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Super Bowl foundations built on quarterback-coordinator bond

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pittsburgh's bye week occurred in mid-October, five games into its season. That gave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians the chance for an in-season treat. They flew on a jet fetched by Roethlisberger to Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., to resort homes each of them own.

A summit ensued.

"We've been there before, and I am so glad B.A. told me about the place," Roethlisberger said Tuesday at Super Bowl XLIII Media Day. "It is a wonderful, quiet, beautiful place. We went out on the golf course and competed against each other. We talked a lot, about some football, but not all. He shared with me some of the coaches he had worked for and how that shaped his philosophies. I learned a lot more about what he was thinking about a few things, including our offense. I shared some things with him. A great meeting and time. Absolutely."

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Kurt Warner said he is always text-messaging Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley to chat about new formations, new plays, subtle wrinkles. Haley said he and the Cardinals' quarterback average 50 texts per day, on top of the daily hours they spend together in routine football work. Warner said his wife, Brenda, gets a little jealous of their incessant communication. Haley said he might be sitting at home trying to watch "The Bachelor" or another TV show with his wife, and the texts keep coming, he keeps answering, and his wife, Chrissy, is not happy.

"We've been so close," Warner said. "We have built a cohesion, an understanding, that is exemplified throughout our team in the understanding of what players see and what coaches want. You're investing a lot, but it's worth it when it's evident how that concept works throughout your team."

Coach and quarterback. Teacher and pupil.

The quarterback's confidant.

That is what both teams have in Super Bowl XLIII, fruitful relationships between their quarterbacks and their offensive coordinators. That has helped blossom their quarterbacks' styles and production and helped push Roethlisberger and Warner to this NFL season's indispensable game.

Since quarterbacks color the personalities of their teams, since they absorb too much credit and receive too much blame, since the NFL is regarded as a "quarterback-driven league," they must have a safe football place to turn. There has to be a voice, a listening ear, a place to dump all of that pressure. Some place to build a reservoir of fresh confidence. Some place to indiscreetly tinker in the various variables and nuances of their offense, to help get their mind right to reach maximum game-day performance.

For Roethlisberger, it is Arians. For Warner, it is Haley.

"That relationship is so critical to success," Haley said. "It requires a great amount of trust both ways. I can call all the plays I want in a game, and Kurt can be out there in the huddle with the team, and if he is just hearing this voice in his helmet, it does not mean as much.

"When I was with the Jets (1996-2000), I used to watch Dan Henning do it with his quarterback, Vinny Testaverde. I remember the level of their communication, how far reaching and serious it was, and I used to think, 'Wow! That's a great relationship.' We're in the office and on the field all day, but for what we do, it isn't enough. Not when you want what Kurt wants -- he wants to win the Super Bowl again. He is ultra-competitive. He is constantly re-thinking things, and he gets frustrated. He vents to me. That venting part comes a couple of times a week. It might be a play, the way a receiver ran a route, an interception he threw. He wants to get to the bottom of things that way."

Warner said he has gained particular enjoyment in this season from the way Haley and coach Ken Whisenhunt and the entire offense has let him be involved in every mental aspect of the offense. Warner said he relishes the game on the field, but the mental action off of it is something he appreciates, something he desires.

Arians said Roethlisberger is ready for Super Bowl XLIII.

Ready right now.

"I see it in his practices, his decisions, the way he is handling the offensive line, a great job all of last week and this week," Arians said. "We talk a lot every day. I'm always looking to see if he is getting the bigger picture. I might show him a photo of a defense, a play, and ask him, 'Well, this is the picture, but what do you see?' There is a huge difference in a picture and what the quarterback sees.

"This relationship with the quarterback is not force-fed. You don't try to make them into robots. You have to have a flexible-enough offense that he can impact daily. Ben is doing that. He's relaxed."

It showed near the conclusion of Roethlisberger's media-day session. He laughed and joked with his backup, Byron Leftwich, after Leftwich tossed a question his way.

"The last time I was up here, it was overwhelming," Roethlisberger said. "I'm having fun with you media guys. What's next?"

Next is a Super Bowl to be played.

One that should offer a couple of quarterbacks who are not tremendously uptight, having cast and shared some of that pressure with men who coach them.

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