Steelers Big Wheel Ben Roethlisberger

30 Jul

He’s been living smaller down in Mississippi for the past few years.

No longer commanding troops on Battlefield NFL, Brett Favre hung up his cleats for the last time after sprinting off the Vikings (Golden Gopher TCF Bank Stadium) field for the last time, December 20, 2010, after losing to intra-division rival Chicago, 40-14, and now lets his hair grow, opinionates every now & then and took up mentoring (HS coach).

But his spirit, kindred variety, lives on in the person of Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers All Pro, 2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback who in 2014 is set to begin his 11th NFL campaign, all in the steel city.

Kindred spirit aside, Ben won’t be setting any iron-man records like the Mississippi gun-slinger, having missed, on average, two contests each of his previous nine campaigns.

Physically, “Big Ben” is taller (6’5”) and near 20 lbs heavier than 6’2” Brett, though, Favre may be closing the gap on the latter number whilst he enjoys ‘the good life.’

Somewhat surprising to this football fan was that the 10-year tallies of both men balance out pretty close at the same points in their respective NFL journeys:

Roethlisberger           Favre
TDs:         219                       287
INTs:       122                       170
Yards:   43,105              38,627
Cmp%:    63.3                     60.9
Record: (RS):  95-47     103-54
Super Bowls:  3 (2)           2 (1)

And then there are the off-field troubles. They can color a career.

Roethlisberger and Favre are free spirits, part of what makes (made) them the favored risk-takers on the field. Sometimes they’ve gotten too spirited.

Favre went through rehabilitation in the mid-90s for a drug addiction (Vicodin) and in 2010 was fined by the NFL for impeding an investigation into allegations he’d sent offensive text-messages to Jets’ employee Jenn Sterger when he was rostered in NYC.

On Roethlisberger’s debit-ledger there’s an unlicensed motorcycle accident (‘06) and two sexual assault allegations (‘08 and ‘10) where no formal charges were filed but the 2d incident did result in a 4-game suspension to start Steelers’ 2010 season (Wikipedia).

What binds the legacies of these two decorated field generals is the immeasurable but distinctive manner in which both can / could marshal their troops onward to victory.


When these guys take to the gridiron the energy is palpable and the voltage high.

From the get-go you’ll take notice of their command & control of game-plan and then ensconce yourself in the comfy – cozy realization that winning with these guys is always a real possibility. The proof: 5 Super Bowls between ‘em and a bushel of playoff produce.

Well, almost “always.”

Of late, that “well” of winning (SBs: ‘06, 09 & 11) has been running dry in Pittsburgh.

Since 2012, Steelers have only managed to eke out consecutive 8-8, non-playoff records and, frankly, seem lucky to have even broken even. At times it got so bad it must’ve felt like, “clowns to left of me, jokers to the right,” i.e., Tomlin’s T-day flub (Stealers Wheel).

Weird-ish swings in franchise momentum aren’t unique to Southwest Pennsylvania.

New York’s Giants have been testing the patience of their fan-base since taking home two Lombardis (‘08 & ‘12) during the same Tomlin – Roethlisberger – Polamalu period.

Sometimes a club gets a bit spoiled by success, like that kid who tires of the game, runs home with his prized football and refuses to come out and play for days. Maybe not the best analogy but you get the idea. Disinterest. In Steelers’ case, ownership variety.

Of course, there are the Dallas Cowboys who have gone way beyond “spoiled” and have completely forgotten what “success” is, unless you consider their new stadium and its favored venue status a “success.” That’s great for Jerry Jones’ bank account but doesn’t amount to a hill a’ beans for faithful fandom of the Dallas Group.

But other high achievers, like New England and Green Bay, refuse to rest on their laurels and continue to pile up Ws like it’s their duty, though the Pack, excepting a few stalwarts like Hawk and Burnett, figure to keep on truckin’ without their former trademark defense. Good luck with that, Mike & Ted.

With guys like Brady and Rodgers under center, meeting “duty” was never so enjoyable.

And that’s just what a great quarterback does. He makes watching his team a joy.

It means each season, every game is hopeful. And in the end, that’s all any fan can ask for each Sunday: hope.

As he has for 10 years, Ben Roethlisberger will give Steelers fans plenty of hope in 2014.

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo Credits: B.Roethlisberger / 9.9.12 / J.Beall / wc.cca / 3.9m; Roethlisberger – Ward – Obama – Rooney / 5.21.9 / EOoTP / wc.cca / 62k

Edit: 7/30 @ 3:19pm; 7/31 @ 3:07


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