Whether you love him, hate him or are completely indifferent, now more than ever is the time to finally start giving Ben Roethlisberger the credit he deserves as an elite NFL quarterback.
In seven seasons as the Steelers' starting quarterback, Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to the playoffs five times and is now making what will be his third trip to the Super Bowl. In each of his first two Super Bowl appearances, Roethlisberger led his team to victory.
As of right now, Roethlisberger is one of just two starting quarterbacks in the league, Tom Brady being the other, to have won multiple Super Bowls. More impressively, in total there are currently only five starting quarterbacks who have won the big game at least once: Roethlisberger, Brady, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
Yet Roethlisberger is still not considered an elite quarterback. Why not? The big problem is his off the field perception. With the multiple times he has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, the general public seemingly wants to throw the book at him. But in terms of being a great quarterback, none of that should matter.
Let's delve a little deeper into the statistics and compare Roethlisberger with the rest of the elite quarterbacks around the league.
Roethlisberger has a career regular season win percentage of .706. He trails Tom Brady and his .776 win percentage. But it is far better than the incumbent Super Bowl champion quarterback Drew Brees, who is at .577. It is also better than Peyton Manning and his career .678 win percentage.
While Roethlisberger's passing yards and touchdown passes fall short of the so-called elite quarterbacks, through seven full seasons, his interception totals are solid.
He has thrown just 86 interceptions in his first seven years. That is the same number that Brady threw in his first seven seasons and far less than the 99 and 120 thrown by Brees and Manning in their first seven years respectively.
Roethlisberger's toughness also has to be given some credit. Through his first seven years, he has been sacked 274 times. Compare that to Manning, who has been sacked a total of 231 times in his entire 13-season career. Brady and Brees have also been knocked down far fewer times than Roethlisberger, all while having careers longer than him.
Yet he continues to get up and perform at a very high level.
But the most important thing to be considered an elite quarterback has to be winning—more importantly, winning the big games. Roethlisberger has done just that, time and time again.
His current postseason record is an amazing 10-2. That is a .833 win percentage. In 13 years, Manning has only amassed a total of nine postseason wins compared to 10 losses. Brees has only advanced into the playoffs four times in his career, and he is just 4-3.
Brady, the current gold standard for playoff quarterbacks, is 14-5 in the postseason in eight appearances. That is a win percentage of .737. While impressive, it falls short of Roethlisberger.
Just to take it yet one step further, when you compare Big Ben to the legendary Joe Montana, who some consider the greatest quarterback in history, Roethlisberger still comes out on top. Montana had a career playoff win percentage of .696, as he went 16-7. If you just look at Montana's first 12 playoff games, to keep the comparison really accurate, he was only 8-4.
Thus, while Roethlisberger may not boast the record-breaking pass yards or 50-touchdown-pass seasons, like the other elite quarterbacks in the league, he proves his greatness in the win column.
If you win one Super Bowl, you may have just been lucky for a year. When you win two, that shows that you are one of the best in the business. But if you win three, like Roethlisberger is on the verge of doing, how is possible that you can be considered anything but elite?