Ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year again: FOOTBALL IS BACK:
We at If It Ain’t Steel are doing our annual defense of our elite, Hall of Fame-bound-when-he-hangs-up-his-cleats quarterback. Yes, I said Hall of Fame bound, haters. Anyone would be foolish to think otherwise. And I have every intention of being in Canton in my Big Ben No. 7 jersey and with my Terrible Towel in hand, watching in five years after he retires, being inducted. He's goin', haters, get over it. He may not always be pretty, but he gets it done.
I say that because there have been a lot of questions raised this offseason about Big Ben, namely his Hall of Fame credentials, his relationship with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley and his age and health\durability. To all of the that I say HOGWASH. (I'm from West Virginia and my partner is from Mississippi, I'll say "hogwash" if I want to say it.) Big Ben has proven time and time again that he is the toughest quarterback playing today. How many other quarterbacks have played with and through injuries like Big Ben has? He has always played the John Wayne role ("John Wayne with a football" as I like to say it): he takes a pounding, but routinely has "dead indians in his cowboy movie" as head coach Mike Tomlin has said. Big Ben’s toughness has never been an issue, even though he will play up the drama now and then.
There is the also the hullabaloo that he is getting older and has seen better days because he takes a lot of hits. Yes, he has taken a lot of hits, some of which, though, even he admits are his own doing. The Steelers addressed that this offseason in part by drafting two offensive linemen in David DeCastro and Mike Adams. Injuries, age and a certain lack of talent have plagued the offensive line for the past few seasons, so adding more youth and pedigree to the OLine will hopefully plug those holes and eventually return it to a unit worthy of past Steelers lines.
There was also the media-induced issue of Big Ben and Todd Haley not being able to coexist. Again, hogwash. Big Ben and Haley are adults and, no, may not always agree or get along. But why do people think this anyway? It's because of Haley's history of being a hardcase and his rocky reputation with wide receivers and quarterbacks. Why, though? Let's have Mike Prisuta answer that. He offered this on the most recent edition of "Agree to Disagree" on Steelers.com. When Haley joined the New York Jets in 1997, they had gone 1-15 the year before. When Haley joined the Chicago Bears in 2001, the year before that they'd gone 5-11. In 2007 when Haley joined the Arizona Cardinals, they had also gone 5-11. And in 2009 when Haley joined the Kansas City Chiefs, they had gone 2-14 the year before. Like Prisuta asked, "Do you think maybe he was a hard guy and he was in people's faces BECAUSE THEY NEEDED TO BE YELLED AT, 'CAUSE THEY WEREN'T DOING IT RIGHT?!" Hmm...could be!
At that the end of the day they both have a common drive: to win. As far as I'm concerned, this is a marriage made in football heaven. A top tier OC and top tier QB uniting for one common goal: the Lombardi Trophy. Since Big Ben ripped one out of Haley's grasp a few years ago, you know he has extra incentive to get back to the Super Bowl to get one of his own.
We also have had to endure the talk of Big Ben not being elite or Hall of Fame worthy. Same *ahem* stuff, different offseason. I am here to rectify that little miscarriage of football justice and enlighten the masses who seem to love to trash my quarterback (I'm just not gonna cry like Terrell Owens).
Ben has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL and is one of only three quarterbacks to have been to and won the Super Bowls multiple times in the last decade. Joe Flacco hasn't done it. Peyton Manning hasn't even done it. Philip Rivers can't even spell Super Bowl. So, how is Big Ben not elite again?
Big Ben's playoff record is impeccable, second only to Tom Brady who has three rings. His record is also better than Eli Manning's, the quarterback who has been the darling of ESPN and the NFL Network of late. Eli may also have two Rings, but Big Ben has appeared in more playoff games and has won more than Eli.
Here are the playoff numbers for the only current multiple Super Bowl winning quarterbacks:
Ben Roethlisberger Playoff record: 10-4
Home playoff record: 5-2; Road playoff record: 3-1; Non-wild card playoff record: 9-2; Playoff points per game average: 26.5; Super Bowl appearances: 3; Super Bowl rings: 2
Eli Manning Playoff record: 8-3
Home playoff record: 1-2; Road playoff record: 5-1; Non-wild card playoff record: 6-1; Playoff points per game average: 19.82; Super Bowl appearances: 2; Super Bowl rings: 2
Tom Brady Playoff record: 16-6
Home playoff record: 10-2; Road playoff record: 3-2; Non-wild card playoff record: 14-5; Playoff points per game average: 24.55; Super Bowl appearances: 5; Super Bowl rings: 3
I found this very interesting because Big Ben is not being considered elite or Hall of Fame worthy, yet Eli is. His numbers are comparable or better across the board, yet Eli is a Hall of Famer and Big Ben isn't? We all know Tom Brady punched his ticket to Canton a long time ago, I admit, but I think it's funny how none of the media or so-called experts want to point out that Big Ben and his offense have scored more points on the average than Brady. I will, though.
People want to downplay Big Ben’s play in the Super Bowl’s in which he's appeared. No, his first Super Bowl performance was hardly, well, super. The second time, though, was very good as he orchestrated arguably the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. I choose to look also at his play in the playoffs overall. His play was stellar in those playoff games and it is that play that got them to the Super Bowls. His play in 2005 was some of the best that I have seen. If it wasn't for his excellent play in those playoffs the Steelers never would have made it to Detroit that year.
Big Ben’s record during the regular season is 80-33 (.708), that is second in the NFL among active starting QBs. Not too shabby for a QB who some say is not elite and is "done." I look at Ben like fine wine, he gets better with age. I look to imbibe a little bit more this season too.
Big Ben does not actually have to prove anything to anyone, his records speak for themselves. At the same time, Ben does not care about records-all he cares about is winning and winning Super Bowls. He was recently a guest on the Vinnie and Cook Show on Sports radio 93.7 The Fan, and this is what he said about stats and getting older:
"The only stats that matter to me are wins and losses and that usually correlates into Super Bowls. I don’t know how much longer I have left, but I’d like to think that I’m entering into the prime of my career, and that’s obviously why I was a little frustrated early on with the new offense because you feel like you’re just getting ready to go and then they change it on you. But I just feel like we took a quick step back but now we’re moving full steam ahead and I’m just really excited. I hope my best football is yet to come, and I hope that leads to more Super Bowls."
Wins and SBs are a big part of what define a QB, not just stats. So many, though, lose sight of that with fantasy points and the rest of that nonsense. I mean, yes, Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers are great fantasy guys, but fantasy numbers alone don't mean SB wins. Ask Rivers.
Eli deserves the credit that he's getting, yes, but it's mainly because he won the MVP in both SBs. One could argue that the reason for that was because he did not have any marquee talent around him and was the only real choice, where one could also say that Big Ben deserved to be MVP in SB 43. Not taking anything away from Santonio Holmes, but it was No. 7 who was more consistent throughout that game.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski had this to say in his top QB list regarding Big Ben and his not getting enough credit. He called him "the strongest QB in the NFL. He not only extends plays with movement out of the pocket, but also with his natural strength in the pocket. He's 'barn strong.'"
Going further Jaworski commented on Big Ben's "ability to make throws consistently from the pocket. I charted all 60 of his 20-plus yard completions in 2011. Only five came outside the pocket. In fact, time and time again he showed one of the most central attributes necessary to play at a high level in the NFL: the willingness to look down the gun barrel and deliver the football."
Is it just me or did he just describe the final drive of SB 43?
I will just end this by saying, talk all you want, mainstream media and so-called experts. Because at the end of the day, your talking doesn’t mean a whole lot when John Wayne and the Steelers will leave dead indians in their wake AGAIN. He and Haley will coexist and will make it work, the Steelers offense will click on all cylinders they will get another one or maybe even two SBs wins before all is said and done. Maybe he won't be pretty doing it, but he'll do it. What will you say then? Will you give him his due? I doubt it.