Speaking at the ManUp Pittsburgh virtual conference for Christian men on Father's Day, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shared the story of how he has overcome addiction during his NFL career, ESPN reported.
"It's not always easy," Roethlisberger said to Tunch Ilkin, a former Steelers player who hosted the event, reported by ESPN. "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."
The event, which also included Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, was a way for the quarterback to not only share his faults throughout his life but also detail the work he's done to learn and become better because of it.
Specifically, Roethlisberger credited his faith with playing a large role in helping him make it through some of the darker times. Now, he's looking to share that message with other athletes and people who may be dealing with struggles of their own.
"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," Roethlisberger said. "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."
The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback has had plenty of success throughout his NFL career. At the same time, the veteran has dealt with his fair share of problems off it. Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault multiple times, which resulted in him being suspended for six games in 2010 due to a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy.
While in the midst of his struggles, Roethlisberger noted that his mind was never in the right place. Rather than focusing on who he was as a person, his biggest concern was always football. While the game is still important to him, he's now understanding that there are other areas he can succeed in as well.
Even after suffering a season-ending injury early in the 2019 season, his new outlook on life allowed him to take the news in stride. Now preparing for the upcoming season, he's grateful for the time off. In the past, it may have deeply impacted him, but he's now ready to handle whatever comes next.
"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.'"
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