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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Big Ben makes point with young QBs

By Jamison Hensley

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made headlines recently when he told USA Today Sports that he is taking a wait-and-see approach with the new wave of quarterbacks.

"People ask me all the time about these young quarterbacks," Roethlisberger said Thursday. "Let's wait. One year does not mean a lot in this league. Let's see what happens in two, three years."

Roethlisberger has every right to say this because he's done it. After winning 14 straight games to take the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie in 2004, he helped Pittsburgh win the Super Bowl in his second season.

While many like to say the Steelers' defense carried Roethlisberger to the title that year (his passer rating was the lowest of any winning Super Bowl quarterback), Roethlisberger finished third in the NFL in 2005 in passer rating during the regular season and contributed three touchdowns in the AFC Championship Game that year.

I believe this type of underappreciation is why Roethlisberger made this statement. This month, Roethlisberger was ranked No. 61 in NFL Network's top 100 players. Eleven quarterbacks were put ahead of him. Yes, eleven. Three of the league's new young guns -- Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson -- are all higher than Roethlisberger.

I know Roethlisberger isn't a coveted fantasy football quarterback, but he wouldn't be the 12th quarterback selected if league executives were building a real football team among the current crop of players. Despite battling injuries the past two seasons, Roethlisberger is still among the best downfield passers in the game and the toughest to bring down. He's among the top six quarterbacks in the NFL right now and he's got the two Super Bowl rings to back it up.

And, even though Mike Wallace thinks Ryan Tannehill can be the next Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch feels Landry Jones was drafted to replace Big Ben, there's a lot of football left in him. Roethlisberger is 31 and in the prime of his career.

So, while it looks like everyone is in a rush to anoint these young quarterbacks, let's not forget that Roethlisberger is the more established quarterback, and honestly, he's a better one at this stage of their careers.