Maybe it's the legal issues. Perhaps it's the unorthodox playing style. It could be his legitimately worrisome struggle to stay healthy.
Whatever the reason, Ben Roethlisberger is severely underrated. I'm writing about it because Roethlisberger was ranked No. 61 on the latest "Top 100 Players of 2013" show, but it's not just about this show. It's about how Big Ben is viewed by a large swath of the football populace.
Roethlisberger, now 31 years old, has spent nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's a career that probably will end with Roethlisberger as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, yet he's rarely talked about as one of the best quarterbacks of his era. This despite the fact that he throws perhaps the best deep ball in the NFL. He's one of the most difficult quarterbacks to get down on the ground.
It's not like Roethlisberger's numbers are poor.
Roethlisberger is sixth in NFL history in passing yards per attempt, finishing in the top three in a season six times. Only Aaron Rodgers has a higher career average among active NFL players. It feels like Roethlisberger is coming off a down year because the Steelers lost so many close games, but he still threw 26 touchdown passes with just eight interceptions. In a down year.
A lot of folks knock Roethlisberger because the Steelers carried him in Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks, but they forget he led the league in yards per attempt and touchdowns per throw that year. He's not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but that's not the point. He gives the Steelers a chance to win the title every year. He has been near the top of the quarterback game every season since 2005. He's just hitting the sweet spot of his career, where the mental side of his game is catching up to his physical abilities.
History will look back at Roethlisberger as one of the greats, but for some reason, we can't see that now.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.