Speaking over the weekend on a virtual conference for Christian men, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger acknowledged that he has battled vices off the field over the years.
“It’s not always easy,” said Roethlisberger, speaking to Tunch Ilkin, a former Steelers player and one of the event’s hosts. “People don’t realize all the time that we athletes are human. We sin like everyone else. I am no different. We make mistakes. We become addicted to things. We sin. We are human. I think sometimes we put on this pedestal where we cannot make mistakes. I have fallen as short as anyone. I have been addicted to alcohol. I have been addicted to pornography, which makes me the best husband, not the best father, not the best Christian that I can be.
“But you have to dedicate yourself and understand that you can get out of it thanks to God’s grace and from him saying, ‘Listen, you’re good enough for me as you are. You don’t have to be perfect.'”
The event, ManUp Pittsburgh, is organized annually by Urban Impact in conjunction with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. According to the group’s mission, the 90-minute conference, held virtually on Father’s Day this year, “encourages and teaches men to be godly leaders for their families, and raises awareness of the devastating impact of fatherlessness among the boys of today”. Roethlisberger was part of the most recent program, which included Tomlin and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Roethlisberger spoke about his Christian journey, adding that he was baptized three years ago, reaffirming his childhood baptism.
“Now more than ever, it’s great to be a Christian, especially professional athletes,” said Roethlisberger. “One of the things I want to tell the boys and tell the people is that I can be a good athlete and a Christian. It is neither one nor the other. I can do both. I want all young people to know men for there. It’s great to be a Christian and be an athlete. Go ahead and be the best athlete you can be and see if you can be a better Christian. And that’s what I’m trying to do now. I’m trying to be a better Christian than I am. I’m an athlete and a soccer player. I work hard every day to do it and it starts here. It’s not always easy. “
Roethlisberger’s faith has not always been at the forefront of his life. She admitted that she distanced herself during her university career in Miami (Ohio).
Later, as a professional quarterback, he was twice charged with sexual assault, and was suspended for part of the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Roethlisberger admitted to Ilkin that he used his platform for selfish reasons earlier in his career, but said he has changed to become more selfless since he grew stronger in his faith.
“Last year, we went through a crazy offseason,” he said. “All I thought was going back to the football field, and I thought, ‘God, you’re going to give me all this redemption. I’m going to go out, I’m going to prove everyone wrong, I’m going to win a Super Bowl, and we’re going to give you all the glory, and this is it. This is my year back. “And in the second game, I broke my elbow. That was God saying,” Wait, it’s not your plan to come back. It has to be my plan. ” So I had to apply the brakes.
“Those are the wake-up calls he gives us to say, ‘Wait now, don’t be selfish and do it in your time. We will do it in my time.'”
Roethlisberger said he was grateful to experience an elbow injury that ended the season last year at a time when he had a close relationship with God.
“I am so thankful that this injury occurred during my walk that I am now,” said the 38-year-old quarterback. “I don’t know if I could have handled it a few years ago, five, six, seven, 10 years. I know my faith would not have been so strong. Now that I know what it is, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, God, this is in your hands. I’m going to train to go out again, and whatever you have for me, I’m ready. ‘”