Ben Roethlisberger smiled when John Elway's name was brought up during his regular chat with the media on Wednesday morning in the locker room at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"That is why I wear 7," said Roethlisberger. "Because of him. A hero of mine growing up."
Elway, the President of Football Operations and General Manager for the Broncos, is one of four quarterbacks Roethlisberger has mentioned throughout the years that he watched growing up, admired their game, and tried to take a little something from them.
"He knows I wear 7 because of him," said Roethlisberger. "To me it's the same, I talk about those four quarterback, (Joe) Montana, (Dan) Marino, Elway and (Jim) Kelly, those four guys I was lucky to grow up watching them."
Roethlisberger will likely get the chance to catch up with Elway before Sunday's game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, not the first time the two have met.
But it will be the first time the two have talked since Roethlisberger passed him on the NFL's all-time passing list. Roethlisberger passed Elway, who is in ninth place with 51,475 career yards, in the team's home opener against the Chiefs. He has since moved to seventh place, with 54,267 career passing yards. Roethlisberger also passed Elway in most completions, ranking seventh with 4,435, while Elway ranks ninth with 4,123.
He also now leads Elway in game-winning drives, with 45 to his credit after the win over the Jaguars on Sunday.
"Any time you get in the record books it's humbling, it means a lot," said Roethlisberger. "When your name is close to his, and then you pass him, it's an honor.
"I joked that he could throw a ball through a car wash and it wouldn't get wet. He has such a big arm. Not really a runner, but would run. That's kind of been my game. I am not a running quarterback, but you aren't afraid to run and get the yards when you need to. Those kind of things I molded my game after.
"I wish my arm was as strong as his."
Playing in Denver is something special to Roethlisberger because of Elway's mystic there, but also because the Steelers history there as well. Roethlisberger engineered a victory there in the AFC Championship game on Jan. 22, 2006, that catapulted them to a win in Super Bowl XL.
"It's a special place because of the history, because of him," said Roethlisberger. "We have had some history there. Any time you go into a place that has had a legendary type of quarterback I grew up watching, it's kind of special.
"The championship game is a special one. That championship game was unbelievable."