On March 2, 1982, two awesome individuals entered this world: Ben Roethlisberger and myself. Certainly, we’ve taken divergent paths since that time, and it makes sense that we celebrated our birthdays in wildly different manners. I sat in the 300 level of the United Center watching a Blackhawks game; Ben patiently waited for the Steelers to finalize the details of his new eight-year, $102 million contract.
So without further ado, here is the (belated) birthday tale of the tape: Big Ben vs. Hick Flick.
Big Ben: Fiendishly handsome 26-year-old quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 6’5″, 241 pounds. 84 career TDs, 54 career interceptions and 11,673 passing yards. Won Super Bowl XL.
Hick Flick: Fiendishly handsome 26-year-old sports writer for Rumors and Rants. 6’3″, 175 pounds. Realized athletic career was doomed after being held scoreless for an entire eighth grade basketball season, though at least half of those shots rimmed out. Inventor of the skyhook three-pointer.
Recent Birthday Gifts
Big Ben: Eight-year contract for $102 million, including $36 million in guarantees.
Hick Flick: A book (The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama), a CD (Stevie Ray Vaughn), a DVD (Blues Brothers Special Edition) and a handy atlas of the state of Illinois. Also, my mom said she’d get me a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen in Milwaukee (it’s an Algonquin word meaning “The Good Land.”)
Advantage: The Boss is pretty cool. But he isn’t $36 million in guarantees. Big Ben.
Big Ben: Named the 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year. A year later, became the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl (despite playing poorly in the game). Starred in a Fathead commercial.
Hick Flick: Won first place in the Illinois AP Editors Association contest for newspapers under 15,000 circulation for the Sports News and Sports Features categories in 2007 and Sports Columns in 2006.
Advantage: I’ve been told chicks find Super Bowl rings slightly more appealing than newspaper plaques. Big Ben.
Big Ben: Awful 2006-07 season that included 18 TDs against 23 INTs. Steelers miss the playoffs for the only time since Roethlisberger became their starting QB.
Hick Flick: Has not had a full-time job since August despite previously heralded credentials.
Advantage: Big Ben probably still had insurance benefits during that crappy year. So he gets it.
Big Ben: Crashed 2005 Suzuki motorcycle in downtown Pittsburgh while driving without a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license or a helmet. Was nearly killed, had to undergo major facial surgery and then got ticketed by the cops a week later.
Hick Flick: Has received three lifetime speeding tickets, all while behind the wheel of a ’93 Saturn which now has over 201,000 miles of service. Most of my friends are shocked by this, unaware that my car was capable of traveling faster than any posted speed limit.
Advantage: Hick Flick, who doesn’t wear a helmet while driving either.
Celebrities We’ve Been Linked To
Big Ben: Natalie Gulbis. Missy Peregrym.
Hick Flick: Julie “The Cat” Gaffney.
Advantage: I’m pretty sure neither Ms. Gulbis, nor Ms. Peregrym gave Ben a false name along with her phone number, so it looks like he gets the edge here.
Celebrities Some People Think We Look Like
Big Ben: John Krasinski, if he had a beard.
Big Ben: Has had “Roethlis Burgers” served at restaurants in Oxford, OH; Findaly, OH and Pittsburgh. Also has his own line of barbecue sauce and beef jerky.
Hick Flick: Invented the peanut butter and cream cheese sandwich, which was born out of a lack of jelly. Has yet to see anyone else eat one.
Advantage: It’s beef jerky time! Big Ben wins again.
Embarrassing Public Moment
Big Ben: Sat around the NFL Draft green room a lot longer than people expected in 2004. Then, Brady Quinn came along in 2007 and made Ben’s awkward wait for someone to draft him look like a walk in the park.
Hick Flick: As previously noted, invented the skyhook three-point shot and had perfected it in practice. This shot was unveiled to the public in the final game of eighth grade basketball season as Hick Flick stood at the top of the key, then to the shock of the man guarding him, turned to his side and unleashed a hook shot.
The ball hit the top of the backboard, then bounced between all of the wiring connecting the backboard and the wall before falling harmlessly to the ground. In the meantime, literally everyone in the gym started laughing.
Advantage: Hick Flick going away.
Verdict: 5-2, Ben Roethlisberger
OK, so we were putting a No. 16 seed up against a No. 1 seed. That being said, I probably covered the point spread that Vegas would have established. Anyway, best birthday wishes to Ben. I like to think we’d make the best tandem of guys born on March 2 since Dr. Seuss and Jon Bon Jovi.