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Transcript of the KDKA Interview between Bob Pompeani and Ben Roethlsiberger

Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is opening up about his struggles and recent off-the-field troubles in a special one-on-one interview with KDKA’s Bob Pompeani. Ben spoke with Bob this week at his family’s farm, which has been his place for reflection during what he described as the lowest point of his entire life.

“This isn’t something you plan on,” Roethlisberger told KDKA. “I’ve said a thousand times before, when I was in the backyard being Joe Montana throwing touchdown passes to Jerry Rice in the Super Bowl, that’s all you thought about. You didn’t think about the scrutiny of the life you would live.”

KDKA’s Bob Pompeani: Would you say this is the hardest thing you’ve ever dealt with in your life?

Ben Roethlisberger: “Yes, I’d say just because I’m older now; but you know, I lost my mother at eight so you’re almost too young to understand — so I don’t know how you can compare something like this to losing a family member, but I would say yes.”

Bob:  It seems like there is a culture of athletic entitlement or at least you’re built up to a certain level — and it may not even be your choosing, but you are. Did you yourself get caught up in the ‘Big Ben’ persona?

Ben: “It was something I didn’t know how to deal with. I had never experienced anything like it before… The second year, winning the Super Bowl and that Big Ben just kept building up and I think it ended up coming off the field and as the years kept going it just kept taking over Ben Roethlisberger. So Superman kept taking over Clark Kent and you never saw who Ben Roethlisberger was anymore.”

Bob:  So you got caught up in that?

Ben:  “Looking back on it I can see that. At the time I didn’t really see it, but looking back on it now it’s like the Toby Mac song, ‘I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.’  I was gaining everything but I was losing who I was, who I was raised to be, and it was really tough. Like I said, at the time I didn’t see it but looking back on it, gee, it was really obvious, and it was tough. I mean like I said you get thrown into from small town Findlay, Ohio to all of a sudden you’re in Pittsburgh and everyone knows about Steelers fans and the Steelers reputation and tradition and to get thrown into that so fast I got so overwhelmed it consumed me.”

Some have wondered if alcohol was consuming him, too.

Bob:  Alcohol seemed to play in incidents. Have you ever had an issue with alcohol and will the new Ben make alcohol no priority?

Ben:  “I can honestly say that in my real mother’s side of the family they have an alcohol problem; but growing up we never saw the family, we never did it, I never even saw it in the house. My dad loves to cook and I’ve never even seen him cook with wine and I know that’s a big thing to do. I can honestly say that, no it’s not an issue because my dad was so adamant that it not be in the house and even when I was in college my sister was still in the house so we never had it in there. So I can say that no it was not an issue. But moving forward you have to make sure you make right decisions, and that right decision is going to have to be something I’ll have to make when the situation presents itself, how the situation presents itself.  You can’t stop living but you gotta live smarter.”

Roethlisberger says he is working to become a new person and a role model.

While he admits to making mistakes, he says he’s committed to making it up to his family, his teammates and to Steelers fans.

He says the experience has actually made his relationship with his family even stronger.

“I think it brought us closer, truthfully.  Like I said it’s been nice coming back to who I am, coming back to Ben Roethlisberger the person my parents raised me to be, coming back into my faith.

“I got a little lost there for a couple of years; but I remember sitting out here with my dad on the farm a couple of months ago and we were talking about everything and how I got kind of lost and he looked at me and we both kind of broke down and he said, ‘It’s good to have my son back.’  And that just killed me, it just, it was emotional and in a way it feels good to be back, it feels good to be back to who I am and the son I’m proud to be with them.”

But Roethlisberger knows that fans who were once proud to wear his jersey and sing his praises are now ashamed and disappointed.

“You know I’ve got a long way to go to make it up to those kids and the parents that don’t want their children to idolize me now,” he added, “but I’m committed to doing that, to being — I’m always committed to being the best I can on the football field, I don’t think that’s ever changed, and I don’t think anyone’s ever questioned that of me. But now I’m committed more to being a better person off the field in the community just as a person in general. And that’s my new goal to be the best that I can be off the field.”

Roethlisberger says he’s totally committed to making that change. “One-hundred percent.  And I know people will say — let the actions speak. Just give me the chance to show that you’ll see a new Ben.”?

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Rhonda

    June 10, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    This was an awesome interview. I believe Ben has changed and is sincere. thank you for the freat article.

  2. Rhonda

    June 10, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Sorry about that –GREAT ARTICLE and INTERVIEW!!

  3. Sonja W.

    June 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I agree with Rhonda. I will continue to pray for Ben.

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