QB Ben Roethlisberger
It’s impossible to name the champion of the defense and not recognize the most important counterpart on offense that trialed with him through all the accomplishments. A year later, Colbert would double-down with another franchise leader to come & a member of one of the greatest quarterback draft classes we have ever witnessed, selecting Ben Roethlisberger 11th in the first round in 2004.
Though there was a lack of competition played coming from the University of Miami at Ohio, scouts generally believed in Roethlisberger’s abilities to be able to translate to the professional league.
Unlike Polamalu, Ben was a rising star from year one receiving the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award completing 66% of his passes (wouldn’t surpass mark again until year 6) and leading the Steelers to a 13-0 record as the starter. Living up to the hype, it propelled Roethlisberger into stardom & the Steelers as contenders.
Not taking long to rise to the occasion, the sophomore slump bug never occurred for Roethlisberger, entering the playoffs for a second straight year to be eventual champions in Super Bowl XL vs the Seahawks. Coupled with a great defense for years to come, the AFC had a new face to compete with the infamous Bill Belichick & Tom Brady New England Patriots.
Surrounded with profiled athletes such as Jerome Bettis, Heath Miller, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, & Mike Wallace, the 2000s served as a time for Big Ben to hoist the Lombardi twice, but only selected to the Pro-Bowl once & without an All-Pro honor.
Playing in the primes of QB Peyton Manning & Brady surely made life difficult for Ben to obtain those nominations, but it would be post-2010 when the numbers & achievements would start to pour in.
Though the Steelers have not managed to reach the Super Bowl since their victory over the Cardinals in 2009, Ben has been in 5 Pro-Bowls (4 consecutive from 14’-17’) & surpassed the 4,000 passing yard marker 5-times. An identity change on offense could be a great reason for the influx of numbers, but the “Triple B’s” of Ben & former Steelers Le’ Veon Bell & Antonio Brown surged through whomever in the NFL.
Now on the brink of retirement, the veteran QB will have a career worth 1,000 words to look back on and will be a day the city of Pittsburgh feels for a while.