Ben Roethlisberger has had a fascinating NFL career. The winner of two Super bowls during his early years, the QB became a complicated figure off the field. Part of this has to do with his reputation. Others have to do with off-field issues, too. Recovering from the injury that cost him most of 2019, Roethlisberger is finally reflective of certain aspects of his life.
The Steelers QB on the field
Roethlisberger first made his name on Miami’s legendary college football team before the Steelers took a chance on him with the 11th overall pick. Initially the backup for Tommy Maddox, it did not take the quarterback long to sneak his way into a starting spot. The rookie’s impact was felt on the team immediately.
Roethlisberger led the team to a 13-0 record before losing in the conference championship to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He threw 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for 2,621 yards as a rookie, and he was just getting started. By his second year, Roethlisberger had the keys to the franchise.
While he spent some time on the bench with injuries, the team was 9-3 with Roethlisberger in the lineup, and he led them all their way to their first Super Bowl win in decades. The eyes of the world were on the QB as he made his way into the sports lexicon. Still, after a disastrous third year, many wondered if Roethlisberger was a one-hit-wonder. He silenced these critics with another Super Bowl in 2008.
While the quarterback has not won a Super Bowl in over a decade, he has consistently been among the best at his position since his days, performing even better than he did when he was champion. For all the great years he’s had, however, Roethlisberger has had to clear some hurdles.
Ben Roethlisberger faces his demons
As good as Roethlisberger was on the field, his off-the-field shenanigans began to get the wrong type of publicity. Following his second Super Bowl, reports Vice, Roethlisberger was accused of rape by two separate women in 2009 and 2010. While he was never found guilty of these crimes, his reputation took a hit. Around this time, Roethlisberger was struggling with other vices, too.
Roethlisberger admitted that he has struggled with addiction at various times throughout his life on several different levels.
“I’ve fallen as short as anybody,” Roethlisberger said at the ManUp conference in Pittsburgh per Trib Live. “I’ve been addicted to alcohol … addicted to pornography, which makes me then not the best husband, not the best father, not the best Christian I can be… You have to dedicate yourself and understand that you can get out of it because of the grace of God.”
Roethlisberger admitted to the audience that he lost his way when he went out on his own at college. It wasn’t until his marriage to Ashley Harlan in 2011 that he began to see the error in his ways and revisit his Christian upbringing.
“It wasn’t like I stopped believing,” Roethlisberger said (per Trib Live), “but you’re not sharpening your skills. I’m still praying here and there, but I wasn’t as strong of a Christian in college as I wish I would have been.”
Now 38, Roethlisberger’s days as an NFL quarterback are likely numbered. However, as he works his way back onto the field, he uses that same faith that got him out of his addiction to recover from his age and injuries.
Preparing for the new season
Roethlisberger is prepared to come back after his season-ending injury during week two of the 2019 season. While the COVID-19 outbreak put a damper on offseason workouts, Roethlisberger has been doing everything he can to make sure that he is ready for some football when the new season kicks off. One preparation he took, however, did not sit well with people.
When Roethlisberger made good on a deal that he would trim his beard once he could throw more NFL passes, reports Penn Live, he did so under strict guidelines by the county not to go to the barber. He justified this by saying that he was given the trim as a favor, not a business transaction. However, with a pandemic on the run, this excuse did not sit well with many.
Roethlisberger will never be beloved the way he once was. His brashness and his troubling past put a target on his back. Hopefully, his words about improvement are more than talk. Either way, this type of introspection is a step in the right direction for the future Hall of Famer.