After the Super Bowl tonight, Steve Young (one of my least favorite commentators) said now that Drew Brees has won a Super Bowl, he should be considered among the league's elite quarterbacks, right up there with Brady and Manning. Last year, this same "expert" argued that Ben Roethlisberger was not an elite quarterback, despite his two Lombardi trophies. Like any true Steelers fan, I was more than a little annoyed with this, so here's a little comparison between Ben and some of the best quarterbacks, not just of today, but of all time.
1. Super Bowl Championships: Forget personal statistics. The true measure of a quarterback is how many rings he has on his finger. Look at Ben compared to some of the best to ever play the game. Brett Favre has played in the league for eighteen years. In that time, Mr. Retirement has one Super Bowl win and one loss. Peyton Manning, the man who everyone has been calling "The Greatest QB of all time" this week, also has a 1-1 record in his twelve year career. Like Ben, Dan Marino made it to the Super Bowl in his second year, but unlike Ben, Marino lost that game and never led his team to the Super Bowl again. It took John Elway fourteen years and three losses before he won his first of two Super Bowls. Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was 0-4 in the big game. Joe Namath is justly famous for his Super Bowl three victory, but Namath played another eight years without ever getting his team back to the big game. In a distinguished ten year career, Roger Staubach was 2-2 in the Super Bowl. Bob Griese played for thirteen years, but the hall of famer was only 2-1 in the Super Bowl. In fact, Steve Young, the mouth who roared so loudly against Ben last year, led his team to only one Super Bowl win. Sorry, Steve, but you get no credit for the rings you got while watching Joe Montana. Finally, Drew Brees, who is a class act and a great player, has one super bowl now in his nine year career. Ben Roethlisberger won two super bowls in his first five years. Other quarterbacks, namely Montana, Aikman, and Bradshaw, have more rings, but frankly, I'll take that company, and besides, Ben isn't done yet.
2. Winning Percentage: Despite playing in the time of free agency, Ben Roethlisberger consistently wins. We're so used to Ben winning games that a season like this, where we "only" go 9-7 is a profound disappointment. If you look at current quarterbacks with at least fifty starts, only Tom Brady has a winning percentage higher than Ben's 71%. It seems like Manning goes 15-1 every year, but actually, his career winning percentage is only 64.4%. Favre's is only 62.5%, and Brees has won only 51.6% of his games. If you look at some of the all time greats, Joe Montana's winning percentage was 71.3% nearly identical to Ben's. Troy Aikman's winning percentage was only 56.9%. Namath won a paltry 49% of his games. Elway won 64% of his games, and Marino won 61.2% of his games. I know Ben has played only six years, but his winning percentage is on pace to be one of the greatest of all time. Even our beloved Terry Bradshaw, playing with the Steel Curtain defense and four other Hall of Famers on offense, won only 67.7% of his games.
3. Fourth Quarter Comebacks: When the chips are down, who do you want under center? John Elway has the most career fourth quarter comebacks with 47 in his 16 year career. Dan Marino is second with 37 in sixteen years. Montana had 31 career fourth quarter comebacks in 15 years. In just six years, Ben has nineteen career fourth quarter comebacks. If he plays as long as Marino and Elway, he has an excellent chance of beating both of their records.
Conclusion: Success in the NFL ultimately is about winning games. In these three categories that directly relate to winning games and winning championships, Ben Roethlisberger compares favorably to the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Steve Young, who won one championship, has a winning percentage of 65.7%, and brought his team back in the fourth quarter 14 times, needs to shut the hell up.