Bradshaw to Roethlisberger: 'I got your back'
ARLINGTON, Texas — A rift between the two greatest quarterbacks in Steelers history apparently has been mended.
Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger met privately before Super Bowl media day at Cowboys Stadium, and the two shook hands and hugged afterward.
The two talked for about 10 minutes Tuesday morning before doing a 25-minute interview for FOX, which is broadcasting Super Bowl XLV.
"We both came to a conclusion that we're Steelers and we're part of that family, and I encouraged him and I got his back and I support him 100 percent," said Bradshaw, an NFL studio analyst for FOX.
The quarterbacks who have won all six of the Steelers' Super Bowl titles have had a chilly relationship since 2006, when Bradshaw publicly chided Roethlisberger for riding a motorcycle.
That was nothing compared to Bradshaw's criticism after a 20-year-old college student accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her last March in Milledgeville, Ga.
Bradshaw, who has 23- and 21-year-old daughters, said Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr. would have gotten rid of Roethlisberger following the quarterback's second sexual assault accusation in nine months.
Bradshaw reiterated that opinion earlier this week in an interview with the New York Post. But he also reached out to Steelers president Art Rooney II in an attempt to make peace with Roethlisberger.
Bradshaw said he told Rooney, the grandson of Rooney Sr., that he wanted to interview Roethlisberger for FOX. The two chatted before the interview behind closed doors, and Roethlisberger said it was the longest they had ever spoken.
"It was a good talk, so I think everything's good," Roethlisberger said. "I think Terry maybe spoke a little too soon (in the past) without knowing some of the things and facts. He's entitled to his opinion; he works for the media."
Bradshaw said his job is to be opinionated, and he had angered John Elway as well as the Manning family after he criticized Eli Manning for forcing a trade before he had played a down in the NFL. (Elway had done the same, leveraging a trade from the Baltimore Colts to Denver in 1983.)
Bradshaw said he will take Roethlisberger to task in the future if it is warranted. But he said he is firmly behind Roethlisberger and his stated goal of winning at least one more Super Bowl than Bradshaw.
Bradshaw and Joe Montana are the only quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls, and Roethlisberger has a chance to win his third Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
"I'm not shy about telling you how I feel, and I let (Roethlisberger) know that," the outspoken Bradshaw said. "But I said, 'I got your back and I'm here for you. I want you to break my records, I want you to win more Super Bowls than anybody, and there's no greater honor than for me to present you and the Rooney family another Super Bowl trophy.'"
Their chat preceded what turned out to be a relatively uneventful media day for Roethlisberger.
The one-hour sessions are most noteworthy for the no-holds-barred questions they produce. But Roethlisberger was not asked about what happened in Milledgeville or about a civil lawsuit, filed in July 2008, in which a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in Reno, Nev.
Roethlisberger seemed relaxed while holding court in one of the booths reserved for the marquee players.
Among the non-football questions he was asked were whether he likes "Jersey Shore" (he doesn't watch reality TV) and his favorite coaching cliche ("It is what it is.")
Roethlisberger said he approached media day with the idea that he would soak up the experience, despite the possible onslaught that awaited him.
"Because," he said, "you never know when it's going to be your last time."
The personal comeback story Roethlisberger is trying to author has commanded as much attention as his quest to become just the fifth quarterback to win at least three Super Bowls.
"Some of the players when (Roethlisberger's fall from grace) first happened and he came back, they just want to see him grow up a little bit and time will tell with that," said former Steelers great Rod Woodson, an analyst for NFL Network. "I would rather see Ben lose the Super Bowl and become a better person. I'm not saying he's a bad person, but for those negative things that happened outside of football to never happen again."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on ...
Changes he has made in his personal life:
"I think you always go through changes in life. I'm not really going to keep hitting this over and over because it's not time to reflect because really it's about this game. When you're faced with challenges in life, you find ways to try to overcome them. Just like when there are doubters and naysayers that challenged me in a football sense. It challenges me to rise above. So in the same way as me being a better person, people saying, 'You can't do it,' it makes me want to rise to the occasion and be the best I can be."
How he wants to be perceived:
"I think you're always taught, people ask you, 'What do you want on your obituary, your tombstone?' And I think somebody to say he's a good person, a God-fearing person that was loyal to his family and put family and God first and enjoyed the way that he played the game of football, enjoyed football and just lived every day like it was his last."
Winning "The Chief Award" for his cooperation with the Pittsburgh media this year:
"I wasn't always the nicest guy to them, and I can admit that but I know that they're doing their job. I can't take personal things they say and write. I just wanted them to know that I apologize to them for ever being difficult to work with and I hope that (winning the Rooney Award) shows that I have been better this year to work with and easier to work with. That award really meant a lot to me."
Whether he had any anxiety about the question he would be asked during Super Bowl Media Day:
"I don't know about anxiety, just trying to be prepared, trying to have an understanding of what the possibilities could be."
Media Events in Dallas
Reporters from around the world interview the Steelers during a Super Bowl XLV media sessions Wednesday and Thursday at Texas Christian University following Media Day Tuesday February 1, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
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