DALLAS - If you want to know how popular Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers are, do a Google image search.
One of the first images of Roethlisberger to pop up is of the Steelers quarterback with his arms around two women. He’s wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Drink Like a Champion Today.”
Rodgers also has his arm around somebody in an image – a laughing Brett Favre, during Rodgers’ rookie season.
A victory in today’s Super Bowl XLV between the Steelers and Packers at Cowboys Stadium will distance both from those popular story lines — Roethlisberger as the party-going womanizer and Rodgers playing in the shadow of Favre’s Packers legacy.
Roethlisberger needs one more title to become the fifth quarterback to win three or more Super Bowls.
A Super Bowl title would put Rodgers on a level playing field with Favre, who won a Super Bowl in his sixth season but never again. Rodgers is also in his sixth season, but he sat for three years behind the future Hall of Famer in the much-chronicled starter-backup drama.
Many have predicted Super Bowls for Rodgers, but he has yet to deliver — a point slyly made by Roethlisberger when he was asked during media day last week about predicting how good Rodgers would become.
“I’m pretty good, aren’t I?” Roethlisberger said. “I might have a gig at ESPN as an analyst or something like that after that, right? No, I’ve known it. I’ve always known that he’s a great player, a great person, a great quarterback.”
Since the Steelers picked him in the first round of the 2004 draft, Roethlisberger has been involved in three headline-making incidents.
First, there was the motorcycle accident before the 2006 season in which he nearly died when he ruptured a blood vessel in his mouth.
Three years later, he was accused of assaulting a woman in Lake Tahoe the year prior, but the charges were eventually dropped.
The following year Roethlisberger was again at the center of sexual-assault allegations. Police, though, eventually deemed that there was not enough evidence to charge the quarterback.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, however, decided that there was enough there to suspend Roethlisberger for the first six games of the season. The suspension was eventually cut to four games.
The Steelers stood behind the quarterback.
When Roethlisberger returned, it was as if he hadn’t missed a beat. The Steelers finished 12-4 and won yet another AFC North crown.
If Roethlisberger and the Steelers win today, the organization will pad its record-setting mark of seven Super Bowls. And he will join Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady as the quarterbacks with three or more titles.
Some are saying that a victory would also put him into the conversation with Brady and Peyton Manning as the best active quarterbacks.
He doesn’t agree.
“It’s my way of keeping me as the underdog,” Roethlisberger said. “It drives Coach (Mike) Tomlin crazy because he wants me to put myself in that category. I guess I like being the hunter, not the hunted.”
AARON AND BRETT
Favre is a god-like figure in Wisconsin. There were the obvious successes, but his swashbuckling ways endeared him to the Packers fan base. After the 2007 season and a loss in the NFC championship, though, Favre announced his retirement and Rodgers was finally given his chance to start.
But Favre unretired for the first of several times and the Packers were in damage control as a large portion of the fan base wanted Favre back.
“I think a lot of people probably doubted him,” Packers wide receiver Donald Driver said.
Favre was traded to the Jets, but Rodgers had some big cleats to fill and fans let him know it as Green Bay went 6-10 in his first season.
“It was a difficult situation,” Rodgers said. “It was tough to stand up every day in front of the media not knowing what questions were coming at me and how the fans were going to react that day in practice.”
Rodgers was not recruited out of high school in Chico, Calif., and instead enrolled at Butte Community College. Cal coach Jeff Tedford noticed Rodgers while recruiting Butte’s tight end, and because Rodgers had a 3.6 grade-point average and SAT score of 1,300, he was allowed to transfer after his first season.
At Cal, he blossomed and entered the draft as a possible No. 1 overall pick — or so many thought.
“We didn’t spend a lot of time on Aaron up until the week or 10 days before the draft because we’d always assumed that he was going to go pretty high,” general manager Ted Thompson said.
Utah quarterback Alex Smith was the No. 1 overall pick by San Francisco, and Rodgers fell to No. 24 to the Packers.
Rodgers and Roethlisberger forged dissimilar paths to Super Bowl XLV. But they will be compared against one other today.
Asked who was the better quarterback, Rodgers said, “I don’t make those decisions or answers. I’ll let you figure that out.”
Maybe Google will help.
MATCHUPS, ROSTERS and team statistics: Analyzing the Steelers and Packers. B4-5
SUPER BOWL ADS: The 10 best ads to watch today. B3
HALL OF FAME: Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk get in, but ex-Seahawk Cortez Kennedy doesn’t. B3 BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Regular season statistics
PASSER RATING: 97.0
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Regular season statistics
PASSER RATING: 101.2