Ben Roethlisberger entered the NFL in one of the most dynamic rookie seasons in sports history. In seven years with the Steelers, he's put fingerprints on three Lamar Hunt Trophies and won two Super Bowls.
Yet, to hear much of the public perception about "Big Ben," you'd think that his career would be labelled as "Big Bust." Clearly, that notion is ridiculous.
Make no mistake, though. Roethlisberger's talent and elite NFL quarterback status are overlooked by many. Sadly, this bad judgment is not limited to the fans.
On "The NFL's Top 100 Players of 2011," his NFL peers rated Roethlisberger #41 in a countdown of the best players in the league. His numerical ranking is not the issue. It's his placement relative to less accomplished signal-callers that raises curious eyebrows. This was just another event in a history of underrating a great quarterback.
Beyond Brady, Brees, Manning, and Rodgers, nobody eclipses Ben. Yet, with six quarterbacks left on the list, speculation indicates that Philip Rivers, in addition to Michael Vick will be ranked higher than the two-time champion. With no other dark horse quarterback worthy of such an elite placement, the ranking is simply unwarranted.... and wrong.
Unlike a normal trial (where evidence is used to make a decision), this case sees a jury of his peers guilty of undervaluing the quarterback. He has had an immensely positive impact on a vastly successful NFL franchise that could not win championships before his arrival. No differently, the fine court of public opinion seems to have the notion that Ben is somehow overrated.
Steelers fans and rivals go back and forth regarding where the bias lies. One side indicates his championship caliber, and the rebuttal is his supporting cast. Steelers fans dispute that he's never had an all-pro offense around him. No athlete has a legendary career without a great supporting cast. Yet, the real issue is that the numbers simply do not lie.
Ben is a championship-level quarterback.
Many quarterbacks win the volume race, your fantasy football game, and earn the "Scott Mitchell: See? 4,000 Yards in a Season Does Not Equate to Greatness" trophy. Few of those are nearly as talented as Roethlisberger.
It is clear that a large portion of fans do not consider Roethlisberger in the upper plateau of signal-callers. That's fine; the Steelers will keep winning games with their Hall of Fame quarterback.
Still, I'd be remiss not to provide the proper evidence to demonstrate Ben's greatness and attempt to explain the logic behind his devaluation.
What is it that makes Ben great? And, if so, why do many fans see things differently?