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Draft a joy for this Steelers fan

By Jeffery Armstrong

The 2004 NFL Draft came and went and I have to say it was the very definition of "Must See TV."

I thoroughly enjoyed the NFL Draft last weekend, despite the fact that over-excited former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin was added to ESPN's panel of announcers. Irvin ranted and raved like he always does, but I easily tuned him out.

I was glad that Eli Manning was booed lustily when San Diego called his name and I enjoyed the fact that two players I interviewed when they were seniors in high school, Keyaron Fox of Georgia Tech and Darius Watts of Marshall, were drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, respectively. That's a good feeling to see those guys make it.

Manning cried like Nancy Kerrigan about having to play for the Chargers. With today's free agency, Manning didn't have to play in San Diego forever. From what I've heard, San Diego is a beautiful city with gorgeous women and mild temperatures. I could deal with losing in a city where I could go to the beach afterwards and frolic my pain away.

But enough of that mess. Let's get to the real reason I'm writing this column: yep, the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft. After 24 years, the Steelers finally drafted someone to be the franchise quarterback n Ben Roethlisberger of Miami of Ohio. Not only was he the Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year, he also is the man with the longest last name in pro football (14 letters). Thanks, Chris Berman.

Ben R. should finally be the quarterback to make the Steel City move forward from the memory of Terry Bradshaw, easily the greatest quarterback in Steelers history. Since Bradshaw retired, the Steelers have never truly been solid at that position. The list of Pittsburgh QBs since Bradshaw is an unspectacular one: Mark Malone, Cliff Stoudt, Neil O'Donnell, Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. There's probably a couple more, but I can't think of them at this time.

Out of all those QBs, O'Donnell was the only one to lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl in recent years. But then he tanked it in the biggest game of his career by throwing interceptions right to Larry Brown of the Dallas Cowboys, who went on to become Super Bowl MVP. Brown should've shared that award with O'Donnell; I'll go to my grave thinking he threw those interceptions on purpose and for that, he won't be forgiven by me. Sorry, but that loss hurt.

The Steelers now have a chance with this draft to erase all the pain from that Super Bowl loss and give Pittsburgh fans a world championship for the first time since 1980. It's been eight years since the Steelers have been to the Super Bowl and 24 years since they last won it and it's time for that drought to end.

The only problem I see for the joyous Pittsburgh media covering the Steelers in this upcoming era is having to write the word Roethlisberger over and over in their stories.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.