April 24, 2004: A long day at the NFL Draft for the future Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback…

Ben arrives at Madison Square Garden that Saturday morning with plenty of supporters in his corner – his parents Ken and Brenda, his sister Carlee, his agents Leigh Steinberg and Ryan Tollner, and his college coach, Terry Hoeppner and his wife Jane.

At 11:20 a.m., Ben and four others – Eli Manning, Roy Williams, Robert Gallery, and Kellen Winslow Jr. – are introduced to the crowd.

Green Room waiting –

• 12:25 p.m.: NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announces that the San Diego Chargers have selected Eli Manning with the No. 1 pick. Eli emerges from stage right and is greeted by unwelcoming chants by the Chargers fans in attendance.

• 12:58 p.m.: NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announces that the New York Giants have selected NC State quarterback Philip Rivers with the No. 4 pick. Soon thereafter the trade with the Chargers is announced – Eli Manning is headed to New York, Philip Rivers to San Diego. Both fanbases seem pleased with the outcome.

• 1:57 p.m.: Pittsburgh is on the clock. “We see Ben Roethlisberger on the phone,” ESPN announces for the television audience. Sure enough, it’s Steelers coach Bill Cowher calling to tell Ben the Steelers are going to choose him with the No. 11 pick.

• 2:00 p.m.: NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announces that Ben is indeed headed for Pittsburgh. Ben arrives on stage and dons a Steelers ballcap and holds up a Steelers jersey.

• 2:01 p.m.: The Steelers fans in the crowd begin to chant, “Ben, Ben, Ben….”

• 2:02 p.m.: Just off stage, Ben does a press conference for television reporters and then disappears from the public room to do a few interviews with the Pittsburgh media.

• 2:43 p.m.: Ben emerges from the players’ party room where a press conference with print media is set up. An ESPN media representative announces, “Call from Steelers owner Mr. Rooney…” Ben takes the phone and his first words, “Yes sir, Mr. Rooney…”.

• 2:48 p.m.: After another media conference and a round of short one-on-one interviews that last until close to 3:30 p.m., Ben heads for the door – Steelers jersey still slung over his left shoulder.

(The above time-line was made from a combination of notes, television coverage, and highlights from Draft articles that are no longer available online)

From a Draft Day report that appeared on the Sports Illustrated website later that evening:

If anybody had the right to feel exasperated watching the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers saga unfold Saturday, it was Ben Roethlisberger.

Even after his name finally was called by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 11th overall selection, Roethlisberger had to endure a news conference in which half of the questions were about Manning’s power play to stay out of San Diego.

The other half were thinly veiled insults at the quality of play Roethlisberger faced in the Mid-American Conference, as if he should apologize for having attended Miami of Ohio instead of the other Miami — the one that had six players drafted among the top 21 picks of this draft.

“The attention has been on Eli all week and that’s fine with me,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m gonna let [Manning and Rivers] get all the attention they want right now. When I start playing, that’s when I’m going to be getting the attention.”

All three of these quarterbacks are listed at 6-foot-5, but the 241-pound Roethlisberger said his combination of size and athleticism will allow him to stand out above the other two. That, along with “the leadership I bring, the will to win.”

It’s hard to argue with Roethlisberger’s track record at Miami, where he led the school to a MAC championship and its first bowl victory in 28 years, a 49-28 win over Louisville in the 2003 GMAC Bowl. As a three-year starter, he passed for 10,829 yards and 84 touchdowns.

Also, Roethlisberger had the presence of mind to wear Steelers colors — a black suit with gold tie — to Madison Square Garden for the Draft.

“Yeah, no one knew I was going here. But I knew. I thought I looked good in black and gold,” he said.

You can read the rest of their NFL Draft report here.

And two days later…

From an article that appeared on CBS Sports.com:

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.

He doesn’t expect either situation to last very long.

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.

But he said he lacks nothing Manning and Rivers possess — he dismisses talk the Manning family lineage gives Eli an edge — and is eager to show it. Even if he must wait a little longer to play than Manning does with the Giants or Rivers does with the Chargers.

“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.

Now, they’ve got to find out how Roethlisberger fits into an already crowded quarterback mix. Roethlisberger was diplomatic when discussing playing time, at least for this season.

“I’m willing to do whatever the team asks of me, whether that’s play right away or sit,” he said. “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.”

You can read the full article here.

Hope you enjoyed the “look back”. Wishing you a happy and safe Easter!