Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made history for the franchise this year by breaking an important franchise record.
Roethlisberger of course broke Terry Bradshaw’s career touchdown record, but that’s not the record in question.
Ben Roethlisberger participated in every offensive snap this season. Kudos to my friend and colleague Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain for “breaking” this story.
- He beat Steel Curtain Rising to the punch, fair and square. This bud’s for you Neal.
While Coolong gets credit for the insight and analyzing what it means in terms of the present, there are dots that remain unconnected regarding the historical significance of Roethlisberger’s achievement.
- Roethlisberger’s every snap participation is a feat that only one other Steelers quarterback has accomplished.
Actually, that statement may be a tad bit inaccurate. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the final NFL team to abandon the single wing offense in 1952 when Joe Bach took over from John Michelosen, and that’s when any meaningful statistical comparison on quarterbacking must begin.
Thanks to the internet, records go back that far, but they only include statistics for plays a player did something, as opposed to snap counts. So perhaps the more accurate statistic is “Steelers quarterback to throw a pass.”
Who Was “The Other”Steelers Quarterback?
So who was the other quarterback? Well, Kordell Stewart got close in the Phoenix like resurrection phase of his career, but Tommy Maddox appeared in 3 games and threw 9 passes. Maddox too came close in 2003, but Charlie Batch saw some time.
Mike Tomczak threw passes in each of his seasons from 1993 to 1999. Neil O’Donnell never started a full season worth of games. Bubby Brister got close in 1990, but Rick Strom threw 21 passes in 6 games that year for those taking notes at home.
Early in his career, Bradshaw of course split time with Terry Hanratty and Joe Gilliam, and Mike Kruczek slung the leather during each of his 4 seasons in Pittsburgh, as did Cliff Stoudt during his time in the ‘Burgh.
Leaf back into the 60’s, and you’ll see that Bobby Layne, Ed Brown, Kent Nix, Rudy Burkich, Bill Nelsen and Dick Shiner all shared snaps with understudies.
- In the 1950’s the story is largely the same with Earl Morrall and Ted Marchibroda.
To find another season where only a single solitary quarterback on the Steelers roster threw a pass, you have to go back to 1952, when Jim Finks earned that distinction.
61 years later, Ben Roethlisberger followed in his footsteps. It could easily be another 61 years before it happens again.