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Ben Roethlisberger admits to past porn addiction, says he's recommitted life to Christ

Ben Roethlisberger admits to past porn addiction, says he's recommitted life to Christ

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger speaks during ManUp Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 20, 2020. | Screenshot: Crowdcast.io/Urban Impact

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admitted over the Father’s Day weekend that he has struggled in the past with alcohol and pornography addictions and explained that he got baptized for a second time to show his commitment to Christ, his wife and children.  

“I’ve fallen as short as anybody,” Roethlisberger, a father of three, said. “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.”

The 38-year-old Ohio native was a speaker Saturday at a virtual conference called ManUp Pittsburgh, an annual gathering for 1,500 men in the tri-state area hosted by the Christian organization Urban Impact in conjunction with Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. 

The conference seeks to encourage and teach men to be “godly leaders for their families” and raise awareness of the “devastating impact of fatherlessness among youth today.” Because of the coronavirus crisis, the free conference was held online this year.

The veteran quarterback advised the men struggling with their addictions that they have to “dedicate” themselves. 

“You have to understand that you can get out of it because of the grace of God and Him saying, ‘Listen, you are good enough for me the way you are,’” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger explained that he grew up in the church, went to services every Sunday and had great parents who are “great Christian people.” He said he gave his life to Christ in middle school. 

However, like so many people, he struggled in his faith after he went off to play football at the University of Miami in Ohio, a struggle that continued through his early years in the NFL. 

Roethlisberger was the starting quarterback for the school’s football team from 2001 to 2003 and was drafted by the Steelers in the 2004 NFL Draft. 

He said that he was not equipped to handle the fortune and fame that comes with being a first-round selection or a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback. 

He was twice accused of sexual assault about a decade ago. A hotel employee accused the young quarterback in 2009 of raping her. However, he and the hotel chain denied the allegations and a friend later claimed that the woman bragged about sleeping with Roethlisberger. 

In 2010, a college student accused Roethlisberger of raping her but the district attorney did not have enough evidence to prosecute following a request from the victim who feared that such a prosecution would be an intrusive experience. Roethlisberger received a four-game suspension and went on to win Super Bowl XLV that season. 

Porn star Stormy Daniels also claims to have had an encounter with him that left her “terrified” after being introduced by Donald Trump in 2006. 

Roethlisberger admitted in his remarks at the conference that he wasn’t “as strong a Christian” when he left for college.

“It wasn’t like I stopped believing, but you’re not sharpening your skills, you are not reading the Bible,” he said. “I’m still praying here and there, but I wasn’t as strong of a Christian in college as I wish I would have been, like my wife was. I am jealous of her that she was so devout in college.”

He said he “never got back to where I wanted to be or how I was raised.”

“Then when you get to the NFL, the same thing happens. You go to a new city and now there is this new fame and all these things are coming at you,” he said. 

In 2011, Roethlisberger married his wife, Ashley Harlan, an experience that he said has brought God back into the center of his life. 

Three years ago, he got baptized for a second time, which reinvigorated his faith. 

“I got baptized as a baby but I didn’t make that decision,” he said. “I just felt that I needed to do that. I wanted to have a closer walk, a better relationship with Jesus, with my wife, with my kids, my family, become a better person.”

“Jesus is the one that brought me back to Him. I am so thankful for it because I feel I am a better Christian, and a better husband and a better father today because of His forgiveness of me.” 

He stressed that he is trying to be a “better Christian” than “an athlete at football.” 

“I push myself every day to do that and it starts here [in the Bible]’. It’s not always easy. People don’t realize all the time that us athletes, we’re human. We sin like everyone else. We make mistakes. We get addicted to things. We sin.”

Other speakers at the ManUp Pittsburgh event included Tomlin, former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Pastor Ed Glover, founder of Urban Impact. 

Roethlisberger also shared with the audience two Bible verses that have been on his heart. 

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him,” he said while reciting James 1:12. “Don’t we all go through trials and tribulations? How do we persevere? How do we come out the backside? And who do we look to during our trials?

“Another quick [verse] that I think we all should listen to is James 1:19: ‘My dear brothers, take note of this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.’ Especially men, right?” 

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