Not every team that wins the Super Bowl is the best team of the season. By the same token (but to a stronger degree), the quarterback who wins the Super Bowl is very rarely the best at his position.
Yet often times we'd like to tend to think that way.
If we're not willing to proclaim a guy like Ben Roethlisberger as "the greatest" in the NFL, we are certainly more than willing to put him right up there.
After all, winning two Super Bowls in his first five season is a heck of an accomplishment.
But before you get your guns ready to fire, first understand that the following article is not intended to "bash" or "insult" Ben Roethlisberger or any other quarterback discussed in the article.
The issue however is the perception we've created for these Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and how exactly that has come to pass.
Ben Roethlisberger is the perfect example and I want to apologize to the Steeler Nation in advance because I'm not looking to land a low blow on your hero.
Last season, Big Ben played at a level that could easily be considered average, if not mediocre. His production tells the following...
Ben Roethlisberger (2008): 281 of 469 (59.9 percent) for 3,301 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. 80.1 quarterback rating.
That is what Ben Roethlisberger contributed to the Steelers' chances of winning in 2008.
People talk about poor offensive line protection due to the fact that Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times.
That is not to say that his protection was perfect, but if you watch the games you'll notice that many of those sacks accrued from Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long which is very different from not having time to throw in the pocket.
Being sacked 46 times is a lot for one season, but people tend to forget that Roethlisberger was sacked 47 times the season before but still managed to perform at a much higher level.
Ben Roethlisberger (2007): 264 of 404 (65.3 percent) for 3,154 yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 104.1 quarterback rating.
Now that is the performance of a quarterback the caliber of what many are proclaiming Roethlisberger to be last season.
Why, because he won the Super Bowl in 2008 but didn't win a playoff game in 2007?
Bottom line is that Ben played magnificently in 2007 and got too little credit for it, but played far worse in 2008 and got too much credit for it.
The main reason of course being team success.
We love to shower our Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (especially multiple-time champions) with a plethora of praise and glory. Sometimes it's warranted and other times it's blinded glorification.
How so you might wonder?
Teams don't win multiple championships without being dominant.
Which is true, but that doesn't mean that the leader of the team (the quarterback) was as dominant as the rest of his team. After all, entire teams are what win championships.
There have often been players who have been the best at their position who haven't been fortunate enough to receive the backup necessary to attain football's greatest prize (Dan Marino and Barry Sanders come to mind).
Yet while we glorify Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, I don't see other positions getting the same treatment.
The reason for that being the value we place upon the quarterback position.
It is the most important position in football and because of that, people expect absolute greats like Dan Marino to be able to overcome playing with poor defenses and no running game.
How often do you hear people say that it really must have helped Joe Montana and Tom Brady to have played with top-tier defenses?
Keep in mind that those top-tier defenses accounted for 50% of those quarterbacks' chances of success but you rarely hear their contributions mentioned in perspective with the backup they received from the rest of the team.
But if you were talking about a guy like Dan Marino, how many people have you heard say that "if he was so great, why didn't he win the big one?".
How on earth could you throw away the impact that playing with the defensive squads the Dolphins built must have had?
It might be discussed from time to time but a great many people view such logic as excuses. If you were to say that Dan Marino would have won multiple Super Bowls with the 1980's 49ers defense, people dismiss that logic as worthless "what if" speculation.
While I'm fully aware of why guys like Dan Marino and Peyton Manning have taken heat for their lack of bringing Super Bowl rings home, it is just as important to focus on why quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have been glorified.
We'd all like to believe that the team who wins the Super Bowl was the best team in the league that year, but how often is that true?
Are you to tell me that the 2001 Patriots were better than the 2001 Rams (keeping in mind the Rams beat them at home earlier in the season) or that the 2007 Giants are better than the 2007 Patriots (keeping in mind that the Pats beat them at home earlier in the season as well)?
But the date on the calender takes on a greater value than the overall body of work.
A better example would be the 2008 Arizona Cardinals (whom I personally loved by the way).
Everyone remembers them as being NFC Champions and they are probably the NFC team you think about the most when you re-visit 2008.
But where they better than the 12-4 New York Giants team who beat both them and the Steelers?
But the Giants lost to the Eagles (whom they beat earlier in the season) and their impressive season will be remembered as little more than a great disappointment.
Meanwhile the Cardinals who won only nine games during the regular season and were circumcised by a team that didn't even qualify for the playoffs are remembered for a great season.
And I know why we glorify our Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and the answer is obvious.
When a team wins a championship, you would all like to think of them as the best the NFL has to offer. Besides, if we didn't than wouldn't we be undermining the value of the Super Bowl? And nobody would want to do that.
So with the over-emphasis we put on the value of the quarterback position, people want to believe that the leader of the team who won the Super Bowl has to also be among the best if not the very best himself.
If we didn't feel that way, wouldn't we be undermining the value of the quarterback position?
Nobody wants to believe that a very well-rounded team with a "good" quarterback is all it might take to win a championship. After all, that's not very exciting or dramatic.
People love heroics plain and simple.
Flashback to Super Bowl XXXVI and we all remember the excitement of seeing Tom Brady work in the clutch. We saw this young underdog lead his team into game winning field goal range and make his team's Cinderella story come true.
If you asked the average football fan how well Tom Brady performed in Super Bowl XXXVI, they'd probably say that the game's MVP performed at the high level needed to topple a heavy favorite like the Rams.
Tom Brady: 16 of 27 for 145 yards and one touchdown.
Really? That's all it took to conquer the "Greatest Show on Turf"?
Exactly, but the perception remains very different in the eyes of many people.
Tom Brady despite horrible pass protection played a better game against the Giants in Super Bowl XLII but all people remember is him getting sacked and not getting the job done when it mattered the most.
Heck, Tom Brady circa 2005-07 has performed at a higher level than Tom Brady circa 2001-04. Yet the latest version of Tom Brady has nothing to show for it and the older version couldn't stop winning.
People's inability to separate individual talent from team accomplishment is an issue that has plagued public opinion for a very long time. We are so swayed with the eventual outcome of a season that we tend to underrate greater performers and overrated less talented performers in the process.
It's not an issue that appears to be on the brink of being resolved because I don't think people want it that way. Better to leave things as they are because things are just far more simple that way.
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