Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been an outspoken Christian football player for years. This year at a virtual conference for Christian men, the Pittsburgh player shared the personal fights he has faced, including addiction to pornography and alcohol.

“It’s not always easy,” Roethlisberger said, talking to Tunch Ilkin, a former Steelers player and one of the event’s hosts. “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.

“But you have to dedicate yourself and understand that you can get out of it because of the grace of God and him saying, ‘Listen, you’re good enough for me the way you are. You don’t have to be perfect.'”

The event, ManUp Pittsburgh, is hosted annually to “encourage and teach men to be godly leaders for their families” and more. Roethlisberger has been married since 2011 and has three children.

During the conference, Roethlisberger discussed that he was rebaptized three years ago and further shared his Christian journey.

“Now more than ever, it’s cool to be a Christian, especially professional athletes,” Roethlisberger said. “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. 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.”

He was open about how his faith wasn’t always the forefront of his life, and he selfishly put his career first in the earlier days.

“Last year, we went through a crazy offseason,” Roethlisberger said. “All I thought about was getting back on the football field, and I was like, ‘God, you’re going to give me all this redemption. I’m going to go out there, I’m going to prove everybody wrong, I’m going to win a Super Bowl, and we’re going to give you all the glory, and this is it. This is my comeback year.’ And the second game, I tear my elbow. That was God being like, ‘Hold on, it’s not your plan of coming back. It’s got to be my plan.’ So I had to pump the brakes.”

During his latest season, Roethlisberger had a season-ending elbow injury. He sees it as a blessing as it brought him closer to the Lord.

“I’m so thankful that this injury happened during my walk that I’m in now,” the 38-year-old signal-caller 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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