“I’m willing to do whatever the team asks of me, whether that’s play right away or sit. I want to talk to Tommy and Charlie a little bit about what’s going on. Whatever they’re willing to help me with, I’m going to take it all in.” — Ben, April 26, 2004.
From CBS Sports, “Roethlisberger: Manning, Rivers have nothing on me”:
Ben Roethlisberger arrived Monday in Pittsburgh as the No. 3 quarterback in the NFL draft and, for now, no better than No. 3 on the Steelers’ depth chart.
Roethlisberger, only the second quarterback drafted in the first round by Pittsburgh in 33 years, didn’t predict he would beat out incumbent Tommy Maddox or backup Charlie Batch immediately. He didn’t promise to have better rookie-year statistics than Mississippi’s Eli Manning or North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers, the two quarterbacks drafted ahead of him.
“Eli’s been getting a lot of hype leading up to this, but I said coming in it all boils down to this: it’s just football,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, just get on the field and start playing.”
Roethlisberger didn’t criticize Rivers or Manning, but said, “I think I bring a little more athleticism than both of them, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
“Everyone seems to think they have better systems, better teams they played on in college, were born into a football family,” said Roethlisberger, who played at Miami of Ohio. “Once I get the field, my will to win is much greater than both of them.”
Roethlisberger has already created more buzz in Pittsburgh than any Steelers quarterback draft pick since Terry Bradshaw in 1970. The Steelers haven’t yet started selling Roethlisberger’s No. 7 jersey, but no doubt they will quickly order up a batch to satisfy fan demand.
They might want to order a few in extra-extra large, too; obviously not accustomed to having 6-foot-4½, 240-pound quarterbacks, the Steelers badly underestimated Roethlisberger’s size and gave him a much-too-small uniform for Monday’s photo shoot.
You can read more here.
“If one of those backs would have slid, we were not going to hesitate to grab him. It’s just like the quarterback position. We felt good about that, but Roethlisberger slid and we got him, and we bettered our football team.” — Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, on selecting a quarterback over a running back – from an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 26, 2004.
From Don Banks’ column, “Draft Day winners & losers”, SI:
Pittsburgh Steelers: Thanks to the Chargers-Giants, Manning-Rivers blockbuster, and the Raiders’ willingness to go for Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery at No. 2, the Steelers were lucky enough to sit tight at No. 11 and still get the quarterback of the future that they so desperately craved. True, the Steelers would have rather had Rivers than Roethlisberger, believing the N.C. State star is more ready to play right away, but the stars still aligned in a nice way for Pittsburgh. Once upon a time, a team would draft a franchise quarterback prospect even if it had a quality starter on the roster. But not in the cap era, it’s too costly. So with the teams in the No. 5 through 10 slots all set at quarterback, the Steelers benefited from Roethlisberger’s tumble.
You can read the rest of Mr. Banks’ column here.
“We’re not looking to rebuild this year. We’re looking to win this division and get into the playoffs and win a championship.” — Steelers Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert, from an interview in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 26, 2004.
Not everyone back then was on the Big Ben Welcome Wagon….
From Mike Prisuta’s column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the day after the Draft:
In the days leading up to Saturday and in the minutes immediately following the No. 11 overall selection, Bill Cowher kept insisting the Steelers didn’t expect to be drafting this high very often.
But in the wake of taking Ben Roethlisberger in the first round, you have to wonder if picking in the vicinity of the top 10 isn’t about to become habit forming.
Same time next year, fellas?
Coming off a six-win season and having missed the playoffs in four of the last six years, the Steelers are in a rebuilding mode rather than a retooling one.
Roethlisberger, from Miami (Ohio) and second-round pick Ricardo Colclough, from Tusculum College, are upside guys who won’t have much of an immediate impact provided they make any at all as rookies.
You’d expect more from No. 11 overall.
Then again, the Steelers should have expected more than they got from Troy Polamalu at No. 16 overall a season ago.
Recent history suggests Roethlisberger is as likely to turn into the next Tim Couch as he is the next Bledsoe, but the Steelers decided to swing for the fences, anyway, rather than to continue simply moving the runners.
Mr. Prisuta’s column is no longer available online.
“I’m not Tommy Maddox; can’t be Tommy Maddox. I’m just going to do the best I can.” — Ben, to reporters after his first NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens, September 19, 2004.
You can enjoy a Draft and First Year highlights video here.
You can re-live Draft Day, 2004 below!