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Sports Then and Now

Big Ben Roethlisberger: Life After Football 1

Posted on March 02, 2024 by John Harris
Big Ben Roethlisberger retired from the NFL following the 2021 season.

Ben Roethlisberger retired from the NFL after the 2021 season, closing the book on one of the most successful careers by a Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback — or any QB, for that matter. But who is Ben Roethlisberger, and what is the larger-than-life “Big Ben” up to since hanging up his cleats?

“A boy from Findlay, Ohio, with NFL dreams, developed in Oxford at Miami University. Blessed with the honor of 18 seasons as a Pittsburgh Steeler and a place to call home. The journey has been exhilarating, defined by relationships and fueled by a spirit of competition,” he said in 2022.

“Yet the time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats, and continue to be all I can be to my wife and children. I retire from football a truly grateful man.”

Who Is Ben Roethlisberger?

Roethlisberger spent his entire 18-season NFL career with the Steelers, building a resume worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for which he’ll be eligible — some say a shoo-in — in 2027. He was drafted 11th overall in the first round in 2004, and made an immediate impact by winning the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Known for his competitiveness, toughness, and uncanny scrambling ability, Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh to three Super Bowl appearances, winning twice. He departed holding virtually every major passing record in Steelers history. Beyond the numbers, Big Ben defined an era of smashmouth AFC North football. His pump fakes, improvised plays, and come-from-behind heroics symbolized the gritty spirit of Steelers football.

Roethlisberger announced his retirement in January 2022 after Pittsburgh’s early playoff exit, going out on his own terms after a career filled with injuries and triumphs.

Roethlisberger walked away ranked eighth all-time in passing yards and 10th in touchdown passes. The six-time Pro Bowler got to go out in front of a cheering Steelers home crowd in Week 17, with Pittsburgh still in the playoff hunt. It was a fitting end to a storied career defined by clutch play in crunch-time moments.

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Favre Streak Ends, But Legend Grows 0

Posted on December 14, 2010 by Dean Hybl

After 297 consecutive NFL starts, Brett Favre watched from the sidelines Monday night.

Brett Favre’s streak of 297 straight NFL starts ended Monday night in Detroit, but ironically, the end of the streak could actually do more to enhance the quarterback’s legacy than if he would have played against the Giants.

Once one of the most admired and beloved players in the NFL, the last three years have not been kind to the veteran signal caller.

The worst thing a player can be labeled in professional sports is selfish or self-centered. With his annual “will he or won’t he” saga, Favre’s indecision has turned many former admirers into critics.

Favre has always been seen as a tough and hard-nosed player who left everything on the field. However, over the last several years many have believed that Favre was more concerned about playing to preserve and grow his own legacy than to actually help his team win.

After three straight off-seasons of wondering if Favre would return, the Green Bay Packers finally gave up and moved on with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback.

During his single season with the New York Jets, Favre started out strong, but injuries late in the season reduced his effectiveness and cost the Jets a playoff spot. Favre’s eventual admission that he probably shouldn’t have been playing was seen by many as just another example of how the quarterback put his own records over the success of his team.

Favre engineered his exit from New York and after waiting until the end of training camp joined the Minnesota Vikings for the 2009 season.

While the mainstream media did everything they could to hype the 40-year-old Favre’s amazing season, he and the Vikings were met by a mix of indifference and ridicule by many fans who were conflicted as to whether to root for or against Favre. Read the rest of this entry →

The Surprising Fall of Matt Leinart 1

Posted on September 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Matt Leinart was never able to emerge as the clear starter in Arizona.

NFL history is full of quarterbacks who were high draft picks or Heisman Trophy winners but were unable to make it in professional football. However, I remain surprised that it appears likely that the Matt Leinart’s name will soon be added to that list.

Many of the highly regarded college quarterbacks in recent history who didn’t cut it as NFL starters really can’t be seen as surprises. Some, like Andre Ware, David Klingler, Joey Harrington and Ty Detmer were products of the system they ran while in college. Others, such as Akili Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Dan McGwire and Ryan Leaf had only limited college experience and were drafted more based on potential than on-the-field success.

Matt Leinart was not only the quarterback of two national championship squads and the winner of a Heisman Trophy, but he had the talent that would have likely made him the first pick in the NFL Draft had he left following his junior season in 2004.

Instead he returned to lead the USC Trojans to within a whisker of a third national title and then was selected with the 10th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. At the time, his drop to the tenth spot was attributed to the strength of that draft, but in reality it may have been the first sign of things to come.

Then Arizona coach Dennis Green was thrilled to have Leinart fall to the Cardinals and put him in the starting lineup for 11 games during his rookie season as a replacement for former league MVP Kurt Warner. As it turns out, that was the highlight of Leinart’s four years with the Cardinals. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Is Paying For Potential Instead Of Production 1

Posted on July 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Before even taking an NFL snap, Sam Bradford has signed a contract that guarantees him $50 million.

If you weren’t previously convinced that something needs to be done regarding the exorbitant guaranteed money that is being handed out to NFL rookies then hopefully the $50 million in guaranteed money the St. Louis Rams agreed to pay Sam Bradford might persuade you.

In case you might have forgotten, this is the same Sam Bradford who lost in the BCS Championship Game with Oklahoma in January 2009 and then nine months later suffered a serious shoulder injury that eventually needed surgery.

This is also the same Sam Bradford who has yet to throw a pass in an NFL game.

Yet, he now has signed a contract that dwarfs the current deals of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, a pair of all-time greats who are getting nowhere in their attempts to sign new long-term contracts. Read the rest of this entry →

Times Have Changed For Rookie Quarterbacks 1

Posted on September 17, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Matt Stafford passed for 205 yards and three interceptions in his debut for the Detroit Lions.

Matt Stafford passed for 205 yards and three interceptions in his debut for the Detroit Lions.

There was a time in the not so distant past when the biggest things a rookie NFL quarterback had to worry about on game day were wearing a cool baseball cap and keeping track of his clipboard.

Current rookies Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez are just the latest reminder that times have certainly changed, at least for top draft picks.

Instead of carrying clipboards and wearing baseball caps, highly drafted rookie quarterbacks today don’t usually have to wait long before getting a chance to show their stuff.

In the last two seasons, four of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round started the opening game of their rookie season. Only Josh Freeman of Tampa Bay, who was the third quarterback for the Bucs in their 2009 opener against Dallas, wasn’t under center from the beginning of his career.
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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Dale Murphy: A Hallmark of Excellence
      July 2, 2024 | 1:53 pm
      Dale Murphy

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a standout player of the 1980s, remembered not only for his exceptional skills on the field but also for his exemplary character and sportsmanship.

      Born on March 12, 1956, in Portland, Oregon, Dale Murphy’s journey to becoming one of the most respected players in baseball history is a testament to dedication, perseverance, and a genuine love for the game.

      Early Career and Rise to Prominence

      Murphy was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1974 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut on September 13, 1976, at the age of 20. Initially a catcher, Murphy transitioned to the outfield early in his career, where he would solidify his place as one of the premier outfielders of his era.

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