Roethlisberger Grew Up Idolizing Elway; Now He Plays Against Him

Ben Roethlisberger wears his #7 jersey for one clear reason: John Elway. That was the quarterback he grew up watching. On Sunday, for the fifth time, he’ll see him on the other sideline. Elway, of course, is the Denver Broncos’ general manager, in that role since 2011.

And funny enough, Roethlisberger’s comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars moved him ahead of Elway in career comebacks. It’s only fitting he finished it off with a dive across the end zone, in very Elway-like fashion.

“That is why I wear seven because of him,” Roethlisberger told the media Wednesday, “a hero of mine growing up. Anytime you get into the record books it’s humbling. It means a lot when your name is as close as his, and then when you pass him, it’s just an honor.”

Roethlisberger will be hoping for better success against the Broncos this time around. Since Elway took control, Roethlisberger is just 1-3 against Denver, including a pair of playoff losses. His biggest win in Denver came way back in 2005, a 34-17 victory in the AFC Championship on the Steelers’ Super Bowl winning run. Big Ben was terrific that afternoon, opening the game through the air, and throwing a pair of first half touchdown passes to take control of the game.

“The championship game is a special one,” he said when asked about it. “Obviously losing the one there means a lot, too. That championship game was unbelievable.”

Even without the playoff implications, it’ll still be a special game for Roethlisberger, who highlighted how big of a moment it is to play in Denver. And versus Elway.

“That’s a special place because of the history, because of him, and we’ve had some history there as well. Any time you go into a place that had a legendary type quarterback that I grew up watching, it’s kind of special.”

Roethlisberger said he’s talked to Elway over the years. On the field, he believes they have similar play styles.

“I joked that he could throw a ball through a car wash and it wouldn’t get wet. He just has such a big arm, not really a runner, but would run. I think that’s kind of been my game, I am not a running quarterback, but you aren’t afraid to run and get the yards when you need to. So, those kinds of things just molded my game. I wish my arm was as strong as his though.”

Like Elway, Roethlisberger is etching himself into the history books. He currently sits in 7th place in passing yards and tied for 7th in touchdowns, dueling Eli Manning in both categories. One of the only categories he hasn’t surpassed Elway in yet is attempts. He’ll need another 342 of those to do that.

And one day soon, though hopefully not too soon, Roethlisberger and Elway will meet again, when Big Ben is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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