Super Bowl 2011: Would Another Title Make Ben Roethlisberger a Lock for Canton?
This year's Super Bowl matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers is going to be a test of worth for both Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, as is usually the case when it comes to Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Of course, this is a test that Big Ben has already passed twice. And if he passes it for a third time, he will be in some pretty rare company.
As such, you would think that a third Super Bowl victory would make Roethlisberger a lock for the Hall of Fame when the book closes on his career. But because of his highly-publicized issues away from the field of play, there are plenty of NFL fans and pundits across the country who are not very big fans of Big Ben, and would rather not see him make it to Canton.
So we thought we'd put the debate in print. With a bit of luck, we can determine once and for all whether or not a third ring would make Big Ben a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. No: He's Not All That Great
"He's not all that great."
These are the exact words that a knowledgeable football fan and good friend of mine uttered when I told him I was working on this piece.
And you know what, I actually did not immediately object. This is because I actually think it's kind of true.
We'll get into the stats in a moment, but for now, it suffices to say that as solid as Roethlisberger has been to this point in his career, he does not have a reputation of being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL (i.e. Peyton Manning or Tom Brady).
And if you think reputation doesn't count when it comes to things like Hall of Fame voting, you had best think again.
5. Yes: This Steelers Dynasty Needs a Representative
Whether or not the Steelers beat the Packers tomorrow, I think it's safe to call them a dynasty. After all, three Super Bowl appearances in six years is pretty impressive, and there's really no indication that the current team can't go again next year or the year after that with their current roster and coaching staff.
Along with Troy Polamalu, the one constant through the last six years has been Big Ben (James Harrison was pretty much a non-factor in 2005). And we may as well face facts: history loves quarterbacks more than any other players.
As such, somebody has to be the figurehead for these Steelers, and Big Ben is as good a choice as anybody.
Nevertheless, just as "He's not all that great" represents the weakest argument against Big Ben's Hall of Fame candidacy, saying he needs to get in because he's the best representative of the current Steelers dynasty constitutes the lamest argument for Big Ben's Hall of Fame candidacy.
4. No: Statistical Ordinariness
Barring some kind of major injury, which is unfortunately always a possibility when it comes to the NFL, Big Ben still has plenty of football ahead of him.
However, as good as Roethlisberger's career has been to this point, the numbers say he's hardly been brilliant.
In seven seasons, Big Ben has racked up 22,502 passing yards, 144 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. Add it all up, and you get a career QB rating of 92.5.
Compare this with somebody like, say, Peyton Manning, and you see just how ordinary Big Ben really is. In his first seven seasons, Manning passed for 29,442 yards and 216 touchdowns—and also happened to set the then-record for touchdown passes in a single season with 49 in 2004.
An unfair comparison perhaps, but you get the idea. As good as Roethlisberger is, he's probably not going to feature prominently in the record books at the end of his career.
4. Yes: Stats Are Overrated
On balance, the statistical brilliance argument is pretty silly. And in fact, you really only see it used in support of a given player—not in condemnation.
Case in point: Dan Marino. Marino was one of the great quarterbacks of his day, but he of course never won a Super Bowl. He got into the Hall on numbers alone.
Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, on the other hand, did not boast great stats. Bradshaw's career quarterback rating sits at 70.9, Montana's at 92.3. But combined, they have eight rings.
In the end, that's the only number that really matters.
3. No: Off-the-Field Issues
Indeed, I think we're all quite well aware of Big Ben's assorted shenanigans away from the gridiron.
The first of these was his infamous motorcycle accident a few months after the Steelers' victory over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. He wasn't wearing a helmet and paid the consequences. It also turned out that he was riding his motorcycle without a valid license.
But the thing that everyone holds against him are the sexual assault allegations this past offseason. No charges were ever filed, and I'm not going to bother recapping the whole thing from start to finish, but they netted Big Ben a six-game suspension (later reduced to four) and remain the ire of football fans across the land.
Not unlike Michael Vick, the general sense seems to be that there are a lot of people out there who will never forgive him.
3. Yes: Lawrence Taylor
I almost feel like it would be enough to simply write "Lawrence Taylor" on this slide, but I suppose I may as well explain myself anyway.
Two wrongs obviously don't make a right, but Roethlisberger's off-the-field issues pale in comparison to LT's. And last I checked, there's no movement for LT being kicked out of the Hall of Fame following his latest run-in with the law, which has him serving six years probation for having sex with a minor.
Put simply, nobody ever said that you have to be a good guy to be let into the Hall of Fame, and Big Ben will always have a case for the Hall as long as LT is enshrined at Canton.
2. No: Mediocre Super Bowl Performances
At this point, it's probably fair to say that Roethlisberger's Hall of Fame case is pretty much limited to his Super Bowl appearances. And to this point, despite the fact the Steelers managed to win both of them, Big Ben really wasn't all that great in either of them.
In his first Super Bowl appearance against the Seahawks, Big Ben completed just nine of 21 passes for 123 yards, with no touchdowns and two picks. Moreover, his one and only bright spot in that game was a controversial touchdown run.
Two years ago against the Cardinals, Big Ben really wasn't much better. He completed 21-of -30 passes for 256 yards, with one touchdown and one pick. Once again, the Steelers won, but it was largely a team effort.
2. Yes: Legendary Moments
Once again, stats don't tell the whole story, especially when it comes to Big Ben's role in the Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals.
Indeed, nothing in a box score is going to be able to describe how utterly brilliant his game-winning pass to Santonio Holmes really was. Holmes gets all the credit, of course, but the fact that Big Ben threaded the ball through three defenders is pretty darn impressive.
We're already looking at this play as one of the great moments in Super Bowl history, and its legend is bound to grow even more with time.
Shoot, if you were to ask me, I think it's already much more impressive than The Catch.
1. No: He Had a Lot of Help
Much like Bradshaw back in the 70s, Roethlisberger has had the privilege of playing on a Steelers team with a defense and a running game that are consistently pretty great.
These two components definitely came up big in Big Ben's two Super Bowl victories. Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL still stands as the longest run from scrimmage in Super Bowl history, and James Harrison's 100-yard interception return in Super Bowl XLIII is the longest play in Super Bowl history.
So I suppose that as much as you want to talk about legendary moments, it's not like Big Ben single-handedly willed the Steelers to victory in either of his two Super Bowls.
1. Yes: Elite Company
You can hate on Big Ben all you want.
But if he leads the Steelers to victory over the Packers tomorrow, he will have gone where only four men have gone before.
The only quarterbacks to win three or more Super Bowls are Bradshaw, Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady. The first three are already in the Hall of Fame, and Brady will be when all is said and done.
As such, it suffices to say that keeping Big Ben and his (at least) three rings out of Canton is not only ridiculous, but entirely unlikely altogether.
Conclusion: Will a Third Ring Make Big Ben a Lock for Canton?
If the Steelers lose tomorrow, and Big Ben never plays in another Super Bowl, I think you could definitely make the case that he's not a Hall of Famer.
But if they win, and Big Ben gets a third ring, I honestly don't see how they could keep him out.
In other words, the answer's yes.