San Diego was one of 10 teams to ignore Ben Roethlisberger on draft day 2004, opting instead for Philip Rivers. Big Ben remembers.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Perhaps it's not the same as Chad Johnson's List in Cincinnati, but Ben Roethlisberger keeps a directory of his own. Call it Big Ben's Ten Most Wanted.
They are the 10 National Football League teams that bypassed him in the 2004 draft. Perched at the top are the San Diego Chargers. Roethlisberger and his Steelers teammates go after them Sunday night on the West Coast.
"It'll feel good to get out there," Roethlisberger said yesterday. "It'll be a little added incentive."
Roethlisberger already beat the Chargers in San Diego last October. Adding to the incentive of again playing the first team that bypassed him in the draft is playing against Philip Rivers for the first time. Rivers and Eli Manning were the two quarterbacks drafted before him. Roethlisberger can add Rivers' pelt to the one he acquired when he and the Steelers beat the Giants and Eli Manning in 2004.
Manning was drafted first in the 2004 draft, Rivers fourth. The New York Giants and Chargers quickly followed by swapping the quarterbacks. The Steelers made Roethlisberger the third quarterback drafted in that class, picking him at No. 11.
"It's not him, I have nothing against him," Roethlisberger said of Rivers. "I like playing San Diego because they had a pick -- anybody who was in the top 10, I kind of like to play against, it feels good."
Roethlisberger won his first nine starts against his Ten Most Wanted before he and the Steelers stumbled in Jacksonville in the second game this season, 9-0. He has beaten Cleveland all three times he has started against the Browns, and added victories against the Washington Redskins, Jaguars, Giants, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions and Chargers. He gets a crack at two more on his list later this month when the Steelers play at Atlanta and at Oakland. A victory against each would complete his Top 10.
Adding to the intrigue of his hit list is the fact the Steelers would have drafted Rivers if he had been available, even if Roethlisberger had been on the board. There were many reports that the Steelers preferred Rivers.
"Yeah, that was my impression," Rivers said yesterday. "I certainly got the impression if not San Diego, then Pittsburgh. That was all ifs and buts, but certainly that was the impression, but who knows how it's going to unfold?"