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Big Ben and the grocery bagger

To compare Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger as quarterbacks would betantamount to, say, comparing Michael Buble and Kanye West as singers.

To compare Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger as quarterbacks would be tantamount to, say, comparing Michael Buble and Kanye West as singers.

Their styles are drastically different.

Warner is a proactive QB, a refined reader of defences and a precision passer. Roethlisberger is a reactive QB, an instinctive playmaker who reads defences more effectively after snaps and makes impromptu decisions on the move.

“They’re like night and day,” former NFL QB-turned-analyst Terry Bradshaw mentioned. “They do nothing the same — except lead their teams to victories.” On Sunday in Tampa Bay, Warner and Roethlisberger will attempt to lead their teams to a Super Bowl victory. Warner, 37, is the QB of the Arizona Cardinals. Roethlisberger, 26, is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ QB.

One of the two will garner the second Super Bowl ring of his career. And they will both likely wind up as Hall of Famers.

And, yet, neither was a shoo-in to even play QB in the NFL, let alone be in the Super Bowl and Hall of Fame. Perseverance, though, is what has made both their stories remarkable.

Warner, who could become the first QB in history to lead two different franchises to an NFL title, was a training-camp cut by the Green Bay Packers in 1994 before finding jobs in the real world, including one in which he stocked shelves and bagged groceries.

Eventually, he was signed by the Arena Football League and, by 1999, the injury-plagued St. Louis Rams were desperate for a QB and recruited him. He responded by guiding the Rams to a Super Bowl triumph and by capturing the first of his two NFL MVP awards.

While Warner always got to play QB, however, Roethlisberger didn’t. At high school in Ohio, Roethlisberger was a receiver until his senior year. The team’s coach preferred his son at QB.
And there were obstacles for both Big Ben and Warner during their NFL careers, too.

In June 2006, months after becoming the youngest QB to lead a team to a Super Bowl title, Roethlisberger was in a serious motorcycle crash — minus a helmet.

The damage: A nine-inch head laceration, a broken jaw, a fractured nose and lost teeth. He required seven hours of surgery, and doctors feared he might not be able to play again. Roethlisberger bounced back, though, undaunted.

Warner nearly retired before 2007, when the Cards planned to use highly touted draft choice Matt Leinart at QB. But Warner stuck around, despite adversity.

And as they prepare this week for the 43rd Super Bowl, their legacies in perseverance continue to be written.

 
 
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