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Ben Roethlisberger says Terry Bradshaw's words hurt

Ben Roethlisberger has been featured prominently in our early MVP watch. The stats haven't quite exploded yet, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are just 2-2, but we believe Big Ben is playing at a higher level now than ever before in his NFL career.

Roethlisberger is carrying the Steelers and their shortcomings more than ever. The mental part of his game has improved, and his physical skills have yet to decline. He has overcome a terrible offensive line and an inferior running game. His wide receivers have hurt him with uncharacteristic drops, but he has been accurate.

Another 4,000-yard season seems inevitable, and Roethlisberger will break Terry Bradshaw's franchise record for passing yards along the way. It could happen Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans. He's just 300 yards away, but Roethlisberger hasn't heard from Bradshaw despite an "intermediary" trying to connect them, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Roethlisberger praised Bradshaw as "The Guy" in Pittsburgh and said it will be an honor to pass him. But the two men haven't had a good relationship going back to some comments Bradshaw made when Roethlisberger was embroiled in an alleged sexual assault.

"We haven't talked," Roethlisberger said of Bradshaw. "I've never had an issue (with him). He said a bunch of things in the past about me; it hurts a little bit when you think about family, but I've never been one to say anything to him or at him."

Roethlisberger is almost taken for granted, but he's one of the best five quarterbacks in the NFL. Thursday night's showcase and possible Steelers record will be a reminder of how much he already has accomplished at age 30.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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