by Michael Stephens

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger started growing a “good-luck” beard after a loss to Cincinnati dropped his Steelers to 7-5 in December. Eight consecutive wins and a Super Bowl title later, it looks like the beard did the trick. But all good things must come to an end.

David Letterman did the honors during Big Ben’s Late Show appearance this week, finally removing the unkempt light brown facial hair that the signal-caller had been growing since the last time his team lost.

“I was so mad that we lost the game,” Roethlisberger said of the loss to the Bengals. “I kind of went into a depression and didn’t shave and we ended up winning the next game. And I am kind of superstitious — just a little bit to people who know me — but we won that game and I said I am just going to keep it going until we lose and we kept it going. I don’t really like the beard you know. But we were winning so I had to keep it going.”

Letterman replied in his typical deadpan style, saying that the scraggly Roethlisberger “looks like a million bucks.”

The 23-year old led Pittsburgh to four straight wins to close out the regular season and clinch the final berth in the AFC playoffs. He engineered road wins over Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver, then became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl when the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 last Sunday night.

Ben won’t put up gaudy numbers in Pittsburgh, so you don’t want to waste a second-round pick on him, likable and effective as he may be. You could do worse as a later-round pick in your draft, however. In his first two seasons, he has thrown for just over 5,000 yards, with 34 TDs and 20 INTs. Roethlisberger is also efficient, compiling a career 98.3 passer rating.

Clean shaven or not, keep him on your radar screen for 2006.



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