While there is little debate amongst those in the football world that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is a very good (or great) quarterback, there remains much discussion as to whether ‘Big Ben’ is Hall of Fame worthy.
Of course, Roethlisberger’s full career story has yet to be written, although Steelers fans certainly hope that the 32 year-old can add another Super Bowl or two to the Steelers trophy case.
But let’s assume for a moment that the Steelers DON’T win another Super Bowl during Roethlisberger’s tenure and that he plays another five seasons or so at his current level.
Would that be enough to get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Or does he need another Super Bowl title to guarantee a bust in Canton?
When reflecting on Roethlisberger’s career and impact as a starting quarterback, it’s best to go back to the beginning.
The Steelers drafted the 6-5 quarterback out of Miami (Ohio) in 2004, with the intention of grooming him for a season or two behind then starter Tommy Maddox. Unfortunately for Maddox (but fortunately for the Steelers, it turns out), he was injured in Pittsburgh’s Week 2 loss against the Ravens in Baltimore and replaced by Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers would never look back, as the Big Ben era in Pittsburgh officially began. He would go on to shatter several rookie quarterback records in leading the team to a 15-1 record, including: most regular-season wins to start a career (13), highest regular season passer rating (98.1) and highest regular season completion percentage (66.4%).
Although the Steelers fell short of the Super Bowl that season when they lost to the New England Patriots at home in the AFC Championship Game, Roethlisberger took home NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the first quarterback to win the award in 34 years (Dennis Shaw, Buffalo Bills).
The following season, Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl (23), when he led the black and gold to their fifth title. He would lead the Steelers to another Super Bowl victory in 2008 and another Super Bowl appearance in 2010 (the Steelers third Super Bowl appearance in just six seasons).
Through his ten-year career in the NFL, Roethlisberger has managed to put together some impressive personal numbers to go along with his team’s success. His 95 career wins are good for 17th all time, and he should be nipping at former Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw’s heels for 10th place by the end of the upcoming season (107 wins). Roethlisberger’s career wins total ranks fourth amongst active QB’s, behind only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. His .669 regular season winning percentage is the sixth highest of all-time and he is even more impressive in the playoffs, boasting a .714 percentage.
It doesn’t stop there. Roethlisberger has been one of the most efficient signal callers in league history. He currently ranks 9th all-time in NFL passer rating (92.6), 9th in yards per attempt (7.85) and 12th in completion percentage (63.3%) amongst quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 starts. Big Ben is also the Steelers record holder for most career passing yards (34,105), most career passing touchdowns (219), most passing yards in a game (503), most passing touchdowns in a game (5), shared with Bradshaw and Mark Malone) and most touchdowns in a season (32).
When comparing Roethlisberger to quarterbacks currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he stacks up favorably. Former Oakland Raider Jim Plunkett is the only quarterback with multiple Super Bowl victories that isn’t enshrined in Canton. All quarterbacks with more than 100 wins are in the Hall of Fame – with the exception of Brady, Manning, Brees and Brett Favre – whom are all virtual locks for induction.
Another Super Bowl title (perhaps to go along with a Super Bowl MVP), would vault Roethlisberger to the front of the line, but is not necessary for Hall of Fame induction. The next steps in Roethlisberger strengthening his Hall of Fame resume appear to be reaching 100 career wins, 40,000 career passing yards and 250 career passing touchdowns – all of which should be easily obtainable for him as early as two seasons from now.
The question shouldn’t be whether or not Roethlisberger needs another Super Bowl title to get into the Hall of Fame – he should be a lock – but whether or not another Super Bowl would make him a first ballot inductee.
Ben Roethlisberger is a Hall of Famer, period.