On Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers released the results of their Team Most Valuable Player award, and the winner in 2018 was none other than second year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
When this information came through on my phone, I immediately shook my head and wondered why Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t the winner of the award. After all, outside of his high interception totals, Roethlisberger has been having a banner year when it comes to his overall statistics.
This made me look up who has won the Team MVP award since Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004. What I found was certainly surprising — Roethlisberger has only been named Team MVP once throughout his career.
Take a look:
2004 - LB James Farrior
2005 - NT Casey Hampton & WR Hines Ward
2006 - RB Willie Parker
2007 - LB James Harrison
2008 - LB James Harrison
2009 - QB Ben Roethlisberger
2010 - SS Troy Polamalu
2011 - WR Antonio Brown
2012 - TE Heath Miller
2013 - WR Antonio Brown
2014 - RB Le’Veon Bell
2015 - WR Antonio Brown
2016 - RB Le’Veon Bell
2017 - WR Antonio Brown
2018 - WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Before going any further, this isn’t to take anything away from any of these athletes who earned the MVP award. They are all truly deserving in their own way, based on position. However, when I see Antonio Brown’s name four times on this list, I can’t help but think the guy throwing him the football could, and maybe should, have gotten the nod on more than one occasion.
It is at this time when the reality becomes how the players vote on this award, and, to me, this is telling. The fact here, and not opinion, is the players in the locker room are feeling on every occasion but one they felt there was someone else more valuable to the team than the franchise quarterback.
Does this speak to Roethlisberger as a teammate?
Does this suggest Roethlisberger might not be the leader many believe him to be?
Or maybe this is something which goes beyond teammates not liking, or respecting, Roethlisberger, but Roethlisberger suggesting others to bestow the award on others. After all, in the waning years of his career Roethlisberger has certainly avoided the lime light as much as possible.
Whatever the reason is, which we will likely never know, Roethlisberger’s lack of Team MVP awards is certainly curious. For a player who has re-written almost every statistical category as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roethlisberger seems to be left off the list when his teammates cast their ballots for the most valuable player on the team.
For those wondering, Terry Bradshaw was named MVP twice in his career (‘77, ’78), Neil O’Donnell was given the award in in 1995 and even Kordell Stewart was honored with Team MVP in 2001. Outside of Roethlisberger’s 2009 Team MVP, those are the only quarterbacks to be given the prestigious award since 1969.
Why hasn’t Big Ben won more Team MVPs? We may never know, but count this as one of the many curiosities surrounding No. 7 throughout his successful career in Pittsburgh.