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01-02-2010, 10:41 AM
Roethlisberger 'touched' by award
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Thursday December 31, 2009 05:12 PM

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger’s press conference may have been the shortest since the Steelers first named their Most Valuable Player in 1969. “Big Ben” didn’t say a lot. But what he did say spoke volumes of what the award means to him.

“This means more to me than any other award. It tops them all,” the star quarterback said. “It was touching. I had to hold back some emotions when coach said it.”

After practice Thursday afternoon with his team huddled around him, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Roethlisberger had won MVP honors after a morning vote of the players.

“Ben’s had a great year,” tight end Heath Miller said. “I don’t know what all his statistics are. But it has to be one of the best seasons in franchise history. So that’s something Ben should be proud of. I think his value to this team is pretty apparent.”

Roethlisberger is the first QB in Steelers’ history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He’s completed 66.6 percent of his passes (319 of 479) for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 98.9 passer rating.
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He’s also set several other team passing records including single-season completions (319), passing yards in a single game (503) and 300-yard passing games in a season (five).

“Maybe … statistically-wise I think so,” Roethlisberger said when asked if this was his best season. “I never missed a practice, the first time in six years I never missed a practice. I think that has translated on to the football field and my play has been better, whether it’s the no-huddle or understanding offenses better. I think you could say it has been one of my better years.

“But to me, it’s never about those records. To me, it’s about winning games and championships.

“I think there were a lot of guys that were very deserving of this award,” he added. “For them to pick me means a lot and is very touching. It means more than I could probably explain.”

01-02-2010, 10:45 AM
Bires: Big Ben's team MVP overdue
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Thursday December 31, 2009 03:35 PM

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) scrambles out of the pocket to pass in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during the Oct. 25 game against Minnesota. The Steelers won 27-17. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger has come full circle.

Thursday as he prepared for a visit to Miami, the site of his first pro start, he experienced another first. Finally, the franchise quarterback has been named the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player.

Since coming to Pittsburgh in 2004, Roethlisberger has racked up a number of milestones. NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Two-time Super Bowl winner. Pro Bowl participant. Record holder in multiple franchise passing categories.

And now, the team MVP.

It’s an award that proves the majority of his teammates admit what most observers of Steelers football have known for a long time. That’s the fact that Roethlisberger is the most important player on the roster.

In recent days, I had asked a few of the Steelers who they might vote for in the MVP vote. To my surprise, Roethlisberger wasn’t getting universal support within the locker room despite the fact he’s the first QB in franchise history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season.

Granted, most Steelers mentioned Roethlisberger as an MVP candidate. But in the same breath, they threw out names like James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

I had a hard time making sense of that.

Harrison, Hampton, Ward and Holmes have played well this year. There’s no disputing that. But their performances don’t come close to matching Roethlisberger’s.

How could any Steeler have seriously considered Harrison and Hampton after the way the defense has let the team down this year?

Ward and Holmes both have 1,000-yard receiving seasons, but combined they’ve only scored 10 TDs.

Like it or not, coach Mike Tomlin has allowed coordinator Bruce Arians to transform the Steelers’ offense from run first to pass first. The only way that could have been possible is with the right quarterback in place.
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The other day at practice, I asked a colleague how any of the Steelers could vote for anyone but Roethlisberger for team MVP. This media pal of mine immediately answered that Roethlisberger would have a hard time winning.

He’s sensed that some Steelers, especially on the defensive side of the ball, don’t like Roethlisberger. He sensed that maybe there’s some jealousy because Roethlisberger is the highest-paid player in franchise history.

“I would hope not,” tackle Max Starks said when asked if ulterior motives would affect any one’s MVP vote. “It’s based on your performance on the field. I don’t think anyone would pick someone who is not deserving.”

Was that the case two years ago when Harrison was chosen over Roethlisberger?

Sure, Harrison was impressive with 8.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. He even played on some of the special teams.

But Roethlisberger set franchise records with 32 TD passes and a 104.1 pass rating which was second only to Tom Brady. In ’07, Roethlisberger posted ratings of more than 100 seven times, including two perfect scores of 158.3.

Roethlisberger should have been the MVP.

At least that wrong was righted Thursday.

For everything he’s done this year — that amazing 503-yard game two weeks ago against Green Bay included — Roethlisberger has been justly rewarded for a most valuable performance.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbirestimesonline.com.