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Thread: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

  1. #1
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    Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    Well, as my first topic post over here, I dragged up this article from the past (July 2004) for a bit of "nostalgia"... Interesting to see the opinions of Ben as he began his journey...

    Talented QB Better be Ready For Pressure.

    It’s a good operation out there ... a great place to play football.”
    — Paul Tagliabue to Ben Roethlisberger, April 24
    * * *
    “I hope that along with that big body, he also brings some thick skin.”
    — Mark Malone about Ben Roethlisberger, April 25

    By BOB LABRIOLA
    Editor

    It’s different. It just is.

    Ben Roethlisberger simultaneously is living a dream and trying to make the most difficult adjustment of his life. His dream of being an NFL quarterback became a reality on the first day of the NFL draft, and he is entering the league with all of the pomp that comes with being a first-round choice.

    But there’s a lot more to it, and only part of that has to do with mastering the intricacies of the pro game. Part of it has to do with geography, because being an NFL quarterback
    in Pittsburgh has a job description unto itself.

    “Given Pittsburgh’s background, both in terms of winning Super Bowls and also it being a Rust Belt city with a blue-collar work ethic, people demand that their football teams be great ... and it starts with the quarterback,” said Mark Malone. “You don’t have to be the
    best quarterback in the NationalFootball League to win a Super Bowl. We all understand that, but you have to be able to do the things necessary not to lose football games, and win some close games.”

    Malone is uniquely qualified to speak on this issue, because he was a hot-shot college quarterback who was drafted in the first round by the Steelers. In his role as a play-byplay announcer on ESPN’s college football telecasts, he saw Roethlisberger play for Miami University. And as a guy who followed Terry Bradshaw under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he knows that what he faced here was different than what he faced when he played for the San Diego Chargers and the New York Jets.

    “This is exactly how it’s going to go,” said Malone, now the sports anchor for WBBM-TV in Chicago. “I can remember when I was drafted in 1980 as the first quarterback picked in the first round by the Steelers since Bradshaw in 1970, and the town welcomed me with open arms. I was the golden boy. Then in 1984 we went to the AFC Championship Game, and I was really the golden boy. Then we had a couple of tough years, and I went
    from the golden boy to living in the outhouse. That’s just the way it is in the NFL.”

    And especially so in Pittsburgh. Today, Bradshaw is a living legend in this town, but not even four Lombardi trophies and two Super Bowl MVP awards immunized him from the ire of the citizenry whenever his play was judged to be substandard.

    “I saw it from both ends,” said Malone. “I watched from the sidelines when Terry Bradshaw had the crowd at Three Rivers Stadium cheer when he got hurt and had to
    leave a game. That’s just the way it’s going to be, and Ben has to understand that he can’t take it personally. He needs to understand that it’s a job, he has a job to do and he’s going to be judged solely on his performance. If they win, he’s going to be accepted. If the Steelers don’t win with him at the helm, he’s not going to be accepted.
    And it’s as cut-and-dried as that.”

    If Bradshaw could get booed in Pittsburgh, anyone can, and while Malone advises Roethlisberger not to take it personally he also understands that is easier said than done.

    Malone was subjected to derisive chants, tasteless signs; one nut crashed a gate at an empty Three Rivers Stadium and drove his car up the ramps until he wrecked into a
    concession stand to leave a mess of nacho cheese sauce, and when he was arrested he told police he did it because Malone’s play made him crazy.

    Even with that, it’s still arguable whether Malone even got the most abuse. Cliff Stoudt was pelted with snowballs when he returned to Pittsburgh as a USFL quarterback; Bubby Brister was mocked; Neil O’Donnell was blamed for losing Super Bowl XXX; and Kordell
    Stewart was vilified. Welcome to Pittsburgh, Ben.

    “You hear athletes say they don’t hear the crowd, or read the newspapers, or take it personally, but we’re all human beings with egos,” said Malone. “We all want to be patted
    on the butt and told we’re doing a great job, and so when people jump down your throat — whether it’s being booed by 50,000 people in a stadium or being ripped in the
    media — it’s tough to ignore that.

    “It’s tough to say that it doesn’t bother you. As a professional, you try to leave it at the door and do your job. To say it doesn’t affect you whatsoever is just not telling the
    truth.”


    IN BEN’S WORDS:
    On how he compares to Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, both of whom were drafted before
    him:

    “Everyone seems to think they have better systems, they played against better teams, have been born in a football family. I feel that once I get on the field, my will to win is much greater than both of them. I don’t know theirs, but I know mine. I think I bring a little more athleticism than both of them, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

    On being drafted by the Steelers:
    “It’s such a storied tradition here. Great players have come through here, and they have had great teams. That’s why it’s such an honor to come here and try to carry on the tradition, and hopefully get another trophy case with some more Super Bowl trophies in it.”

    On his immediate expectations for himself:
    “I’m willing to do whatever the team asks of me. I want to talk to Tommy (Maddox) and Charlie (Batch) and absorb any knowledge I can from them. Whatever they are willing to help me with, I’m going to take it all in because I want to be the best I can be and I’m going to need those guys to help me, hopefully as much as I can help them by competing.”

  2. #2
    Hall of Famer AngryAsian's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    Ben will have even greater numbers this year. I think his QB rating will be much higher. The Arians system should be more integrated into his brain and thus becoming more reflexive in terms of execution. We don't need to mention the increase in talent this year with regards to his weaponry. The X-Factor in all this, that will have all the nay-sayers screaming for blood will be the play of Ben's O-Line. Zeirline better address the issues that plagued us last year. I'm concerned about the depth in that O-line and hope that with Hartwig, we'll have a better anchor, because Mahan was just a boil on the ass of progress, last year. I'm optimistic, but I always am. I'm a fan of a great franchise and we added some really great players this year. I like our team getting younger. Next year's draft will have to address our D-line.

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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    Can I bring up that I don't think Arians can figure a plan to fight out of a paper bag?!... I agree with alot of your sentiment AS, but I don't personally think it as much "figuring Arians' offense" for Ben than getting past it... The O-line will be an issue, but Hartwig will be an improvement in the middle... Our D-line worries me because of age/depth.... But I'll stop for now and just enjoy.

  4. #4
    Hall of Famer AngryAsian's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler
    Can I bring up that I don't think Arians can figure a plan to fight out of a paper bag?!... I agree with alot of your sentiment AS, but I don't personally think it as much "figuring Arians' offense" for Ben than getting past it... The O-line will be an issue, but Hartwig will be an improvement in the middle... Our D-line worries me because of age/depth.... But I'll stop for now and just enjoy.


    I have the same reservations as you, but I think that might work out in Ben's Advantage. Manning seems to be running the offensive show in Indy. They have an OC... but as prolific as that offense has been over the past couple of seasons, can you name this OC? I think that this bond that Ben has forged with Arians could yield big dividends for him. The offensive side of the ball is getting younger and more talented, Ben is really turning out to be the nexxus of this offense.... why be an integral part of the play making. Ben knows his strengths and is should be aware of the talent pool at his disposal. Having Arians there to help him draw up the plays could be beneficial. Manning calls his own plays.... I think this is where Ben needs to evolve his role as the franchise qb of this team. Arians doesn't need to be spectacular... he needs to be functional with an open mind. I personally would rather have Tomlin become more involved this year.... and maybe he will be.

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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    Quote Originally Posted by asiansteel
    [ Arians doesn't need to be spectacular... he needs to be functional with an open mind.
    ... And that's my concern.

  6. #6
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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    I personally like what Arians did in opening up the offense last year. Granted it wasn't done the way he stated it would be like with TE sets and all or maybe that was smoke and mirrors. I too was annoyed with some of his playcalling last year and hope that as Ben grows into this offense Arians will also grow into his own offensive play calling. Ben stat's and Willie's stats leave some hope that we can do just fine in his system. Also I just finished watching how he butt humped our defense when he was the Dirty Dookie's OC.
    ours is not to wonder why just invert and multiply...

  7. #7
    Pro Bowler calmkiller's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    I had no problems with what arians did for us last year. Many people gave him to much **** imo
    LETS GO MOUNTAINEERS!
    Here We Go Steelers!


    Draft 2.0

    1. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
    2. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
    3. Kareem Martin, DE, UNC
    4. Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
    5a. Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
    5b. Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
    6a. Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
    6b. Glen Stanley, OLB, Albany St
    7. Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin

  8. #8
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    Re: Flashback: Drafting Ben in '04

    Quote Originally Posted by calmkiller
    I had no problems with what arians did for us last year. Many people gave him to much bad word imo
    I'm definitely not the "bashing type" as most of you know... But I just think he (Arians) either refused/could not change his plan during the games to compensate for changes the opponent made. I can think of at least three or four instances where we heard him say after the game; "this won't happen again..." and it did. ... Now with that said, I think we have a strong/talented enough offense (but a questionable line) to overcome this shortcoming... Basically, we have an OC that is "1st-round" playoff quality only. But that is just my humble opinion.

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