3 Former Star Quarterbacks Rank The Class Of 2004

Timothy KesslerAnalyst IJune 24, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Three quarterbacks were selected in the 2004 NFL draft.

The Giants took Eli Manning. The Chargers then took Phillip Rivers. And finally the Pittsburgh Steelers took Ben Roethlisberger as the third overall quarterback taken.

These three men will forever be judged against one another and compared. There have been plenty of articles written on this site doing just that.

Many people already know where I stand on this issue, and how I feel leadership qualities and intangibles are every bit as important as stats and figures when judging quarterbacks.

I have also stated several times that if another NFL player would be asked to rank these quarterbacks, that I felt they too would include those qualities in their judgement.

I also felt that they would include results in their factoring, as far as the playoffs and Superbowls go. After reading a recent article in Sporting News magazine, I was not disappointed.

I was correct in saying that most players would agree with my take on the best way to judge quarterbacks, as you will see for yourself in these former players responses.

These were not just any players either. These are former quarterbacks. Two of which are in the Hall of Fame and one being a past league MVP.

Who better to judge NFL quarterbacks than other NFL quarterbacks? They were all three asked to rank the three quarterbacks taken in the 2004 NFL draft.

Without any further adieu, let us begin.

I will begin with Dan Fouts, who was chosen for six Pro Bowls and is in the Hall of Fame.

Dan Fouts

#1- Ben Roethlisberger #2- Eli Manning #3- Phillip Rivers

Fouts says..."You have to go by Super Bowls: Roethlisberger has two, Manning has one, and Phillip has none."

Now lets move on to Warren Moon, chosen for nine Pro Bowls and is also in the Hall of Fame.

Warren Moon

#1- Rivers #2- Roethlisberger #3- Manning

Moon says..."Roethlisberger is the best play maker of the three but I'd go with Rivers cause he is the purest passer."

Last but definitely not least, let us hear what Rich Gannon had to say. Rich was chosen for four Pro Bowls and was the 2002 NFL league MVP.

Rich Gannon

#1 Roethlisberger #2 Manning #3 Rivers

Gannon says..."Two Super Bowl wins, a great competitor, very strong, good feet, difficult to sack- I've got to go with Roethlisberger."

So, after seeing these guy's rankings and hearing what they had to say, I was right in my assumption that NFL players themselves would also consider results and winning Superbowl's as important in determining a quarterbacks greatness.

In fact, the three former quarterbacks never once mentioned the stats of any of the players in question. That tells me a whole lot. And while a lot of people would disagree on the value of statistics, these former players apparently DO NOT.

Just as I have said in the past, I am certain Dan Marino would trade any of his records or stats in for a Superbowl ring.

Two of the three former star quarterbacks ranked Roethlisberger as better than Manning and Rivers. While the third said he was the best play maker of the three. That is great praise coming from even greater sources.

Not too bad for Roethlisberger, as I feel that being former quarterbacks themselves makes them a lot more qualified at evaluating and judging these current stars, than the people on this site.

It makes me wonder how some people have the audacity to even suggest that Ben is somehow a bad quarterback being carried by his team. He most certainly is not. His peers acknowledge that, and that is the most important praise any player can receive.

It was also nice to see that these former star quarterbacks found intangibles and results to be the most important determining factors. They realize there is a lot more to the position than simply numbers and stats. They were there themselves and know what matters the most.

I will stick with the people who know what they are talking about from personal experience.

Football is the ultimate team sport where individual numbers do not mean a whole lot when considering a players worth to his team. There is so much more to it than that.

Call me a "homer" all you want but Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He is elite because he exhibits leadership, drive and determination, and mostly heart and desire. He raises the bar for every player on his team, offense and defense.

Again, it is nice to know that Hall of Fame quarterbacks and league MVPs also agree.