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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Time Ticking On Big Ben

Time Ticking On Big Ben
By J [The Gambler] Gamble for Football Reporters Online

Since Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were all taken in the first-round of the 2004 NFL draft -- and then made auspicious splashes as young QB's in the league -- naturally the ongoing debate  has been about which team picked the best QB.  Three guys were just vehemently arguing the point  in the pizza shop by my crib about a month ago.
They mentioned how every year one QB seems to nudge ahead, only to be outdone by the other the following season.  All three quarterbacks have been All Pro’s and are considered Franchise pigskin slingers.

Big Ben has two chips. He came out of the shoot with a big-body and big arm, and an awesome defensive-minded , veteran team behind him. He managed the Pittsburgh offense to a Super Bowl  [the youngest to do so at age 23]. Then he followed that up later with another championship and a more refined passing game. Manning has one, playing on the biggest stage in the football world, under the intense media pressure and bright lights of New York. He completed one of the most improbable passes in NFL Super Bowl  history in defeating the previously undefeated and heavily -favored Patriots. Peyton’s little brother has carved quite a niche for himself as a clutch QB, known for dramatic 4th-quarter drives.

Rivers became a starter in 2006 and has come very close to achieving greatness himself.  He seemed as if he was on his way to his first Super Bowl this past season, before being rocked by an over-achieving Jets squad hungry for playoff blood. Despite being traded away by the  Giants for Manning, Rivers is considered by many to be the most talented of the three.  But his lack of chips leaves him at No. 3 in most people’s debates.

All the guys at Vinnie’s pizza shop had valid points, and it used to be one of the most frequent and  provocative arguments in sports...  Notice I say used to.  As of a few days ago, Eli Manning has ascended to the top of that QB class without throwing a pass or even suiting up.  Roethlisberger  was implicated in his second  sexual assault accusation in two years. The first one was in July 2009 in Nevada, in his hotel,  during a celebrity golf tournament. Kobe Style.  The second was on March 5 in a Georgia nightclub. Pac Man Jones style.

A civil suit is pending in the first case. This time he needed to retain a hot-shot lawyer  --  Ed Garland, of T.I. arsenal  and Ray Lewis murder-trial  fame – hinting that these charges of  sexually assaulting a 20-year-old girl, may become criminal, and he won’t be able to breeze through by making it rain ones. Pac Man Jones style.

 While Big Ben has been a superstar force on the field for the Steelers, he has fizzled as a role model and the face of the NFL’s most distinguished franchise. Regardless of guilt, the mere accusations and patterns of aggressive sexual behavior sheds a negative light on The Steelers franchise and brings uneccessary negative publicity to a legendary and classy Rooney family.
With the blink of an eye, the smoke began to clear on which team made the best long-term choice for QB.  While Big Ben has managed to nearly kill himself , mutilating his bike and his brain by crashing without a helmet , which obviously led to his brain freeze in these two sex suits against him, Eli has been the Pilar of the community. He is happily married and does not indulge in juvenile, risky and borderline illegal behavior. He is a good character guy  and someone your kids can pattern their lifestyle after.   

 So the people who argued Manning and Big Ben were running neck and neck, should have Eli sitting comfortably atop that QB class now. At least until Rivers wins a chip or this too passes for Ben “Teflon” Roethlisberger.
 This latest fiasco has got to sicken the city of Pittsburgh. You pay Big Ben the mega bucks to be a leader and represent your team with class and dignity on and off the field. Many of us have to learn that the hard way. Being guilty isn’t always about whether or not you did it. Sometimes you can get caught up in bull because your pattern of behavior was just abrasive, stupid and immature.

And as Michael Vick sadly learned, being a franchise QB requires on and off the field discipline. As a player you trade the ability to do things normal people do for the opportunity to pop pads and make millions.  
Eli Manning doesn’t have the arm or fortunate Sunday weather  conditions  that Rivers  enjoys. He doesn’t have as many Super Bowls or TD passes as Big Ben. He’s not even the best QB in his family. But he is the epitome of a  complete “Franchise Quarterback”.  And that’s not up for debate.


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