The Pittsburgh Steelers have had two quarterbacks who continuously compete for the ranking of GOAT in the Steel City.
Right now, ESPN is running a poll to decide the top five quarterbacks for each NFL franchise. For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger, Terry Bradshaw, Bobby Layne, Neil O’Donnell, and Kordell Stewart are the five competing.
This isn’t for anyone who voted to keep Big Ben at the top of the list. If, you believe that what Roethlisberger has done throughout his time with the Steelers is worthy of making him the greatest quarterback in Steel City history then, by all means, keeping doing you.
This is for the rest of the voters out there.
Honestly, it’s easy to see why people vote for Bradshaw. For one, it’s a generation debate. All the time, people throw out the argument of, “it was a more physical game back then,” and they’re right. Back in the 1970s, the NFL was a place where you got punched in the face and then kicked in the groin when you tried to get back up.
Today, quarterbacks are protected like they’re newborn babies playing in a pile of needles. No matter how they get hit, there seems to always be a flag somewhere.
That’s not the argument, though. Whether Bradshaw took a bigger beating or not doesn’t change the fact that Big Ben has done things quarterbacks are supposed to do. Whether Ben has one more year on Bradshaw or not means nothing. When you look at the numbers, Roethlisberger has Bradshaw beat in almost everything.
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To compare – Bradshaw threw for 27,912 yards, 210 touchdowns, and 210 interceptions in 13 seasons with the Steelers. Roethlisberger, who just finished his 13th season, has thrown for 46,814 yards, 301 touchdowns, and 160 interceptions.
Again, this can be taken as a generation comparison. When Bradshaw played, NFL teams threw the ball much less than they did today. As of right now, Roethlisberger has thrown 2,031 more attempts than Bradshaw in the same amount of time.
But much like the LeBron James vs Michael Jordan debate, it isn’t anyone’s fault that these two were born in different time periods. And, if you honestly believe Big Ben wouldn’t be just as successful in Bradshaw’s era then you have never seen him avoid five tackles, scramble out of the pocket, and find a wide receiver after almost losing his head.
Then, there is always the “Bradshaw has more awards,” argument. Yes, Bradshaw’s four Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVPs, and a league MVP is impressive. Heck, that’s a resume worthy of a potential greatest quarterback of all-time ranking. Which, is why it means even less with Bradshaw not even being considered in the greatest of all-time debate.
Yes, Bradshaw has all these accolades, but in a time where it didn’t take much to have an outstanding passing season. Add the fact that he played with the greatest defense of all time and it’s hard to say he led the Steelers to success by himself and earned these awards through phenomenal play.
Compared to Big Ben’s two Super Bowls, five Pro Bowls, and an Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Bradshaw looks like a God. You have to remember, though, that Bradshaw didn’t have incredible seasons when he won them.
In 1978, the year Bradshaw won NFL MVP, he threw for 2,915 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. Back then, thats MVP worthy, but in today’s game, that could get you benched.
There’s the difference. As much as I and every other Steelers fan love Bradshaw, he isn’t the greatest Steelers quarterback of all-time. He’s one of the most iconic and legendary figures the Steel City has ever had, but he isn’t the GOAT.
He has everything you need to be in the debate, and his resume is one that will live in NFL history forever. Compared to what Big Ben has done on the field, though, Bradshaw is number two in Pittsburgh quarterbacks.
It’s an argument that will forever live on in the Steel City, but when you break it down, Ben “Big Ben” Roethlisberger is the GOAT of Pittsburgh Steelers gun-slingers.