Dear Ben: Questions for Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

jonathan staub@JStaubSportTalkCorrespondent IMay 24, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with the Vince Lombardi trophy after they won 27-23 the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Dear Mr. Roethlisberger,

I have been a member of Steeler Nation since I was born in 1985.

I have seen 15 different starting quarterbacks under center, two head coaches, seven AFC Championship game appearances and two Super Bowl wins in my 24 years on this planet, and have no doubts that you will provide me with many more memories to share with my children and grandchildren long after you have moved on.

While I was too young to remember Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, or Todd Blackledge, I have vague memories of Bubby Brister, Mike Tomczak, and the ever impressive Neil O’Donnell.

We Pittsburghfans will surely never forget Kordell “Slash” Stewart, and for those of us that remember him, we also remember calling for his head at times in favor of Kent Graham or Tommy Maddox.

Ah yes, “Tommy-gun”, he was a treat to watch.

The XFL star that re-emerged, after his inability to fill in as the successor to John Elway’s throne ultimately drove him from the NFL, and used his arena football talents to win an NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.

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In just two seasons he set nearly every single-season passing record for the Steelers…nothing you can’t top though.

Charlie Batch has been a great backup, and fill-in starter, but he is experienced and didn’t have the kind of start you did.

Any Steeler fan is familiar with how you were thrust into that third week game against the Ravens after Tommy Maddox suffered that frightening neck injury.

Despite mounting a courageous comeback, Baltimore pulled out the victory, but you went on to win 14 games in a row before falling to New England in the Divisional Playoffs.

Your Super Bowl win the next season really solidified your arrival, and the image of you and Jerome “The Bus” Bettis staring at the Lombardi Trophy is forever burned into my brain.

That Gatorade bath on Bill Cowher was also symbolic in that it was one of the more fierce showers in history, but it summed up his style so perfectly.

After setting the NFL record for victories by a QB in his first five years, 51 and counting, you have garnered the trust, admiration, faith and loyalty of all of Steeler Nation with your second Super Bowl win this past year.

Knowing that you have the backing of the NFL’s largest fan fraternity, I was just wondering…

What does Steeler Nation mean to you, and how does it make you feel to be, not only a part of it, but the man we put our trust into every Sunday…and sometimes Monday night?


Being the Steelers quarterback is one of the toughest jobs in sports.

We have such high expectations, and hold not only our players, but our coaches to the highest standards as well.

I don’t remember to much about Chuck Noll, although I have heard and read the legends, but Bill Cowher is a one of the more prominent figures in my Pittsburgh sports memory.

He was a players coach, and one the fans could really get behind; we loved the emotion that just oozed from him on the field.

While our great nation was a little weary about going out of house, spurning Ken Whisenhut, and hiring Mike Tomlin as his replacement, it didn’t take long for him to earn our support as well.

From the moment he dawned a long sleeve black shirt in the middle of 100+ degree training camp heat, to the Super Bowl XLIII victory over Whisenhut’s Arizona Cardinals, Tomlin has done everything a great coach should, and has won our hearts as well.

After playing for, and winning a Super Bowl under each, which coach do you enjoy playing for more, Bill Cowher or Mike Tomlin, and what makes each one so special?


Bill Cowher will go down as one of the great figures in Steelers history.

There are many Hall of Famers and numerous great players that make our great organization so special.

From Noll to Cowher, Lambert to Harrison, Stallworth and Swann to Ward and Holmes, Harris to Bettis and now Bradshaw to you, the Pittsburgh Steelers greats are scattered throughout history.

For every player that puts on the black and gold, they have a legacy to live up to.

You play with someone now, Hines Ward, who embodies everything about this city, as well as the game of football.

He plays the game hard, and is one of the most beloved figures in this team’s rich history.

It begs the question…

To you, where does Hines Ward rank among the all-time Steelers greats, and where do you think his place is in NFL history?


It is hard to find many receivers who played the game like Hines, but there is no team more perfect to showcase his skills than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The same could be said for you.

Our fan-base knows that a play is never dead until you are on your back.

We also know that a game is never over until the clock reads all zero’s, as you always seem to make the plays when they count most.

To me, you resemble a Brett Favre or John Elway.

You penchant for coming back in the fourth quarter is very Elway-esque, and your mobility and gun-slinger mentality is very likeable to both Favre and Elway.

If you had to liken your skills to a particular quarterback in NFL history, who would it be and why?


Speaking of your late quarter heroics, your drive against Baltimore to clinch the division in week 15 was the stuff of legends last year.

Not to mention what you did in the Super Bowl!

If there is under two minutes to go, and I have to drive the length of the field, I don’t want anyone other than Big Ben Roethlisberger guiding my offense.

What goes through your mind in those situations?


When you were staring down Ray Lewis, or knowing that the Super Bowl was hinging on your every movement, what was your thought process like in leading the comeback? And could you take me through it?


It’s the stuff of legends I tell ya.

You have accomplished so much, it is hard to forget that you are only entering your sixth season.


A third Super Bowl would put you in select company, not to say that you aren’t already there.

You are one of only 10 quarterbacks to have won multiple Super Bowls, but another one would make you one of five to have won three or more!

With 20 of 22 starters returning, and beyond adequate replacements filling in, what realistic goals have you set for yourself as a team?

It would be hard to argue that you guys aren’t the favorites to win it all again this year.

Your schedule was one of the toughest in NFL history last season, and you guys broke all kinds of records on the defensive side of the ball.

What does it mean to an offense to have that kind of defense backing you up?


A lighter load this year should take some pressure off of them, but honestly…

Do you feel that your teams offensive abilities were overlooked a bit last year?


You guys played nine of the top 12 defensive teams in the league, you guys were ranked one so make that 11, yet you still managed to average 21.7 points per game.


Do you think that you guys on the offensive side got your just-due?


You put up some unreal numbers just a couple seasons ago when you passed for 3,154 yards, 32 touchdowns and had a rating of 104.1.

If not for Tom Brady having the season that he had, you would have probably been the front runner for MVP.

Last season you passed for 3,301 yards, 17 touchdowns and a well-earned rating of 80.1.

Based on your competition however, those numbers warranted a Pro-Bowl berth in my eyes.

Your numbers should be far better this season, but one guy I’m looking at to have a break-out year is Santonio Holmes.

His performance in the Super Bowl was the stuff of legends, and hopefully he can use that as a building block to take the next step in his career.

What does a game like that do for a player’s confidence?


What did it mean to you to see Holmes step up like that and make the plays he made?


What did it mean to the team to see that kind of grit from such a young kid?


What can fans expect from Santonio this year, and what do you expect from him?


His catch to clinch the division against Baltimore, as well as his catch to put you ahead in the Super Bowl, were two of the best grabs I have ever seen.

Do you think Santonio’s catch in the Super Bowl is on par with the Immaculate Reception?


Granted Franco’s catch in Pittsburgh lore, Santonio’s grab not only required alien like skill, it gave you guys six Super Bowls, the first franchise to reach that number.


While I was ecstatic for Holmes, I felt that the win was vindication for the offensive line.

They took a lot of heat last year, sometimes deservedly so, but I don’t think people factor in the broken plays and length of blocks that these guys have to hold.

Do you think their play will improve with a year of cohesiveness under their belt?


If those guys get on the same page…we have the talent on offense to justifiably send at least five guys to the Pro-Bowl between you, Willie Parker, Santonio, Hines and tight end Heath Miller.

All of these guys have, and are developing, their places in Pittsburgh history, but the last thing I want to know is this…

When you retire, what legacy do you hope to leave behind?


How do you want Steeler Nation to remember you? How do you want the everyday football fan to remember you?


Where do you hope to rank among football’s all-time greats?


What do you hope people say about Big Ben Roethlisberger when they tell their kids about the quarterback that reaffirmed Pittsburgh’s status as one of the most dominant organizations in the NFL?


Thank you for taking the time to read!

Jonathan Staub

Born January 14, 1985 at 6:32 p.m.

Steeler fan since January 14, 1985, 6:32:01 p.m.

P.S. – I was also wondering what it means to you as a player to have such magnificent owners like the Rooneys.


What does it mean to you to have such hands on owners that greet the players every day, are on the field with them and treat them like their own family on such a regular basis?




To my readers


Do you have a question you’d like to ask the Steelers quarterback?

These are just a few things I’d love to get his thoughts on, but I want to hear about what you want to know.

This is an evaluation piece for my CBS application, and if I am fortunate enough to find myself covering the Steelers this upcoming season, and you have a question you want answered, I’ll do my best to incorporate it into my work and get you the answers you want.

Leave me some feedback below, I want to know about what Steeler Nation wants to know.