Me too.

In an earlier post The Steelyard provided a sneak preview of the new Dan Rooney book, "My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL" (Da Capo), in which Rooney lets it slip that he intervened to make sure the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger with the 11th pick of the 2004 draft (instead of OT Shawn Andrews, who Bill Cowher apparently preferred). Thank goodness Rooney stepped in and backed Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert, who also championed Roethlisberger. This pivotal decision enabled the Steelers to win a Super Bowl, and may well afford the organization the opportunity to win more Super Bowls in the next six or eight years.

Interestingly, it seems like many Steelers' fans underestimate the value of Big Ben. It's hard to fathom how fans can criticize him and say things like, "Big Ben makes me crazy sometimes" or "He makes too many mistakes." Have these fans lost their minds? Or have they simply become spoiled? I'll go on record right now and say that Roethlisberger is already the best QB in franchise history. In this era he may never win four Super Bowls like Terry Bradshaw did but that doesn't change the fact that he has been better ... sooner ... than just about any QB in NFL history. His career record is 39-14 (which rivals the winning percentage of Tom Brady) and if one eliminates the 2006 (accident-appendectomy-concussion) season he's lost a grand total of only six starts (32-6). His career yards per attempt is among the best in NFL history and his post-season record is 5-1. Like every NFL QB he throws interceptions from time to time, but what goes unmentioned is that he fumbles the ball much less often than other QB's. And, as columnist Stan Savran explains in "Thankful for Big Ben", he makes the talent around him look better than it really is.

I think the Steelers have to be concerned that his career may be relatively short, thanks to the cumulative effect of the injuries he has suffered. But let's make no mistake: Big Ben is on course for the Hall of Fame, even if he can't get elected to a Pro Bowl.

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