By Scott Brown
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played in the same foursome at a celebrity golf tournament this summer at Lake Tahoe.
The two have many things in common, aside from a love of golf.
They are the faces of flagship franchises. They play for teams with rabid fans who toast and occasionally roast them. They have transcended their sport in their respective city. They have been romantically linked to other celebrities.
The similarities between the two don't end there.
"We're both kind of the risky, gunslinger-type, if you will," Roethlisberger said.
Heinz Field seems like an unlikely place for the two to stage a shootout Sunday for several reasons, not the least of which is the Steelers' propensity for turning opposing quarterbacks into punching bags. All eyes, however, will be on Roethlisberger and Romo, as the teams that have combined to win 10 Super Bowls meet for the first time since 2004.
Fortunately for the Steelers and Cowboys, neither quarterback has shown an aversion to the spotlight.
Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl before his 25th birthday, and Romo is in the process of re-writing the Cowboys' record books.
The latter has become something of a crossover star, given that he is almost as likely to pop up in the tabloids as in sports magazines. That is what happens when you date a pop singer such as Jessica Simpson -- and become as adept at dodging paparazzi as you do opposing pass rushers.
Roethlisberger is not exactly a hermit when he is away from the Steelers' South Side training facility, but even he suggested that all of the attention Romo receives might be a little suffocating.
"I don't mean this to sound rude, but he's asking for it," Roethlisberger said. "He's dating high-profile, he's doing all the stuff he wants to do. That's the life that he chooses to live off the football field, and that's his choice."
Asked if Romo has become more of a celebrity than a quarterback, Steelers safety Ryan Clark said, "I don't know. I had to stop reading US Weekly and all of that stuff. I felt kind of feminine, so I really haven't been up on it. I do know that's he's an awesome quarterback."
The numbers back up Clark's claim.
Romo leads the NFL in passer rating (103.2), has six 300-yard passing games and has thrown 21 touchdown passes (and just eight interceptions) despite missing three games with a broken pinkie.
For all of the gaudy numbers he has put up, the one thing Romo hasn't done is won enough -- or at least won when it matters.
The Cowboys are 0-2 in playoff games he has started, and one of the most successful franchises in NFL history has not won a postseason game since 1996.
Like everything else in his life, such as questions about Simpson and wide receiver Terrell Owens -- the real diva in his life -- Romo takes the Cowboys' postseason failures in stride.
"I just don't sit back and read and listen and all of that stuff, and I try not to make it bigger than it is," Romo said. "I play a game for a living. I'm pretty lucky to do that. I figure as long as you work as hard as you can, I can accept that outcome. What else are you supposed to do?"
Scott Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-481-5432.