02/06/11 — Opinion: Legacy can be made today

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Opinion: Legacy can be made today

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 6, 2011 12:00 AM

There are a handful of defining moments through the course of one's life that ultimately shape a legacy.

No moment leaves an indelible impression on the lasting heritage of a quarterback like his performance in the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers will both have the opportunity today in Super Bowl XLV to leave an unchangeable stamp on their respective careers, while silencing their critics.

The 28-year-old Roethlisberger is in pursuit of his third Lombardi Trophy. In seven NFL seasons, Roethlisberger has passed for more than 22,000 yards with 144 touchdowns and has completed 63 percent of his passes.

Roethlisberger is 10-2 in the postseason and has engineered 19 fourth-quarter comebacks and 25 game-winning drives. His playoff winning percentage is better than that of both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, two quarterbacks who typically garner more praise and respect than Roethlisberger.

A win today would certainly bolster Roethlisberger's Hall of Fame legitimacy and perhaps quiet some of his detractors still hung up on his off-the-field troubles. Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault twice in the past two years. Although never convicted of a crime, he was suspended four games this season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Big Ben has yet to gain the "elite" status shared by many around the league. However, there's no greater way to put trouble to rest and leave doubters speechless than to win. For seven solid seasons, that's about all Roethlisberger has done.

Rodgers spent his first three seasons in Green Bay as Brett Favre's backup and continued to play in Favre's shadow after the legendary quarterback's messy departure from the Packers.

Since becoming a starter in 2008, Rodgers is 30-21 with 86 touchdown passes and 31 interceptions. He has 14, 300-plus yard passing games in his career and 14 games with three or more passing touchdowns.

Rodgers ranked third in the league this season in quarterback rating and was among the top 10 in completion percentage, passing yards and touchdown passes. In four career playoff games Rodgers is 3-1 with 10 touchdown passes, three interceptions and has a 69.6 completion percentage.

Like Roethlisberger, Rodgers is 28 and his future is certainly bright. This isn't a make-or-break game for the Packers' signal caller and a win today would give him as many Super Bowl victories as Favre had in 20 NFL seasons.

A win coupled with a Super Bowl MVP-caliber performance would, however, quiet the whispers on whether Rodgers is elite and silence the doubts surrounding his ability to win big games. A loss and a shaky effort against a vaunted Pittsburgh defense could potentially rekindle the questions that lingered around Rodgers when Favre pretended to retire in 2008.

It's the Super Bowl.

The whole world is watching and there's not just a Lombardi Trophy on the line. Another chapter in the legacy of two quarterbacks and how they'll be remembered forever gets written today.