A week or so ago, when news first broke that David Carr, former professional quarterback and — like everyone else on the Internet — current person capable of making people go nuts by ranking stuff, published a top-10 list of NFL passers that didn’t include the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, I didn’t even so much as blink.
In fact, much like fireworks in Pittsburgh, the low-ranking of Roethlisberger has been so common throughout his career, I didn’t even bother to look up.
Don’t get me wrong, the overall absurdity of Carr’s list — a list that also omitted Eagles sensation Carson Wentz; ranked his brother, Derek Carr, fourth; Matthew Stafford sixth; and Jimmy Garoppolo 10th — would have caused me to attach one of those laughing emoticons to the many articles about it linked to Facebook, had I known how to do so.
But the Roethlisberger snub didn’t shock me in the least.
It didn’t bother me, either.
At this point in his career — one that includes two Super Bowls, six Pro Bowls, more than 51,000 passing yards and 329 touchdowns — Roethlisberger is like one of those actors who’s got only three Oscars, even though his name is Jack Nicholson.
In case you didn’t know, Nicholson has done pretty well for himself over the years and certainly won’t be defined by awards.
Heck, why should you or I be offended by Roethlisberger getting snubbed by David Carr, after we lived through the years when the likes of Tony Romo and Joe Flacco often bested No. 7 in the quarterback hierarchy department?
It’s easy to dismiss David Carr as a know-nothing football “expert” who, as so many people have said since he released his list, may have suffered irreversible brain damage from all the times he was sacked as a member of the expansion Houston Texans.
But know-nothing “experts” aren’t the only ones who have dissed Roethlisberger during his career.
For years, John Clayton, the Pittsburgh native, respected football insider and protagonist in one of ESPN’s all-time greatest commercials, appeared on Mark Madden’s radio show on a regular basis.
No matter how many times Madden asked him to change his mind, Clayton wouldn’t budge on his conviction that Carson Palmer was a better quarterback than Roethlisberger — this opinion lasting through at least one Steelers’ Super Bowl victory.
Anyway, the thing about top-10 lists compiled during a player’s career is that nobody will remember them when his playing days are over.
Take Palmer, for instance. Do you think anyone will remember that he was once considered a better quarterback than Roethlisberger?
Instead, the lasting image of Palmer will unfortunately be of him lying on the ground after suffering a major knee injury during a playoff game against the Steelers.
Now, that’s certainly not Palmer’s fault, and I’m definitely not making light of the injury, but my point is, Roethlisberger went on to win that playoff game and build a championship legacy with the Steelers.
Carson Palmer never did anything during the remainder of his career to create a new or lasting image.
Looking at Carr’s list, the first three names mentioned — Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees — obviously have nothing left to prove.
But what will Derek Carr be remembered for? What will his lasting image be? Unless he hurries up and does something special on the gridiron, the memento might be a screenshot of his brother’s list from 2018.
Russell Wilson, who I’m a big fan of, did win a Super Bowl, but he may actually be better known for the one he didn’t win. Unlike Roethlisberger, who captured a second Lombardi by throwing a touchdown in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIII, Wilson lost out on a second-straight Lombardi for the Seahawks by throwing an interception in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLIX.
I could go on and on with the possible, defining legacies of the remaining players on Carr’s list — Stafford may forever be known as the $50 million man; Philip Rivers may go on to be known as the modern-day Dan Fouts (he never got the Chargers to the Super Bowl); Matt Ryan may always be associated with the Falcons’ epic collapse in Super Bowl LI; Cam Newton may forever be known for his Super Bowl L post-game meltdown; and Garoppolo may go on to be known as some guy.
Ben Roethlisberger will be remembered for many things when his Steelers career is over, but top-10 quarterback rankings — well, they’ll be far down the list.