Some didn’t make it through a season. Others were done by the end of the decade. Some had long careers but have since retired. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ top pick in the 2004 NFL Draft is not only still playing, he’s still among the best at his craft.
Yes, you have to go back a ways to recall a time when Ben Roethlisberger rookie cards were something new. He’s lasted long enough to catch a fresh wave of interest in a hot market for sports cards. While he isn’t the first name that comes to mind in a list of the top 20th century football rookie cards, Big Ben will be remembered as one of the best players of his generation.
The Roethlisberger Report
The big, unheralded, quarterback out of Miami of Ohio with the long last name was selected with the 11th overall pick.
In what will go down as one of the best quarterback draft classes of the last 20 years, Roethlisberger has, over time, put his name atop of said impressive draft list ahead of the likes of fellow future Hall of Famers Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and others.
Roethlisberger quickly proved his worth by picking up the AP, Pepsi and Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writer’s of America Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
He cemented his name in Pittsburgh Steelers history by leading the team to the promised land, capturing a Super Bowl title in only his second season in the league as the Steelers topped the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. He became the youngest quarterback in league history to accomplish the feat.
History repeated itself two years later when he led the Steelers to a second Super Bowl title under his reign, besting the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
With the seemingly revolving door of skill position players in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger has been the one constant. Over the past 16 seasons the Lima, Ohio native has proven himself year in and year out to be one of the most consistent quarterbacks in NFL history.
The 2020 season has been an incredibly special one for the already spoiled fans of the city of Pittsburgh as the team sits as the last undefeated team in the league. All of Western Pennsylvania (and the incredibly passionate fans supporting the team countrywide) have their sights set on capturing yet another Lombardi Trophy for the Rooney Family to hoist in early February.
In this dive into Roethlisberger rookie cards, we spread it around the field and offer three tiers of the best bang for the buck. Don’t be surprised if in your pursuit of these cards, though, that you see many of them bringing prices well above stated book value.
Future Hall of Fame Tier
2004 Playoff Contenders #106 Ben Roethlisberger AU/541 RC
Quite possibly the most iconic rookie card for the Steelers quarterback comes from the equally iconic Playoff Contenders product. With an incredibly short print run from that era, this one is about as good as it gets, despite the sticker autograph. They are available but be prepared to pay at least a four figure price for a nice one.
2004 SP Authentic #213 Ben Roethlisberger JSY AU RC
This one hails from a well executed and popular Upper Deck product from the late 90s and early 2000s. The SP Authentic auto is on-card. Coupled with a nice multi-colored swatch and a slim print run of under 300, it’s a strong play. The image of a young Ben mean mugging for the camera just adds to its already sky high appeal. You can usually find a few available online, despite the low print run.
2004 Ultimate Collection #127 Ben Roethlisberger AU RC
This high-end rookie card comes from one of the most high-end products of its time and from yet another Upper Deck gem of a product known as Ultimate Collection. This card also features an on card autograph and a very low serial numbered print run, which means while they do pop up for sale but they’re not cheap.
With the price tag of packs and boxes and the quality of the cards, this example definitely fits the bill as a top tier, higher end Ben Roethlisberger rookie card.
Multiple Super Bowl Champ Tier
2004 SPx #220 Ben Roethlisberger JSY AU/375 RC
This card hails from another extremely popular and widely desired Upper Deck product (do you see a pattern yet?) from the late 1990s early 2000s in SPx. As was the M.O. of SPx during its existence, the card offers a nice rookie autograph with a jersey piece with a low serial number of 375.
The SPx signature style of the horizontal card design is found here. One of the sharper Ben Roethlisberger rookies to acquire, this one can be had, but high grade copies require a fairly strong investment.
2004 Bowman Chrome #111 Ben Roethlisberger AU/199 RC
With a pretty lengthy history, Bowman Chrome carries a lot of weight, even with Topps no longer in the football card-making business. The 2004 Roethlisberger autographed rookie card got the classic chromium design with an on-card signature. The brand recognition and the autograph coupled with the fact that fewer than 200 copies exist should put this one on your radar.
2004 Fleer Authentix #134 Ben Roethlisberger RC/Bill Cowher AU
Just the sheer coolness and uniqueness factors land this one in the second tier of Roethlisberger rookies. Yes, it seems a little strange today, but to have a Roethlisberger rookie that features his long time Hall of Fame head coach Bill Cowher’s autograph is a very cool and unique angle and one we haven’t really seen since. The game ticket idea is displayed in the card design with a cut Cowher signature.
This one can usually be had for well under $100, which seems like a more than reasonable cost.
Miami of Ohio Tier
2004 Absolute Memorabilia #227 Ben Roethlisberger RPM RC
To find a reasonably priced Ben Roethlisberger true rookie card that has an event worn jersey piece and an event used football on it is a solid find to be sure. To find it at prices like these makes it worthy of this list.
2004 Topps #311 Ben Roethlisberger RC
The classic flagship Topps rookie card could make an appearance on every single player’s shortlist. This particular one has seen growth as cards on the upper levels have increased over the months and years.
Nothing flashy here. Just a Rookie Photo Shoot posed shot framed by a white border, with bold letters at the top. Of course, there are parallels to chase if you want something a little more limited, but it’s one of those cards where it’s easy to track values because of a strong supply at the highest grade levels. It’s hard to see this one ever not being in demand. Ungraded examples are very inexpensive.
2004 Upper Deck #204 Ben Roethlisberger Star Rookie RC
er’s rookie card that won’t break the bank. It shows a very young QB posed against a wall of a stadium, which is a little different, but it’s a nice, close up shot and the colors are great. These, too, can be acquire for a modest investment.
What’s everyone else chasing? You can check out an up-to-the-minute list of the best Ben Roethlisberger cards from all years up for auction on eBay via the top 50 ‘most watched’ rundown below.