Big Ben honors fallen state trooper
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger met the media Wednesday donning a hat with the words "State Trooper" across the front. It was a show of respect to Cpl. Joe Pokorny, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last Monday.
"I send my thoughts and prayers out to his family. Especially this season, it's tough to lose someone," Roethlisberger said. "I know how it is this time of year."
Roethlisberger lost his mother, Ida, at the age of 8 because complications following a car accident.
Pokorny, 45, was the father of two teenagers, and his brother, "Fearless" Frank Pokorny, played wide receiver and special teams for the Steelers in '85 and '86.
A funeral will be held for Cpl. Pokorny Friday.
"I didn't know him, but I knew a couple of people who were real close to him," said Roethlisberger, who is friends with a number of police officers and state troopers.
The second-year quarterback sent a thank you out to emergency workers before turning his attention to Sunday's game in Minnesota that has serious playoff implications for the Steelers (8-5) and Vikings (8-5).
The loser could miss the postseason.
Although the game will be played in the 70-degree warmth of Minnesota's Metrodome, Roethlisberger will continue to wear gloves on both hands. He's been sporting them the past two weeks after injuring his throwing thumb Nov. 28 against the Indianapolis Colts.
The glove on his throwing hand supports the apparatus he's been using to stabilize the thumb.
His totals while donning the gloves: 42 of 61 (69 percent) for 559 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. His record is 1-1, with a 21-9 win last Sunday against the Bears and a 28-20 loss to Cincinnati.
"We're going to be inside (practicing) this week, and it will be warm," Roethlisberger said. "The hand will probably sweat a little bit, but we'll make it work."
Last week, in a 27-13 victory at the Metrodome, the Vikings induced five interceptions out of Rams rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"They're a re-surging team," Roethlisberger said of the Vikings, who've won six consecutive games.
The Steelers broke a three-game losing streak last weekend.
"I think (the win) helped and gave us a little, just a little bit of a push, a little bit of energy, of excitement," Roethlisberger said. "Not too much. But it was nice, offensively, to be out there and play as well as we did and really re-establish the running game."