The ManUp Pittsburgh conference takes place every year, led by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and a number of speakers who discuss religion, fatherhood and a number of other important issues. The 2020 event was held on Saturday, June 20 in an online program, and though coronavirus kept the event from being held in person, the lessons and takeaways were as strong as ever.
One speaker was Ben Roethlisberger, and the veteran quarterback and future Hall of Famer spoke candidly on how religion impacted his life and helped him through some rough patches and difficult personal struggles. You can watch his whole interview, as well as the rest of the conference, for free on the ManUp Pittsburgh Crowd Cast here (h/t Curt Popejoy of USA Today).
"People don't realize all the time that, us athletes, we're human," Roethlisberger said. "We sin like everyone else, and I am no different. We make mistakes. We get addicted to things... we're human.
"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."
Roethlisberger's past struggles have been well-documented, including accusations of sexual misconduct in 2010 for which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him four games. After receiving his punishment, the quarterback stated that he had "put a lot of thought into (his) life" and the decisions that he had made, and was thankful for a second chance. Big Ben has since stayed out of any trouble.
At the ManUp Pittsburgh conference, Roethlisberger credited his faith with allowing him to realize that he didn't have to be perfect and that he finds it important to recognize that everyone falls short, and that's okay.
Roethlisberger additionally mentioned how his wife, Ashley Harlan, helped influence his decision to get more involved with religion again as he was earlier in his life.
"I wasn't as strong of a Christian in college as I wish I would have been," Roethlisberger said. "Then when you get to the NFL, all the sudden the same thing happens... now there's this new fame and all these things are coming at you.
"I never got back to that path of where I wanted to be and how I was raised to be until I found my wife and she really helped me get back to it."
He was baptized three years ago and says that rediscovering his faith has led to "joy" and "happiness" as an adult.
Though his elbow injury had nothing to do with the religious aspect of his appearance, Big Ben also stated that "everything's going great" and that he's still getting into the swing of things though his recovery is "ahead of schedule."