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Old 08-25-2006, 03:18 AM   #1
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Default Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

Happy, grateful Big Ben sets high standards, goals
Friday, August 25, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ben Roethlisberger lollygags through the Saint Vincent College campus, often with an iPod attached to his repaired head, in no rush to get to lunch, nor to return to the dorm or the locker room or the practice field.

That's deceptive because this 24-year-old is in a rush to go where no quarterback has ever gone, even if he already has been there.

"I don't talk about my goals, but they are cranked up a little bit," Roethlisberger said as he prepared for the Steelers' third exhibition game at 8 p.m. today in Philadelphia. "I got a little ahead of schedule by winning a Super Bowl."

Just a tad. It wasn't enough that he became the first quarterback to have a 13-0 record as a starter and that he did it as a rookie. He followed by becoming the youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 23. No quarterback in the game's history had such success in his first two years as a pro.

What's left? Survive a near deadly motorcycle accident and go on to win a second Super Bowl eight months later?

"I hope a lot's left," Roethlisberger said, pausing in the final days of training camp in Latrobe. "I would love to accomplish a lot. I would love to get more rings than any other quarterback in the history of the league. I'd love to be the greatest to ever play the game. That's an awesome goal."

They play only one major in pro football, yet Roethlisberger has a chance to become his sport's Tiger Woods. He's only 24 and he's 1 for 2, yet he also has a long way to go. Terry Bradshaw won his first Super Bowl in his fifth season. He won his fourth in his 11th season. He retired after his 16th without appearing in another. Two quarterbacks each won four Super Bowls: Bradshaw and Joe Montana, both with Pittsburgh connections.

Roethlisberger wants to outdo both. Kordell Stewart once said such things, too, topping it with his infamous prediction that he was headed for the Hall of Fame. But Roethlisberger can at least back up such goals by having already achieved some.

"My expectations are definitely high," he said. "For some reason -- heaven forbid -- I lost two or three games in a row, people are going to forget everything good that we've done, that I've done. But I won't."

Never mind lose two or three in a row, he's barely lost that in total since he was thrust into the lineup in the second game of 2004. He's 27-4, counting playoffs, in two seasons.

He wants more, but something occurred this summer that reminded him things can go up in smoke in a matter of seconds.

"You never know," Roethlisberger said, veering back 21/2 months to that ugly June 12, when his motorcycle and head were lying mangled on Second Avenue in Pittsburgh. "Like the accident, every play can be your last play. And that's something I've really come to appreciate, that every play could be my last one."

The accident that broke his jaw, his nose, an orbital bone and some teeth, changed him. He shed 15 pounds, not an unwelcome byproduct but surely not a weight-loss program he recommends. It's not the physical changes that he believes will have the most lasting effect on him.

"I'm thankful to be alive," Roethlisberger said. "Most people who know me say I'm smiling a lot more than I ever did. It seems like I'm having a lot more fun than I've ever had."

He signs one or two of his Nike shoes after many practices and gives them away to fans or sick children. He seemed to have more time to talk to reporters than he did in training camp last year, when the same reporters -- and coaches -- talked about how poorly he was playing. He attributes the new outlook to the accident, not that he's any more easygoing on the playing field.

"People say, 'Why do you still get mad on the field?' Well, I get mad because I set my bar of excellence high. But once I step off the field, if you watch me on the sideline, I'm laughing with Hines [Ward], and we're having a good time."

The accident "really has done that. It has made me realize how lucky I am and how blessed I am to be alive. Every day, I wake up and say thank you for being able to be here. I've always been thankful I've been able to play the game, but now I'm thankful to be alive. To be able to do this again just adds appreciation to it."

Who knows? He might never do it again, but history shows that quarterbacks who get off to fast starts rarely turn bad, and no one else has gotten off to such a fast start. His third training camp has been his best.

"Based on what you saw in the spring, he was making a tremendous amount of strides as far as his understanding of the offense and what he wanted to do," coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. "After everything that happened, you worried about where he would be when he came back into training camp. It seems to me he's back in that same place. He knows what he wants to do, he's paying attention to the details and he's performing on the field."

The motorcycle accident always will be part of his resume, but it's quickly fading as an issue because of his performance. Not that it won't have some lasting effect.

"When I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror, I said holy cow, what just happened?" Roethlisberger said of his time in the hospital. "Football was so far down on the list as important things."

But, as he healed, he also heard people doubting how quickly -- or whether -- he could return to play and remain good at it.

"Once people started saying I couldn't do it," Roethlisberger said, "that motivated me more."
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Old 08-25-2006, 07:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

Damn I love this kid!
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Old 08-25-2006, 07:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

What a great article!!! I, admittedly, was one of those doubters who didn't feel he could heal quickly enough for the start of the season due to the nature and severity of his injuries, but thank God, he proved me wrong! This kid's motivation and determination are second to none and his desire to continue to strive to be the very best he can be is not only highly refreshing, but surely is an inspiration to those who feel they just "can't" do something in life that they want to do, as well as to all of our young athletes just getting started. I believe in Ben's theory because I live it every day - no goal is unreachable in life if you set your sights on it and want it badly enough. Ben isn't even in his "prime" yet - look at all of the excitement and great play we have yet to look forward to!!!
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Old 08-25-2006, 08:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

LMAO....How about if you were the Giants or the Chargers???

DOH!!!!
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Old 08-25-2006, 08:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

What a great attitiude! Very impressive. As awful of an experience as that wreck was, I don't see how anyone could expect a better outcome. It's as much "right thinking" as is possible, IMO.
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Old 08-25-2006, 08:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackNGold203 View Post
LMAO....How about if you were the Giants or the Chargers???

DOH!!!!
I've often thought about that over the last 2 years. I'm quite sure they are kicking themselves in the ass, especially after SB XL - LOL!

Like I've always said, though, as outstanding as Ben is, he's just one wheel in the cog that makes a champion. I don't believe either the Chargers or the Giants had the supporting cast that Ben had last season or will have this season.
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Old 08-25-2006, 08:33 AM   #7
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Thumbs up Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

And this guy can only get better....how scary is that?? (for opponents, that is )
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Old 08-25-2006, 09:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

Quote:
Kordell Stewart once said such things, too, topping it with his infamous prediction that he was headed for the Hall of Fame.
LMAO!
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Old 08-25-2006, 09:28 AM   #9
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

Tell ya what, I was at the preseason game against Minesotta, and he was only in for 1 drive so I got to see him when I was still sober, and he looked very sharp on his drive. He threw one off pass behind the receiver, but other than that, his vision was perfect, made a hell of a pass for a TD, and I'd love to see this offense in a no huddle this season.

IF Pittsburgh gets away from the run heavy offense, and by get away I certainly don't mean to abandon the run completely, but if they allow Roethlisberger to throw like 25 times per game, this team could be ridiculously good.
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Old 08-25-2006, 10:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Grateful Big Ben Sets High Standards

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Originally Posted by Parker39 View Post
Tell ya what, I was at the preseason game against Minesotta, and he was only in for 1 drive so I got to see him when I was still sober, and he looked very sharp on his drive. He threw one off pass behind the receiver, but other than that, his vision was perfect, made a hell of a pass for a TD, and I'd love to see this offense in a no huddle this season.

IF Pittsburgh gets away from the run heavy offense, and by get away I certainly don't mean to abandon the run completely, but if they allow Roethlisberger to throw like 25 times per game, this team could be ridiculously good.
I think the Steelers are going for a little more balance this season, Parker. Ben certainly has the talent and capabilities to throw 25 times per game and with Parker, Haynes and hopefully Duce in the backfield, they'll be able to mix it up early and often. I'm really looking forward to the start of the regular season just to see what Wiz and the O is going to surprise us with next! Makes you feel like a kid in a candy store!
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