The Pittsburgh Steelers have had two legitimate franchise quarterbacks throughout the organization’s storied history. Ben Roethlisberger and Terry Bradshaw both brought multiple championships to the city of Pittsburgh. The two signal-callers accounted for six Super Bowl Championships in their Hall of Fame careers and while the third best quarterback ever is up for discussion, Roethlisberger and Bradshaw are clearly #1 and #2. It seems as if the competitive drive of the two led to a poor relationship ever since the 2004 NFL Draft.
But, who is the best quarterback ever for the Steelers? Fans are quick to label the recently retired Roethlisberger as the greatest ever, but the NFL is incredibly different in the 21st century than it was back in the 1970’s. Four championships beats two and one the greatest stretches in NFL history belongs to the Bradshaw-led teams almost 50 years ago.
1.) Steelers’ Roethlisberger Has The Statistical Numbers
The team’s quarterback of the last 18 seasons is fifth in NFL history with 64,088 passing yards and eighth with 418 touchdown passes. Bradshaw had less than 28,000 career passing yards in his career. This is the first argument for Roethlisberger. He dominates Bradshaw in every statistical category for the most part. The former four-time Super Bowl champion did have less interceptions throughout his career, but played for only 14 seasons.
Very few people take into account the difference in playing styles, coaching strategies and play-calling that the two experienced during their careers. The eras were completely different and one shouldn’t jump to naming Roethlisberger the franchise GOAT without doing his or her due diligence. The numbers don’t mean everything.
2.) Steelers’ Bradshaw Has A Better Championship Pedigree
The main argument for Bradshaw is his perfect 4-0 Super Bowl record. The organization won four titles in the span of six years running the offense. He not only celebrated four championships in the 70’s, but was a Super Bowl MVP twice and has an NFL MVP Award in his trophy case. Those are two things that Roethlisberger does not have. And while Bradshaw played four fewer seasons, he had a better winning percentage overall. He only lost a total of 14 games at home throughout his career.
Super Bowl XIII saw Bradshaw have a better stat line than Roethlisberger ever did in a championship game. He threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns which put the Dallas Cowboys out of reach by the fourth quarter in 1979. He backed up that performance the following year in the big game with another 300+ yard game.
3.) Both Quarterbacks Had Stout Defenses To Back Them Up
Who had the better defenses between the two? All six Super Bowl wins included incredible defensive units that had Hall of Fame caliber players. One can argue that other than Super Bowl XIII in 1979, the other five titles were mainly due to the efforts of the defense. Sure, Roethlisberger led a legendary game-winning drive against the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, but does the team really win that game without James Harrison‘s interception return for a touchdown towards the end of the first half?
The organization has been blessed with two all-time greats that led the offense for a combined 32 seasons. They are in the conversation to be the best two quarterbacks to play for the same franchise in the NFL’s history. Roethlisberger has the numbers, but Bradshaw deserves a lot more credit than he receives due to his performance on the game’s biggest stage. The majority will give the nod to the recently retired team captain, but both have an argument and for different reasons.
The easy answer is Roethlisberger because he is fresh in the minds of Steelers fans everywhere. But, does Bradshaw have an argument? Who is the best quarterback in franchise history? Let us know in the comments below!