Ben Roethlisberger: Unconventional Greatness

Kwame Fisher-JonesContributor IIIJanuary 7, 2012

Toughness is very rarely celebrated and too often it is not appreciated until after it has been displayed. This is the only reason Big Ben has flown so far under the radar that his knees are scraping the ground.

In just seven seasons, Roethlisberger has won one Super Bowl and been the starting quarterback for another Super Bowl-winning Steelers team. Yet, his love is lost somewhere between “I do not like him” and “who else you got?”.

Football and baseball are the only sports where statistics can be used to validate what one sees on the field or diamond. While most sports can lean on the “it’s a team effort” philosophy, football’s best will shine individually when given the opportunity.

LaDainian Tomlinson had one of the best individual seasons in NFL history when he rushed for 1,645 yards and caught 100 balls in 2003, but his team finished 4-12. So his efforts were for not, but his greatness was ever present.

An offensive line can impede a quarterback and running back, but they will not stop them from being great. In addition, poor wide receivers can drop passes but they will not stop a quarterback from being great.  

Great players will be great regardless of the circumstances and will somehow, someway raise their game when needed most. This is what Roethlisberger has done time and time again, to little or no applause. Big Ben, more than any other quarterback, epitomizes the phrase “local celebrity” and
that is a travesty. 



The forgotten quarterback seems to always be taken for granted as if his improvised play-making ability were infrequent. So many quarterbacks are called great because of singular plays instead of multiple games. B-Roth is the antithesis of this mindless thought process. Unlike his more celebrated brethren, the unconventional leader takes control at the most out-of-control moments.

Roethlisberger wins by any means necessary. First, it is stopping a sure touchdown off a fumble return in Indianapolis. Then it's throwing a perfect pass to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII. One cannot forget beating the rival Cleveland Browns on a cold, January afternoon for no other reason than
just because. To make it plain: the quarterback gets it done.

His record as a starter is definitive. No.7 has started 126 contests and walked off the field victorious in 90 of them.

What makes the Steelers quarterback’s achievements so impressive are the lack of weapons he goes into battle with. There are no Wes Welker on the Steelers roster. Absent in the Steelers offense is the game breaking abilities of a Ray Rice, yet somehow, someway the man never flinches. While Manning has Reggie Wayne and Brady has Welker riding with tight end Rob Gronkowski. Or Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers with tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, each
great QB has a talented player to match.

Those quarterbacks all have Pro-Bowl caliber or attending Pro Bowl talent, meanwhile Big Ben has Mike Wallace and a geriatric Hines Ward.



This again is a testament to just how unbelievably driven the quarterback truly is. No.7 has amassed a Hall-of-Fame resume without being surrounded by Hall-of-Fame talent. Those fourth quarter comebacks that he has made look so mundane are achieved despite the talent around him, NOT because of it.

Since Big Ben’s arrival in Pittsburgh, he has played with three Pro Bowl players at the skill positions; wide receiver Hines Ward (2x), running back Willie Parker (2x), and tight end Heath Miller (1x). Now those three are good players, but none would be considered game-changers. Yet, it is with these players that B-Roth shines.

The Steeler great continues to have platinum success with white gold players. The lack of big time talent has adversely effected his position among today’s greats only from a numbers perspective. Players like Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassell, and
DallasTony Romo have all put up gaudier numbers.

However, they all come up short in playoff success. The game, not the numbers, is where Roethlisberger distances himself from these players and other players alike.

The 2009 season was the only year Big Ben crossed the 4,000 yard passing mark. This, combined with a perception that the Steelers are a “grind over glory” offense has hampered the national acclaim the quarterback deserves. 4,000 yard passing seasons have become the norm for the NFL, so the fact that B-Roth only has one mystifies many and keeps his name omitted when discussing today’s best by some.

However, numbers do not validate No.7’s career; victories do. As the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl, Roethlisberger still precedes as if he has never held the ultimate prize.



His reckless and school yard plays are a marvel to watch and unfathomable to comprehend. The world loves what they know, fears what they cannot understand, and detests what they cannot conquer. This is why we are bombarded with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and most recently Aaron Rodgers lovefests.

They are what quarterbacks are supposed to resemble. They are clean, fiery competitors who fit the mold we have become accustomed to applauding. They are wine and Triscuits, while B-Roth is beer and stale pretzels.

No.7 is grimy and gritty, almost sloppy in appearance. Big Ben wins off uncompromising determination, not picture perfect deep balls. 

The Steeler is the forgotten superhero. He takes on his adversaries without the powers/players of many of his counterparts and reigns supreme time and time again. Roethlisberger plays like a modern day Batman, voided of any super powers and only equipped with the will and desires to be victorious. He has proven when needed there is no villain too difficult to slay.

As the second season commences we all should pay close attention to Pittsburgh’s unquestioned leader. For the playoffs are when the Bat signal is flashed in Steel City and the working man’s hero appears.