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On this day 17 years ago, the Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger at 11th overall out of Miami of Ohio. It turned out to be one of the greatest picks in franchise history, as he has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles and has displayed a Hall of Fame-worthy career. Roethlisberger remarkably is still playing too and is heading into his 18th season with the Steelers at the age of 39.
The cards laid out perfectly for the Steelers in the 2004 NFL Draft, as Roethlisberger would have been selected by the Giants if they didn't make a trade with the Chargers to swap the picks of quarterback Eli Manning and quarterback Philip Rivers.
The Browns had a chance even to select Roethlisberger at sixth overall, who is from Findlay, Ohio but decided to draft tight end Kellen Winslow II instead. The Steelers had some luck for Roethlisberger to fall to them at 11th overall, along with the late Dan Rooney who convinced Cowher to draft Roethlisberger, as he didn't want the Steelers to make the same mistake like in 1983 when they didn't draft Pittsburgh's own Dan Marino and selected defensive tackle Gabriel Rivera at 21st overall instead. Cowher and Kevin Colbert reportedly were ready to draft Arkansas guard Shawn Andrews with the No. 11 pick.
“When our turn came, I couldn’t bear the thought of passing on another great quarterback prospect the way we had passed on Dan Marino in 1983, so I steered the conversation around to Roethlisberger. After some more talk, we came to a consensus and picked Roethlisberger,” Rooney said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Andrews went to the Eagles with the No. 16 pick, but injuries cut his career short and he played just seven seasons in the league.
Luckily for the Steelers, Rooney had those memories of the Steelers passing on Marino, and the decision paid off, as Roethlisberger led the Steelers to their first Super Bowl victory in 26 years in just his second year and became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win a Super Bowl at the age of 23.