Today is one of those days that I circle on my calendar at the beginning of the year. I love the Super Bowl. I love the game, the commercials and the food. I love hanging out with my friends and watching the game. All in all it is a pretty amazing sports experience that in my mind actually lives up to the enormous hype it receives.
This Super Bowl is different than others because 1) I'm not hosting a party and 2) I have a *horse in the race. The horse that I am referring to are the Pittsburgh Steelers and specifically Ben Roethlisberger. Today I will be watching the game at my friend's place with a black #7 jersey on and my cell phone ready for constant game talk with my other Steelers friend in Columbus.
*I almost wrote "dog in the fight" but thought that probably wouldn't be the best thing for the NFL.
Why specifically will I be rooting for Roethlisberger?
Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami University (as did I). He was a redshirt freshmen in the fall of 2001 (I was also a freshmen in 2001 even though the Marketing department didn't need me to redshirt). He was born in the first few days of March (a year later so was I). Being a Miami football fan it shouldn't be a surprise that I went to almost every home game during my 4 years at Miami. By my count I saw him play live in 15 games during his 3 years at Miami. During those years I saw the following things:
- Current Steelers/Roethlisberger backup QB Byron Leftwich caught a touchdown pass against Miami University during Roethlisberger's freshmen year.
- Roethlisberger threw for 525 yards against Northern Illinois and lost. The reason they lost was because Miami's D couldn't stop future NFL star Michael "the Burner" Turner, who finished the game with 222 yards on 20 carries.
- Two Qbs (Josh Cribbs and Charlie Frye) that later played for the Cleveland Browns. Of course the Browns missed out on the one MAC quarterback that might have actually turned around that franchise.
- Roethlisberger threw for 440 yards and 4 tds on a separated shoulder to lead Miami to the MAC title against Bowling Green. Miami fans (myself included) later rushed the field at Doyt-Perry stadium and celebrated the win with the team. The picture below is from the game and just like all of them are taken from yours truly's camera:
Roethlisberger provided so many amazing memories (of course one of the games I missed ended like this) for Redhawk fans. When he entered the 2004 draft there was little doubt that I would follow his career no matter what NFL team drafted him. This was slightly scary since there was a decent chance the dreaded Cleveland Browns would select him. Instead the Browns (being the Browns) selected Kellen Winslow part two. This snub allowed Roethlisberger to fall into the waiting arms of the Steelers. Since that day Roethlisberger hasn't lost to the Browns in the 10 times he has faced them. Since that day Roethlisberger has led to the Steelers to a 15-1 season that ended in the AFC championship game. Since that day Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to two Super Bowls (1 victory and 1 yet to be determined). He is a truly remarkable athlete who in his short career has carved out a legacy of being one of best winners in football. That is why I am rooting for the Steelers today and predicting a 24-14 victory.One thing I forgot to write about is the story of how I met Roethlisberger. Maybe another day, but rest assured that I feel comfortable calling him Ben since that is how he introduced himself to me.