With Marino as mentor, Roethlisberger sees himself, Steelers being better
2005 STEELERS TRAINING CAMP DAY 2: Running mate
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dan Marino is on his way to Canton, Ohio, to crown his football career while Ben Roethlisberger pulled into St. Vincent College in Latrobe to start cranking up Year 2 by placing a phone call to his new pal.
"Dan and I have actually spent a lot of time together in the last month," Roethlisberger said, "talking about two, three times in the month, hanging out, spending time picking his brain."
Roethlisberger, who broke Marino's 1983 NFL rookie records last season with the Steelers, said Marino has "become kind of a mentor and a father to me" and he has become friends with his sons.
The comparisons between the Hall of Fame quarterback from Pittsburgh and the newest sensation at quarterback in Pittsburgh begin anew as Roethlisberger and the Steelers opened training camp after their 15-win regular season in 2004. Marino's second NFL season became one of the most productive of any quarterback in history, but his Miami Dolphins fell short, losing Super Bowl XIX to the 49ers. It would be Marino's only appearance in the Super Bowl in 17 years.
"I do know what he did," in 1984, Roethlisberger said. "But I also know how his career ended."
Roethlisberger's implied message: His statistics and even his team's regular-season record do not matter as much as winning a championship.
"People have to realize that we -- myself and the team -- can be better and not have as good a record," Roethlisberger said regarding their 15-1 regular season that once again ended in disappointment in the AFC title game at Heinz Field. "We can be a better football team, I can be a better quarterback and not win 15 games.
"We just have to make sure people understand that and realize that. We can still win a Super Bowl and not win 15 games."
He will have to do it without Plaxico Burress, the receiver he asked the team to keep in free agency, and he will have to do it, at the moment, without Hines Ward, who remains a holdout.
"Obviously it's going to affect the offense with him being such an integral part of the offense," Roethlisberger said. "But just like in the season when you need a big play and need someone to come through, you can count on Hines, and I know that when we need him, we'll be able to count on Hines again. He'll be here."
Roethlisberger was a leader among his group in yesterday's annual team running test at St. Vincent, where every player runs a series of 40-yard dashes. Without yet throwing a pass in training camp he managed to please his coach.
"I was impressed," Bill Cowher said. "He came in and he's a little bit heavier but he's a little faster. He's worked out this offseason. He's impressive.
"A year ago he was calling the plays, I don't even know if he looked up in the huddle. ... I'm not sure he even knew who was in the huddle a year ago because he was down there reading his wrist band the whole time.
"I think the comfort level he's at, to me, is the most important thing and I think it's very evident."
Today, Roethlisberger will start throwing to his new starting receivers, Cedrick Wilson and Antwaan Randle El.
"If anything, this will help us get better timing with those guys as well," Roethlisberger said.
Said Cowher, "Ben's going to go through his progressions. He's going to throw to who's open."
Good to hear Marino is being somewhat of a mentor to Roethlisberger. All the news is sounding very promising for our Steelers.