The list of potential MVP candidates contains a handful of names. Matt Ryan. Peyton Manning. Aaron Rodgers. J.J. Watt. Some are suggesting that Andrew Luck could get some votes.
But what about the guy who has as many Super Bowl rings than those five players combined?
The Steelers are making a push for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get MVP consideration, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“He should be a candidate,” backup quarterback Byron Leftwich told Bouchette. “The fact he was not listed [as one of five candidates by ESPN] is ridiculous. He’s one of the elite; ‘7’ can play the game of football, and he’s playing at a very high level.”
“He’s a big-time leader, a big-time competitor, a fourth-quarter killer,” Mike Wallace said. “He’s the toughest quarterback in the league. . . . He picked up the new offense really fast. I feel it’s time he gets the recognition he deserves.”
The other side of the ball agrees.
“He’s a big reason why we’ve been in games and why we feel we can win any game,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “That’s why we feel we can go to the Super Bowl every year, because we have a championship-type quarterback.”
Leftwich thinks that Roethlisberger’s somewhat unconventional style is hurting him when it comes to getting praise.
“He’s a very unique football player, and I think sometimes by him being unique and the style he plays, he doesn’t get enough credit for all the things he does right,” Leftwich said. “He doesn’t play the way people perceive the quarterback position to play.”
“Sometimes he doesn’t get mentioned with the elite quarterbacks for one reason or another,” Keisel said. “We in this locker room consider him the best.”
It’s unclear why Roethlisberger isn’t getting more notice or consideration for the league’s top individual award. Past accounts of boorish behavior — and allegations of criminal misconduct — have made it hard for him to enjoy a great reputation among fans and the media. The “drama queen” perception doesn’t help, either.
But Keisel and Leftwich and Wallace are right. The guy can play. And he’s playing as well as ever. When it’s time for the votes to be cast, here’s hoping folks set aside factors unrelated to his performance this season.