This offseason has certainly presented and interesting and personal journey for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who since concluding the 2016 season with a heart-wrenching loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game has seriously contemplated retirement, been inducted into his hometown hall of fame, and made amends with that self-same city.
The latter may in fact be the most significant on a personal level, and some details have finally been revealed about his remarks that he gave, off the cuff, during his induction speech. The Findlay-raised Roethlisberger entered with the 2017 class along with his sister, Carlee, in order to sweeten the pot for his return.
The relationship between the star quarterback and the town in which he spend his most formative years soured since he became a professional athlete, and bridges were nearly burned to the ground in the aftermath of his being accused of rape in an incident in 2010.
Roethlisberger has spoken previously about how he allowed the voices of the dissenters to drown out all the of the support that he continued to receive from his home town, and that it took a long time, and prodding from his wife, for him to realize that.
“There’s always been a lot of love from Findlay. That’s why I wanted to show my love for them”, he said according to Jeremy Fowler.
He said during his speech that “some negative things were said about me by people in this town. I was hurt and I resented that”. But he added, “I want to say I’m sorry for letting a few bad words cloud the support I’ve had from so many people”.
“I’m proud of this town. It means a lot to me and my family to be embraced with open arms like this”, the Steelers quarterback continued in his remarks. “I’m humble and I’m proud to call Findlay home”, and as part of that process, his official home town in the team’s game book was changed back to Findlay.
“You never change the opinion of some people. That’s the way it goes, no matter what you do”, he said later. “So if there’s anybody who was on the fence” about him and his past, “we were able to let some people know I really do care and that it’s not above me to say sorry”.
There probably was a time earlier in his career when he was winning Super Bowls as though they were going out of style that he did, indeed, feel as though he was above saying he was sorry. He was the face of the franchise, after all, so anything that he did would be accepted, or at least tolerated.
But that wasn’t the case in his home town, where the people knew who he was better than anybody, and they would hold his feet to the fire. It took him a long time to realize that. But as he winds his football career down to a close, he has finally learned to understand, and to be open to remorse as well as forgiveness.