Big Ben's Time
Ask a fan to name the elite Quarterbacks in the NFL, and a few names will come to mind immediately; Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rogers. All of these athletes have brought home the goods and led their teams to the Lombardi Trophy. The next group will be people like Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan, players whose teams have not reached the Super Bowl.
But what about Ben Rothlisberger from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The numbers should put him on that list; three Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl titles, one in a thrilling comeback, playoff seasons all but two seasons since he was drafted in 2004.
Could a lot of it have to do with his past off-field exploits. The 2006 motorcycle accident and the sexual assault charges, most recently in 2010. Even his appearance on as guest host of WWE's "Monday Night Raw" could be seen as sending the 'wrong message'. Ben, for all his talent and ability, isn't seen as being 'marketable' by the NFL.
If the NFL expects Ben to be a "Model Citizen" along the lines of a Joe Montana or a Dan Marino, it won't happen. For one, that won't play in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a 'working class' city, it may like it's athletes a bit rough around the edges; Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, even Ben's teammate James Harrison, all have become or are becoming icons of the Steel City.
Second, that's not Ben. Ben is, at heart, a country boy of sorts. He'll probably never 'toe the line' fully. Getting married is a good start perhaps.
Looking a few years down the line, is he a Hall of Fame candidate. Based on what he's done so far on the field, maybe. How clean he can keep his nose will determine that further.