Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger clash in Super Bowl with legacies on the line
DALLAS - What more could a quarterback with two Super Bowl rings have to prove?
For that matter, who would have doubts about a quarterback averaging more than 4,000 yards passing each season?
Legacies and redemption are on the line for Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLV.
Despite big numbers from Rodgers and Roethlisberger being a two-time champion quarterback, there are plenty of doubters.
Fair or not, Rodgers will never truly step out of Brett Favre's shadow until he hoists the Lombardi Trophy like his predecessor did once.
Roethlisberger is still working on winning fans back after two accusations of sexual assault and a four-game suspension earlier this year for violating the personal conduct policy.
"I just try to go out and enjoy life and do the best I can to be the best person I can be, the best son, and Christian and everything like that," Roethlisberger said.
The truth is, no matter how many Super Bowls Roethlisberger wins, his reputation is tainted forever. Even members of intensely loyal Steeler Nation have turned on him, but winning has started to change that a bit.
For Rodgers, sitting behind Favre for three years didn't hurt his progress as a quarterback, throwing 87 touchdowns and more than 12,000 yards in three full season as the Packers' starter. Yet, Rodgers will always be compared to Favre and without a championship, there will always be doubts whether the Packers did the right thing by letting the future Hall of Famer walk away.
"I think one of the advantages to waiting is when I was ready to play, we were coming off an NFC Championship season and obviously we struggled that next year in my first season starting," Rodgers said. "We had the pieces in place and we've added to that to give us an opportunity to be here."
A third Super Bowl championship for Roethlisberger puts him in the most elite of company. Only Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, and Tom Brady have quarterbacked at least three Super Bowl champions.
"That's unbelievable company," said Roethlisberger. "I don't put myself there, I think they are too good."
Whether he likes it or not, another championship would put Roethlisberger in that discussion - and deservedly so.
"I don't now what it is, I think it's probably the competitiveness, the drive to want to do whatever it takes to win the game that's on the line and the ball is in your hands," said Roethlisberger. "You want to make the plays for your team and for your coach and the owner, everybody. You want to do it."
Roethlisberger also has the uncanny ability to keep plays alive with his legs, something he has in common with Rodgers.
"A great deal of why these teams are here are because of the men who play (quarterback)," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "We are fortunate enough to have somebody who I think is an elite one, so it makes it much easier."
Of course, the Steelers are facing an elite one themselves in Rodgers.
"I don't see anyone throw the ball like (Rodgers) does or make plays like he does, aside from our guy," said Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.
What it amounts to is continuing the run of Super Bowls featuring a blockbuster quarterback duel.
Rodgers, the dynamic passer, against Roethlisberger, the flawed champion.