Talent matters more than pedigree in NFL

Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich are proof that small-school players can succeed in the NFL.

Updated: December 6, 2004, 4:28 PM ET
By Joe Theismann | ESPN Insider
Joe ponders a few questions over his Monday morning cup.

Small college quarterbacks getting the job done

It was a pleasure watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the league go at it on Sunday Night Football. Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger didn't come from quarterback factories or from big name football programs, instead they came from colleges in the MAC.

Ben Roethlisberger
APRoethlisberger had the talent to play in the NFL and that mattered more than what college he attended.
For too long, guys from small schools have been knocked because of the lack of high-level competition in their conference. It's been assumed that a player from a small school couldn't play at a higher level because of that, but these two guys should put the final nails in the coffin of that assumption.

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Joe Theismann

Football analyst
Former college and pro football star Joe Theismann has served as an analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Football since 1988. He also is frequently heard on ESPN Radio, regularly contributes to ESPN.com and has contributed to the NFL Draft.