Underrated and Unappreciated

“If Ben Roethlisberger’s last name was Manning; if he was majestic throwing the ball like Aaron Rodgers when he broke the pocket and had pretty boy looks like Tom Brady, he’d be recognized by all as a Top 5 quarterback in the NFL every season.”

Courtesy: zimbio.com

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski has been counting down his list of the top 32 quarterbacks in the league headed into the 2013 season and when he hit #7; ironically or not, it was Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I disagree that there are four other QB’s better than the two-time Super Bowl Champion. Recently Roethlisberger said he wants to win more Super Bowl titles than former Steelers great Terry Bradshaw who has 4; Big Ben currently has 2 out of 3. With the way he is dismissed in the conversation of top NFL QB’s, winning 5 or even just one more is what it will take for him to gain his just do.

Courtesy: nflpassers.com

I have a theory on why #7 is so underrated and unappreciated. First, his game isn’t that attractive. He’s clunky in the pocket and often makes plays for his team after the designed play breaks down. These improvisations more often than not turn into big plays for the Steelers; the “quarterback purists” don’t like it because his style is sandlot and they don’t like that. Hardly do they ever give him credit for being athletic and agile because he doesn’t it do it like Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin the III, but it is his athleticism that allows him to play at such a high level every season and take the beating he does in the pocket when he decides to hold ball instead of throwing an interception.

Second, his off the field issues. There was the motorcycle accident after Super Bowl XL that almost cost him his life and career; there were the alleged sexual assault incidents in Georgia and Nevada that almost cost him a life of freedom and his career. I believe many don’t want to move pass that, even though he was never charged. In a way it is like Ray Lewis; till this day people still bring up his obstruction of justice charge from after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta in 2000; even though he has gone on to prove he’s a changed man who has used his past to help others. Ironically both Lewis and Roethlisberger led their teams to the Super Bowl the season following their legal issues, however the Steelers lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Third. The national media never gives #7 his due for leading the Steelers to Super Bowl XL. They only want to talk about how poorly he played – lowest QB rating of any Super Bowl winning quarterback – and that the Steelers won in spite of him. They over look his stats during that run to the championship; 3 touchdowns on 208 yards passing with a 148.7 QB rating against the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild card game. The next week he threw for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns against a ring-less Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional round, plus a game saving tackle after Jerome Bettis fumbled going in for a game-clinching touchdown.

Courtesy: Pittsburgh Post Gazette; Immaculate Tackle

His best game of the playoffs came in the AFC Championship where he threw 2 touchdowns with 275 yards passing and a 124.9 QB rating against the Denver Broncos to get the Burgh to the Super Bowl. So without his superb performances, they wouldn’t have been in position to win a championship, in spite of him. By the way all those games were on the road in his second season as a pro.

Roethlisberger has won 69% of the games he’s started in his 9-year career including the playoffs. By comparison, Eli Manning who many rank above him has won only 58% of his games in the same time period Eli. Roethlisberger’s career Quarterback rating is of 92.7, higher than Eli Manning’s 82.7.

If you want to throw little brother Eli’s Super Bowl MVP’s in my face, Roethlisberger could and should have at least won co-MVP with Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII. It was his Elway-Montana impersonation on the final drive that saved the Steelers from the biggest upset in Super Bowl history against the Arizona Cardinals.

Roethlisberger deserves more respect as a top elite quarterback. After 9 seasons he has thrown for 29,844 yards good for 7th among active QB’s and 191 touchdowns, 6th amongst active QB’s. He has 29 career game winning drives, good for 4th among active quarterbacks and 14th all-time. Roethlisberger should always be in the top 5 at least. The only QB’s I’d rank ahead of him are Brady, Manning and Drew Brees. Brady for rings, Manning for overall stats and Brees for his pure passing ability. That’s it!

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