Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Manning Parade Should Remind Steelers Fans What They Have

Peyton Manning was recently released by the Indianapolis Colts after playing for the team with the horseshoe on its helmet since his being drafted by them in 1998. Now a free agent, he's shopping his talents to the team with whom he feels he fits in best. One of the twelve teams vying for his services has even used the word "desperately" to describe how much they want those services.

With the recent release of Hines Ward also, Steelers fans have an understanding of what it is to lose a beloved veteran. A winner. A gentleman. It should as well help them to realize that the same could happen in a few years to another of their own. The same indeed could happen to Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger had been in the news in the past few weeks himself because of a couple of things. Most notably because of team president Art Rooney II's comments. You've heard it oft repeated since Rooney II said it some weeks ago, Ben Roethlisberger needs to "tweak" his game.

Because of his "backyard football" style, his "John Wayne" save-the-day complex and his occasional Divo attitude, Roethlisberger, Big Ben to his fans, does have his share of detractors. And those detractors have taken the opportunity to take Rooney II's "tweak" comment and run with it. Even changing it to mean or say he should "change" his game.

Without a doubt, there are a lot of knowledgable fans out there. There are also, though, some troglodytes who should never be allowed to comment on anything football related, yet they still offer up their "wealth" of knowledge on Twitter and Facebook. These somehow have the tendency to influence otherwise intelligent fans.            

Constructive criticism rapidly becomes critical deconstruction when Roethlisberger holds the ball too long. Certainly Roethlisberger has his flaws, but the love-hate relationship can lean toward the latter more often than it should. There's simply no reason for overly harsh criticism of someone who busts his hump for the sake of his team like Roethlisberger does. In fact, we might be seeing a bit history repeating itself.

No Steelers player may ever have had more of a love-hate relationship with fans than Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw was booed vigorously by fickle fans in Pittsburgh for the first five years of his career. Those same fickle fans wanted Joe Gilliam or Terry Hanratty to be their quarterback instead.

It's a good thing Chuck Noll ultimately didn't listen. Four Super Bowl titles, two Super Bowl MVPs, two Team MVPs, and one NFL MVP ultimately silenced the booing. Still, the echoes of boos lingered in his head. It took him years before he reconciled and returned to Pittsburgh after his retirement.

Naturally, the circumstances surrounding the two quarterbacks' situations are different. But it's still something to keep in mind. Let's not allow ourselves to forget what he's accomplished. The first seven years of his career were actually reminiscent of the numbers of Hall of Fame legend Joe Montana. I'll list some of those similarities and other accomplishments:

Roethlisberger has been one of the most efficient passers in NFL history. He has an all-time in NFL passer rating of 92.1, completion percentage of 63.1% and is 5th all-time in yards per attempt (8.06) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 1,500 career attempts. He also has the fourth highest career winning percentage (.708) as a starter in the regular season among quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 starts.

Some individual records Roethlisberger possesses are: most regular season wins in a season, rookie QB -- 13 (2004);

Longest regular season win streak to start a career for a NFL QB -- 15 games (won all 13 starts in the 2004 season, won first 2 games of the 2005 season);

Most wins as a starting quarterback in first five NFL seasons (reg. season only) - 51 (from 2004–2008); highest passer rating, rookie season -- 98.1 (2004);

Highest completion percentage, rookie season -- 66.4% (2004);

Highest single-game completion percentage, rookie season (min. 20 attempts) -- 84.0% (completed 21/25 passes at Dallas on 10/17/2004);

Most games with a completion percentage of 70.0% or higher, rookie season (min. 10 attempts) -- 6 (2004);

Most games with a completion percentage of 80.0% or higher, single season (min. 10 attempts) -- 4 (2007);

(Tie) Most touchdown passes, Monday Night Football game -- 5 (11/5/2007 vs. Baltimore Ravens);

Youngest starting QB ever to win the Super Bowl (2005), and the second-youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls;

and the fourth-fewest starts by a quarterback to reach 80 regular season wins -- 113 (behind Tom Brady, Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler).

Make no mistake, the sun has reached it's apex in Roethlisberger's career. He has some incredible accomplishments behind him, but also a still bright future in front of him. In fact, Roethlisberger is hoping he is just entering his prime:

Tweaking his game isn't a negative thing, it just refers to minor adjustments that will help elongate his career. He's a veteran and proven winner. Just like a few other quarterbacks of note. Let's just he continues those winning ways in Black and Gold for a long time.