Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke, over the weekend, during a virtual conference for Christian men and discussed how his faith has helped him deal with off the field issues he has dealt with over the years.
Roethlisberger, 38, participated in the conference with Tunch Ilkin, a former Steelers player and one of the event’s hosts, and spoke at length about the topic. The event, called ManUp Pittsburgh, is hosted annually by Urban Impact in connection with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
“It’s not always easy,” Roethlisberger said, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “People don’t realize all the time that us athletes, we’re human. We sin like everybody else. I am no different. We make mistakes. We get addicted to things. We sin. We’re human. I think sometimes we get put on this pedestal where we can’t make mistakes. I’ve fallen as short as anybody. I’ve been addicted to alcohol. I’ve been addicted to pornography, which makes me then not the best husband, not the best father, not the best Christian I can be.
“But you have to dedicate yourself and understand that you can get out of it because of the grace of God and him saying, ‘Listen, you’re good enough for me the way you are. You don’t have to be perfect.'”
Roethlisberger than spoke about his faith, and how important it has been for him.
“Now more than ever, it’s cool to be a Christian, especially professional athletes,” Roethlisberger said.
“One of the things I want to tell guys and tell people out there, I can be a really good athlete and a Christian. It’s not one or the other. I can do both. I want it to be known to all of the young men out there. It’s cool to be 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 athlete and football player. I push myself every day to do that, and it starts here. It’s not always easy.”
Roethlisberger would admit how earlier in his career he used his platform for selfish reasons, but now he is looking to be more selfless, thanks to his faith.
“Last year, we went through a crazy offseason,” Roethlisberger said. “All I thought about was getting back on the football field, and I was like, ‘God, you’re going to give me all this redemption. I’m going to go out there, I’m going to prove everybody 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 comeback year.’ And the second game, I tear my elbow. That was God being like, ‘Hold on, it’s not your plan of coming back. It’s got to be my plan.’ So I had to pump the brakes.
“Those are the wake-up calls that he gives us to say, ‘Hold on now — don’t be selfish and do it on your time. We’re doing it on my time.'”
Roethlisberger would go on to discuss his injury last season, and the importance his faith played in his recovery.
“I’m so thankful that this injury happened during my walk that I’m in now,” Roethlisberger said.
“I don’t know that I would’ve been able to handle it a few years ago, five, six, seven, 10 years ago. I know that my faith wouldn’t have been as strong. Now that I know what it’s about, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, God, this is in your hands. I’m going to go train my butt off to get back out there, and whatever you have for me, I’m ready.'”