Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is winding down his 18th and final season in the NFL. All of them have come with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And that’s only because 10 other teams first decided to pass on him, although two of them ended up drafting other franchise quarterbacks.
The most glaring decision was from the Cleveland Browns, a perennial loser still ‘new’ to the league since their return, who decided that Roethlisberger would not work for them. They instead drafted tight end Kellen Winslow, who had played for then-Cleveland-head-coach Butch Davis at Miami.
It’s been long debated why the Browns passed on Roethlisberger, a decision that they’ve obviously lived regretting for many years now. Recently, Cleveland sportswriter Mary Kay Cabot on 93.7 The Fan Morning Show to discuss the topic and if they were even really discussing drafting him
“I don’t really think so”, she said, noting that she had spoken to Terry Robiskie, their then-offensive coordinator who would become interim head coach. “He said they went to work out Ben, did a private workout with him, and they came to the conclusion that he had heavy legs, and that he wasn’t going to be able to run and be mobile enough to get away from the pressure that the Browns were going to get because they did not have a good offensive line”.
If that sounds stupid, that’s only because it is. While you would like to have an offensive line in place first before you get your quarterback, you don’t pass on the opportunity to get the quarterback when it falls into your lap, because that doesn’t happen too often.
“They did not think they would survive too long behind their offensive line. Which of course is short-sighted, because you cannot evaluate a quarterback for what your current offensive line looks like”, Cabot said. “They did not give much thought to drafting Ben”.
It all worked out in the end, though, at least for the Steelers and Roethlisberger, who got a couple of championships out of the deal. And a good story to tell, which is now being passed down to the next generation of Roethlisbergers, from Big Ben to Little Ben, Ben Jr., his eldest son, who just heard the story for the first time this past week.
“It was just me and my son, Ben Jr., and Ashley [his wife] sitting at the table. He’s old enough now to understand what’s going on and what it means to get passed over in the draft”, he said on the DVE Morning Show yesterday.
“My wife is telling the story of how daddy beat the Browns quite a few times, he likes to beat them because they passed on him. And he said, ‘Dad, why would they pass on you?’. ‘I don’t know, son, but I’m glad they did’”.
As are we all, I’m sure, even those who have long felt it was time to move on. It still netted them two more Super Bowls that they probably wouldn’t have had, otherwise, even as we look forward to the next chapter in the Steelers legacy.