Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement on Thursday. A no-doubt Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Steelers to three Super Bowls, he's also a part of a rare dozen in NFL history -- quarterbacks who have won two or more Super Bowl titles. Where does he stack up in this elite group? Let's take a look.
Griese led the Dolphins to back-to-back titles, replacing Earl Morrall in 1972 to help cap off Miami's perfect season with a win in Super Bowl VII, and then beating the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII. (That’s right, kids, the Vikings were in the Super Bowl.) But Griese is also the only quarterback on this list who was never selected as a Super Bowl MVP.
One of the rare people in the world with both a Super Bowl MVP award and a Heisman Trophy. Plunkett won a pair of Super Bowl titles (Super Bowls XV and XVIII) despite having served as the backup quarterback in both seasons. His 1980 Oakland Raiders were also the first Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl. Yet, he remains the only eligible starting quarterback with two Super Bowl wins not in the Hall of Fame.
I know a lot of people will say that Roethlisberger was more of a game manager than anything during his first Super Bowl win with the Steelers (Super Bowl XL), which is fair. I mean, Hines Ward was pretty dope. But there is no denying how great Roethlisberger was in Super Bowl XLIII -- and he delivered an absolute dart to Santonio Holmes for the eventual winning touchdown.
He beat Tom Brady not once but twice in a Super Bowl. The first time, in Super Bowl XLII, Eli prevented the Patriots from being the first team in NFL history to go 19-0 and win a title. And while his older brother might deride him for not hitting David Tyree in the numbers in a TV commercial, Eli can always point out that he was the MVP in both of his Super Bowl wins (the other being Super Bowl XLVI). Peyton did win one MVP award, though I’m sure Dominic Rhodes might not remember that moment fondly.
You wonder, had a few breaks gone his way during the 1970s, maybe Staubach would be in the conversation for greatest quarterback of all time. He breezed past the Dolphins (Super Bowl VI) and Broncos (Super Bowl XII) with relative ease, but the Steelers (Super Bowls X and XIII) were a riddle he just couldn’t solve. Still, being able to be a part of this list is rather impressive. And like Plunkett, Staubach is the rare Heisman Trophy winner who was also a Super Bowl MVP (in Super Bowl VI). (And I know it’s driving you crazy, so I’ll save you a Google and tell you the other two are Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard.)
I will say this about Aikman: While he didn't put up the numbers that Steve Young and Brett Favre did during the 1990s, Aikman was at his best when it counted the most. I truly believe that. He was nearly flawless in the Cowboys' early Super Bowl runs, and I am convinced a huge part of his success -- a huge reason that he helped Dallas win three titles (Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII and XXX) -- was his unselfishness. He was also the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII.
There is no doubt Manning was one of the greatest passers in NFL history. His numbers were absolutely astounding, helping him stand above the rest even in an era when everybody was throwing the football. But while wins aren't a quarterback stat (or so they tell me), it's a fair criteria to examine when trying to label the best of the very best. It's difficult, like Jester having to choose the best pilot in Top Gun. You can use wins to help sort a list like this.
Starr won the first two Super Bowl titles ever (only it wasn't called the Super Bowl back in his day). But what's important to note here is that he won five NFL championships total, including three from 1965 to '67. No quarterback in NFL history was won three consecutive Super Bowl titles. I might even be underrating him a bit, but let's be honest: There are some good players on this list.
Bradshaw gets overlooked at times, with the famed "Steel Curtain" defense getting a lot of credit for Pittsburgh's four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s (Super Bowls IX, X, XIII and XIV). His passing numbers are dwarfed by some of the names on this list. But make no mistake: Terry could drop an absolute dime, and that winning touchdown pass to John Stallworth in Super Bowl XIV was a true gem. He also was a two-time Super Bowl MVP, so that has to say something.
I know you kids didn't see Elway in his prime. Hell, I'm not sure I really saw Elway in his prime, with his Super Bowl titles (XXXII and XXXIII) coming at the end of his career. But Elway was the Josh Allen of his era, considered by some to be the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Had he played for a different team in the 1980s, we might have a very different list -- some of those Broncos teams he carried to the Super Bowl weren't great. And yet, he had them in the big game.
The original Joe Cool. The guy who never threw an interception in a Super Bowl game. The guy who casually strolled out to the field and pointed out actor John Candy in the crowd to his teammates right before they huddled to start their winning drive over the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. Dude was a three-time Super Bowl MVP. He won two of his titles (Super Bowls XVI and XIX) before Jerry Rice joined the team. And nobody talks about this, but injuries prevented him from achieving even more. I'm not saying he'd match Tom Brady, but it would be close.
Brady put the question of who would top this list to rest last year when he won Super Bowl LV with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming the only quarterback in NFL history to lead two separate teams to Super Bowl wins. And before you mention Peyton Manning, notice the word that I italicized and bolded; Brady led two teams to Super Bowl titles, whereas the team with which Manning won his second was driven by its defense. Just saying. There is no doubt in my mind Brady is the G.O.A.T., and there is no reason to belabor this point.