When a player is drafted, it is expected that they will take a few years to develop into the world class player they are destined to turn into. For a quarterback, getting drafted to the NFL doesn’t mean you are going to be a starter one day, or even see playing time at all in that case. As a top ranked prospect entering the league, you must prove yourself and earn your playing time because as the backbone of the team, no organization is going to take a risk on someone they don’t think will one day be the answer to their problems and help guide them to success.
Ben Roethlisberger was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft and was expected to become their franchise quarterback. When he joined the team he was the third person in line for the starting job but luckily for Roethlisberger, injuries took their toll on both Charlie Batch and Tommy Maddox; the second string and starting quarterbacks that were ahead of Roethlisberger on the Steelers depth chart. A rookie fresh out of Miami University at Ohio, ‘Big Ben’ saw a lot more action in his first season than he expected to see. He came out flying through the regular season winning all 13 games he started and finished with a personal record of 14-1 by season’s end. Not only was his start to his career the best amongst all rookies in NFL history; Roethlisberger, along with Tommy Maddox, helped the Steelers become the first AFC team to finish with 15 wins during the regular season. In his rookie season Roethlisberger took home the 2004 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year awards.
The following season Ben Roethlisberger was named the team’s starting quarterback. When he wasn’t sidelined due to knee injuries, he helped lead the team to a 9-3 record. Without him the team was 2-2, finishing the season 11-5 which would be good enough for them to clinch the AFC wild card position. The Steelers came across the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks that year in the postseason. First they knocked off the Bengals. Trailing 17-7 after the first half, the Steelers came out flying in the second half and went on to win 31-17. The Colts were next in line. Up 21-18 late, Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball that was later scooped up by Colts defensive back Nick Harper. With nothing but the end zone in sight, Harper thought he was home free for the game winning touchdown until he was tripped up from behind by Roethlisberger; a tackle that would prove to be the game-saving play. The following week the Steelers and Roethlisberger knocked off the Denver Broncos 34-17 in the AFC Championship to book their trip to the Super Bowl. Despite having one of his worst passing games in his entire career, Roethlisberger and the Steelers were still able to come away with the Super Bowl thanks in part to the huge plays from the defensive team as they stepped up big in the Steelers 21-10 win over Seattle in Super Bowl XL. At the young age of 23, Ben Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win a Super Bowl as he surpassed Tom Brady on the list.
One thing that Big Ben does that separates him from the rest is the way he gives back to society. He helps give back to those that help keep the entire city safe. Roethlisberger is a big supporter of the police and fire department so he helps them so they can help make the quality of life better for the residents in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Findlay, Ohio. He purchases dogs and dog safety vests for the departments so they can train the service dogs and has put in more than $100,000 throughout the years. For the past five seasons, Roethlisberger has donated and helped out fire and police departments in any city that the team has traveled to throughout the season. If the Steelers make the playoffs, he then makes two more U.S. cities eligible that wouldn’t normally be eligible throughout the NFL season. Through his foundation, he has also donated money to the tsunami relief fund which he once donated an entire game cheque to the fund and helps out with anything his teammates may be up to in the city or back in their own hometown regarding their charity and/or foundation work.
In 2007, the University of Miami retired Roethlisberger’s number 7 as it was the first football number to be retired by the school in 34 years. He went on to win Super Bowl XLIII in 2008 against the Arizona Cardinals and helped the Steelers return there again this past season; although they came up short against the Green Bay Packers. He has been named to the Pro Bowl once and holds about 20 records with Miami University, 50 with the Steelers and about 10 throughout the rest of the NFL. He has had food named after him in Pittsburgh and he even has his own line of BBQ sauce. He has become one of the faces for the city of Pittsburgh and he keeps the fans happy. He gives back to the police and fire departments because they are the true heroes of the city so he knows if he helps them, he can help out everyone else in the city all at once.
To learn more about the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, visit http://bigben7.com/the-ben-roethlisberger-foundation/