If Ben Roethlisberger wins a third Super Bowl ring, he has to be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

You will hear this said one way or another in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. And it is simply not true.

Here's the deal: Yes, winning a championship is the most important thing an athlete can do -- more important than making all-star games, winning MVP awards, or setting records. Winning should trump everything, but winning is a team thing. Using championships as a way to measure individuals against one another, or to use as a tie breaker when deciding between similar players,

is not fair and is not accurate.

History is doing no favors for Dan Marino. During his time with the Miami Dolphins, the argument was between Marino and Joe Montana as the best quarterback in the league.Despite retiring with several of the biggest NFL passing records, Marino is lagging behind guys like Bret Favre and John Elway in how history perceives him. But Favre has a ring and Elway has two(even though Elway's rings came after he was well past his prime). A few months ago the NFL Network unveiled its top 100 list of all-time best players; Marino ranked 25th overall, and 9th among quarterbacks.

An over-simplified example that I'll use is by asking this question: Who is a better quarterback, Marino or Jeff Hostetler? The answer is obvious, even though Hostetler has a ring and Marion doesn't. But Marino is by far superior ... the gray area comes when you're comparing Marino to a guy like Roethlisberger.

Let's take a minute to look at him. Roethlisberger is a proven big-moment quarterback; there is no question about that. The man has an uncanny knack of making big plays in big moments, one enormous example being his touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the final minute of Super Bowl 43.

But in his first Super Bowl, which came in his second year as a pro in 2005, Roethlisberger had one of the worst performances ever by a winning quarterback: 9-for-21, 123 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. History gives him credit for being a two-time champion, even though the Steelers won in spite of him in the first.

This argument will naturally sound like I am diminishing Roethlisberger, which is not my intent. What I want to do with him -- and with every athlete, and every team -- is judge him accurately. He's not the greatest ever, and he's certainly not the worst. He's a very good quarterback who has the ability to raise his game at the most important times.That's a quality that's hard to measure statistically, and it's a huge quality. But at the end of the day, Roethlisberger could win this Super Bowl and a few more, and I'll still consider Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,and Drew Brees as superior quarterbacks when all of their careers are done.

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