Roethlisberger aims to rewrite legacy
As Ben Roethlisberger's charmed life appeared to be crashing down around him, following a second accusation of sexual assault, he turned to his Bible.
"The first thing I read, the very first thing, was about the shepherd who loses one sheep. He goes out, finds it and leaves his whole flock and goes to find it," the Steelers' quarterback said Tuesday. "And that's so true."
That passage is relevant to the transformation Roethlisberger has made since last March. He said he has found his religion after straying from it amid the rapid rise the two-time Super Bowl winner made to stardom.
Roethlisberger has been more accommodating to fans and reporters since the start of training camp and has been more open with his teammates.
He said he is at peace with himself following a turbulent offseason in which he avoided criminal charges in Milledgeville, Ga., but nearly threw away his Steelers career.
Others have noticed the change as well.
"Earlier in his career, he left the building and a lot of people didn't know what he did," veteran wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He was just secluded by himself, but now he's opening himself up to guys. He's joking around with everybody, rookies included. He's a different guy."
Roethlisberger talked with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review during a one-on-one interview Tuesday. Here are highlights from the interview.
How do you assure fans that the new Ben is here to stay, that this isn't part of a script for someone who is trying to save his career?
Actions always speak louder than words. And I've known from day one this is not going to be an overnight process. You're not going to win people back overnight. You're not going to win all of them back, period. But, like I said, my actions will speak volumes over the next days, weeks, months and years. I really believe that and I think people will (believe it), even the hard-headed ones that won't give me a chance. Over the years of seeing me and seeing that it's not just talk, more people will come around.
You said you are more at peace with yourself. Why?
It's a calming feeling when the Lord runs your life. And it's something I've always known as a church person, but I've never really believed it. I think I've known it but never believed it. And now I know it, and it's a great thing.
When athletes talk about finding religion, it produces its share of eye-rolling. Do you expect that reaction from fans?
It's OK. I'm not going to be going out there and trying to push it on people and make it seem like all of a sudden I am this great person. That's not who I am. That's not what religion and faith is all about. You're not going to see me getting cross tattoos and wearing cross necklaces. That's not what it's about. So if they want to roll their eyes, that's fine. Because I know where I am at and God knows where I'm at, and that's all that really matters.
You are human. You are going to have bad days. How do you sustain this new Ben?
Nothing in life is easy. I wear this bracelet, 'Live like you were dying.' And every day you deal with it. I think when you have calmness and a peace and a love for your family, friends, football, your day; it makes things easier. And that's what is making this fun. This has helped me. During this time I hope to coach at a high school, volunteer. And taking it back to what it used to be, and how it really is and how fun football should be. Because I think I lost that a little bit with the business. Yes, it's a business, but it's supposed to be about having fun and playing football. That's what I'm getting back to.
Do you still want to tell your side of the story about what happened in Georgia?
I doubt I will ever even talk about it again. It's a bunch of chapters in my life that have closed and I am moving forward. I don't think you need to dwell on things in the past, just like football. You throw an interception, you move on. You have a bad season; you've got to move on because if you dwell on those things, it will bring you down. So to me, it's over. It's all about moving on and playing football.
You have the chance to write one of the greatest redemption stories of all time. Do you ever think about that?
In a way, but I got my redemption. For me, it's about other things. I want people to talk about when I am done with my career how great of a person I was. Did I have my faults• Did I make mistakes• Yes, everyone does. But look at who he really is. Look who he became when he grew up and matured. How did he finish up his career, and who is he now as a person.
If you were writing the rest of the Ben Roethlisberger story, how would you write it?
The fun part I think is that it's only a quarter or a third of the way done. I don't want to say, 'To be continued' right now. But I still think there's a lot of chapters left in this story.