We all know that the two quarterbacks are forever linked, along with San Diego's Philip Rivers, due to the circumstances that put each on their respective teams in the 2004 draft. Eli with the Giants, Big Ben with with the Steelers and Rivers with San Diego. Comparing the three is something I think people will still be doing long after they are each done playing.
For today, let's focus on Manning and Roethlisberger. How do you feel about the two quarterbacks today, after watching Roethlisberger throw two crucial interceptions Sunday and fail to engineer anything resembling a game-winning drive in Pittsburgh's last possession?
Basically, the question is this. If you were Ernie Accorsi and you had a do-over of the 2004 NFL Draft TODAY would you engineer the trade for Eli, or would you have just stayed at No. 4 overall and taken Roethlisberger?
I don't believe this question -- including Rivers place in the conversation -- can be fully evaluated until the careers of all three players are complete. In reality, we are pretty much at the halfway point for each guy. That said, what would do TODAY?
I will answer first. Knowing what I know now, I am making the deal and sticking with Manning. Rivers doesn't factor into it when you think back because the Giants did not want him. Had they not traded for Eli, Roethlisberger would have been a Giant. They would have taken Big Ben over Rivers.
Why would I stick with Eli? Lots of reasons. First, let's debunk Roethlisberger's mythical greatness in the Super Bowl. Yes, he has two rings in three appearances, and yes he was terrific in 2008 against Arizona. Have you checked his overall Super Bowl numbers, though? After Sunday's 25-of-40 performance with two touchdowns and two interceptions, Big Ben has thrown five Super Bowl interceptions and just three touchdown passes. Hardly numbers that are historic. Also, did you notice that Roethlisberger could not even seem to get the Steelers lined up properly during their final possession of the game? Maybe that isn't completely his fault, but it sure didn't look like a team that was ready to do something historic.
Roethlisberger is getting panned today.
Here is SB Nation Dallas:
In three Super Bowls, Roethlisberger has thrown three touchdowns and five interceptions. If the Steelers won, people would compare him to Brady, having three rings and all, but know this: in four Super Bowls, Brady has completed 100 of 155 passes for 1,001 yards and seven touchdowns against just one interception.
Roethlisberger is not a big-game quarterback, his defense and running games have bailed him out in the playoffs time and time again - which is a testament to how good the Steelers running game and defense has been in a league that is now dominated by passing.
Here is the Dallas News:
If he took the Steelers 87 yards in 1:59 with one timeout to win Super Bowl XLV, he could punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame.
That’s automatically where quarterbacks with three rings go five years after their careers end.
Besides, if he won another championship, many of the sordid details that resulted in his four-game suspension to start the season would have been forgiven. Nothing eases the stench of a scandal quite like a W.
But Big Ben didn’t get it done.
Actually, he never even got close enough to make the cheeseheads nervous.
Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25.
In three Super Bowls, Roethlisberger is 2-1, though he’s yet to be the best player on the field.
In Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers easily outplayed Roethlisberger. Rodgers was named MVP, earning a trip to Disney World on Monday and the parade that accompanies the Super Bowl’s best player.
I know all about Roethlisberger's three Super Bowl appearances to Eli's one, his quarterback rating of 92.5 to Eli's career mark of 80.2, Eli's 25-interception 2010 season, even Roethlisberger's ability to make plays with his legs -- something Eli just is not good at.
I don't care. I'm taking Eli. You know why? Because over the years we have learned a lot of other things about Roethlisberger, too. By a lot of accounts, he is not a very nice guy. There have been a pair of sexual assault allegations, one that led to a four-game suspension at the beginning of this season. There was the motorcyle accident a few years back.
Eli Manning has never done anything but represent the New York Giants franchise with class and dignity. He has never come remotely close to embarrassing the franchise or turning his life off the field into some sort of public spectacle. Nor do I believe he ever will. Eli, honstly, is a heckuva lot easier to root for than Big Ben.
Could Roethlisberger have played well as a Giant? Probably. Could he have survived in the city without becoming an embarrassment? I have my doubts.
Do I know at this point which guy will end up having the better career? Nope. I believe that book is only about half-written. We are not anywhere near the ending, so let's not jump to a conclusion.
I do know that, looking back on the events of 2004 today I am perfectly content with Eli Manning as quarterback of the Giants and Ben Roethlisberger playing elsewhere.