The changing of the guard in the NFL

Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

For some time, the changing of the guard has been happening in the NFL, with the retirements of Payton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees signifying the transition from the quarterbacks of the early 2000s to the modern domination of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.

However, two old stalwarts of that old guard continued on, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, extending a golden age of professional football.

Until, they weren’t.

In the span of three days, both Roethlisberger and Brady hung up their cleats for good. Well, technically speaking, Roethlisberger made his retirement official, but there was some question as to whether Brady would be stepping away from the game or not. However, he made his decision official Tuesday.

These were predictable events, but nonetheless managed to take the breath away from millions of football fans across the world.

Both quarterbacks had dominated the game of football for two decades, trading Super Bowl titles and records that will stand for generations.

Roethlisberger leaves after 18 full seasons with the Steelers, holding the record for the most time one quarterback has spent with one team.

Along the way, he was a two-time Super Bowl winner, all-time winningest quarterback in Steeler history and holder of multiple franchise records, including passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, attempts, fourth-quarter comebacks, game-winning drives and 300-yard passing games.

Overall, Roethlisberger amassed 165 career wins, second only to Brady, and along the way managed to finish eighth all-time in passing touchdowns, as well as fifth in passing yards, completions and attempts.

Then there’s Brady, who in 22 NFL seasons was a seven-time Super Bowl winner, five-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL MVP and a 15-time Pro Bowler.

That’s without mentioning the 624 touchdowns Brady threw and the 84,520 yards he passed for, easily making him the greatest quarterback and arguably the greatest player to ever grace a football field.

To watch both of these men take the field and battle for essentially my entire life has been a blessing in many ways.

Roethlisberger’s career began when I was 4 years old, while Brady’s began a month after I was born. Think about that.

Whether they were battling each other in conference championship games or various opponents, the two always maintained professionalism, a stature of play that is unrivaled and a desire to win matched in few players.

As the guard shifts to a new generation of talent, let the era of Big Ben, Brady, both Mannings, Rivers and Brees never be forgotten or downplayed.

The sport is better for all of them.


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