Gambo: Why Roethlisberger is better than Warner
News moves fast in the social media world. It didn't take long after I mentioned on air Thursday that I thought Ben Roethlisberger was a better quarterback than Kurt Warner before Warner himself was getting tweets about it and responding on Twitter that he wants a chance to come on the show and defend himself. Within five minutes of him sending out his tweet and after getting my text message telling him to call in, a fantastic debate on the greatness of two quarterbacks erupted on the show.
Now, before you condemn me and sentence me to be put under the first train out of town, understand that I said Kurt Warner was a great quarterback, top 5 in our era. I just thought that, in my opinion and I am certainly entitled to it, that Roethlisberger was better.
For argument sake I am considering this era post-Aikman. Meaning after Troy Aikman retired and in the last 10 years. It's easy to figure out who the top two quarterbacks in the era are - Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. I gave the nod to Brett Favre, which I think most people would agree. Now came the hard part. Who is the fourth best quarterback of this era? Warner? Roethlisberger? Brees?
I went with Roethlisberger. Now again, hear me out before taking the homer approach. You all love Warner and so do I. He was a sensational quarterback who is headed to the Hall of Fame and the Cardinals are finding it impossible to replace him. The same way Pittsburgh had a hard time replacing Terry Bradshaw, Miami replacing Dan Marino, San Diego replacing Dan Fouts and Denver with John Elway.
Now let's be realistic here, my choice on Roethlisberger has nothing to do with his behavior off the field. Just like when he gets a chance to go to the Hall of Fame five years after he retires nothing he did off the field is taken into consideration, only what he did on the field.
I understand that Roethlisberger will never put up the gaudy single-season numbers that Warner did. But there is a major, major reason for that. Warner played his entire career, outside of one miserable season with the New York Giants, in warm weather and in domes. Roethlisberger is playing in cold weather Pittsburgh. His away games are at Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, places where the cold and other elements like wind, are a huge factor. So the emphasis in cold weather cities is to play great defense, run the ball and protect the ball. In St. Louis and Arizona you can air it out all you want. There is no wind, there is no cold which makes it kind of easy to throw the football. In his one year with the Giants in a cold weather climate, Warner couldn't hold on to the football, fumbling the ball 12 times in nine games.
Let's also not forget that after three great years in St. Louis, Warner looked like a shot fighter. Injuries took their toll and in the next five seasons he started just 31 games and threw just 27 touchdown passes - an average of 5.4 TD passes a year. You can't discount those years in evaluating his career. It wasn't until he resurrected his career in Arizona that Warner became a HOF player. He had a great three years in the beginning of his career, a forgettable five years in the middle and an amazing three years at the end.
Roethlisberger on the other hand has had a very steady seven-year career. Big Ben has thrown for over 3,000 yards in five straight years, including one 4,000 yard season. Warner threw for over 3,000 yards six times in his career and for more than 4,000 three times. Pretty comparable already and again consider that Roethlisberger has played five less seasons at this point.
Some other things to consider, Roethlisberger is 10-2 in the playoffs, a better winning percentage than Brady and Manning. Warner was 9-4. Also take into consideration passer completion percentage. In warm weather and domes, Warner completed 65.5 % of his passes in his career, not much better than Roethlisberger who has completed 63.1% of his passes, again playing outdoors in Pittsburgh. Both quarterbacks have identical Touchdown percentages of 5.1.
Roethlisberger is also a much better rushing quarterback, keeping plays and drives alive with his feet, something Warner could never do. Roethlisberger has already rushed for 874 yards to Warner's career total of 286.
What is not debatable is that Warner played with better talent. He had Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in Arizona and Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Tory Holt in St. Louis. Warner has the two MVP awards, Roethlisberger has a Rookie of the Year. In his career Warner threw for 32,344 yards - Roethlisberger thus far has 22,502 yards.
I find the topic very debatable as to who was better and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Both quarterbacks are great, both headed to the Hall of Fame, both top 5 in our era. I just like Roethlisberger a little better than Warner when it comes to judging them.