Time Is Now for Big Ben; Steelers Quarterback Enjoys Spotlight of Super Bowl

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Byline: VITO STELLINO

DETROIT -- When the Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Detroit on Monday to start the buildup to Super Bowl XL, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger asked a team spokesman what time the media session was scheduled.

He was told he wasn't one of the half-dozen players the Steelers planned to showcase, although the Steelers didn't really explain why.

"I'm not really involved in that," Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "I know we just tried to limit Ben's access this week, so I think it was just the way it is."

The logical explanation is that they were trying to shield him as much as possible from the media spotlight in the Super Bowl.

As it turns out, it appears the Steelers had nothing to worry about.

Roethlisberger is the second-youngest quarterback ever to start a Super Bowl -- Dan Marino was the youngest in January 1985 -- and has a shot to become the youngest to win it.

Yet Roethlisberger handled the three team media sessions this week with the aplomb of a veteran. He seemed at ease even though quarterbacks aren't always comfortable in the Super Bowl spotlight.

Joe Montana, one of two quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls (Steelers Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is the other), seemed to treat media sessions as if he were undergoing a root canal.

Roethlisberger, by contrast, was happy to go with the flow. He even said he was disappointed he wasn't invited to the party the first day.

"I mean, every day with you guys would have been great," he said. "It's part of the territory. You have to accept it, especially being the quarterback. You know the cameras are pointing at you."

He also understands how rare this opportunity can be. Marino's Miami Dolphins lost in the Super Bowl to San Francisco and never made it back.

By contrast, Tom Brady won in his second year after the 2001 season and went on to win three titles in four years.

Whether Roethlisberger's career will parallel Marino's, Brady's or something in between is the question that will be answered in the coming years.

Roethlisberger even asked Marino for some advice on dealing with the scrutiny.

"I just asked him things like what did he do and how he enjoyed the experience, because all the attention and the media was on him. I asked him how to deal with it all and he gave me some words of wisdom," Roethlisberger said.

"He told me to stay focused and that I'd get nervous and that there would be a lot of anxious feelings and to make sure to keep that under control and not let it get the best of me early," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger added, "Some guys never get to a Super Bowl and then like I said, there are people like Danny Marino who get there in their second year and don't get back. You don't take it for granted and you enjoy every opportunity."

Roethlisberger admitted he was nervous in the playoffs last year when he threw five interceptions and two touchdown passes in games against the Jets and Patriots. The Steelers escaped with a 20-17 overtime victory over the Jets and were blown out by the Patriots 41-27 in the AFC title game. …