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Ben Roethlisberger discusses past addictions to alcohol, pornography


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SportsPulse: Mackenzie Salmon connected with Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner to see how he and the team are preparing for the season amidst the pandemic. He also had some encouraging things to say about Ben Roethlisberger’s progress.

USA TODAY

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, speaking at a faith-based virtual event called “ManUp Pittsburgh” over the weekend, explained his prior addictions to alcohol and pornography.

During his 15-minute speaking time with former Steelers player Tunch Ilkin, Roethlisberger said, via ESPN, “it’s not always easy. 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.”

ManUp Pittsburgh is an annual event hosted by Urban Impact with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Roethlisberger detailed how he grew distant from his Christian faith during his college years at Miami (Ohio) and remained afar during his first professional seasons. He was twice accused of sexual assault and the NFL suspended him for six games in the 2010 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. 

The two-time Super Bowl champion and his wife, Ashley, married in 2011. Their marriage and their three children, Roethlisberger explained, brought him back to his faith. He was re-baptized three years ago.

“I want it to be known to all of the young men out there,” he said. “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.”

Even in dealing with an elbow injury that forced him to miss nearly all of 2019, Roethlisberger found comfort through his newfound relationship with God.

“I don’t know that I would’ve been able to handle (the injury) a few years ago, five, six, seven, 10 years ago,” he said. “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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