April 17, 2004

Hitting that iceberg

A 4/16/2004 column in the Philadelphia Daily News by Paul Domowitch discusses the pro football prospects of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. One of the issues is that he didn't start playing the position until his senior year in high school. Roethlisberger is quoted as spinning this in an optimistic direction:

"Quarterbacks that have been playing the position their whole lives, they get to a certain point and can't get much better," he says. "I'm just starting to hit the iceberg. I think I still have a lot of developing that I can do. I still believe I can get a lot better."

"Starting to hit the iceberg" is what you might call a "rarely used cliché." It seems to be a blend of the expression "starting to hit [one's] stride" and the notion that most of the mass of an iceberg is hidden below the waterline.

Mr. Roethlisberger is clearly the fond parent of the phrase -- unless it was written for him by an agent -- since the only other instance in google's index of "starting to hit the iceberg" is in an interview with him posted on the Chicago Bears site:

Q: Since you started so late as a QB, how much better can you get?
A: "That's the thing. A lot of people talk about quarterbacks who played their whole lives and can't get much better. I'm just starting to hit the iceberg and get going. I have a lot of development I can do, so I believe I can get a lot better."

As a fan of tragic drama as well as football, I'm rooting for "starting to hit the iceberg" to become established as a way to describe the early successes of a star's career.

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 17, 2004 05:35 AM