“Campfire talks shape Ben Roethlisberger’s friendship with Bills great Jim Kelly”

December 10th, 2016 by

From ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler this week:

011815_benjimkellyThe hunting and snowmobiling is great fun, but Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t visit Ellicottville, New York, for an annual offseason “buddies” trip simply for sport.

He goes for the campfires. He goes for Jim Kelly. And he goes for the quarterback stories you can’t get in a scouting report.

“When you’re up and around each other for four or five days, and you’re sitting around a fire, you talk about everything,” Roethlisberger said.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers make their first appearance in Buffalo since 2010, Roethlisberger has been texting with Kelly this week about how to catch up in person before Sunday’s game. They settled on dinner Saturday night.

The relationship stretches far beyond pleasantries — like, 8,000 miles farther. Kelly, the Buffalo Bills great who has valiantly battled oral cancer since 2014, said in a phone interview Thursday between hunting trips that he’s taking Roethlisberger and a few others to New Zealand this offseason for a red-stag archery tournament.

Roethlisberger and Kelly have experience hunting turkeys together. But more importantly for Kelly, hunting is simply an extension of fellowship with Roethlisberger, who met one of his childhood idols at a golf tournament many years ago.

Kelly, 56, is proud to see the growth in Roethlisberger, 34, who once upon a time showed up to an event in Buffalo with security guards. Roethlisberger, who long ago admitted to being humbled by his early career travails, has “no ego, down to earth, cool with everybody,” Kelly said.

“Without a doubt, playing for a franchise like the Steelers, there’s a certain graduation, and when you’re young and going from nothing to a millionaire, that changes you,” Kelly said of Roethlisberger. “But he’s handling himself pretty darned good. He’s far from that. That was a phase.”

The two hit it off instantly, prompting Roethlisberger and several other mutual friends to make the trip to Ellicottville every offseason for the last seven years or so. They slice through the snow outdoors and play pool indoors, with Kelly providing laughter at a no-huddle pace.

Through many conversations, Roethlisberger became touched by Kelly’s story, from his cancer battle to the loss of his 8-year-old son, Hunter, to Krabbe disease in 2005.

An offseason story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called ‘Ben’s Quiet Quest’ reported that Roethlisberger gave his third son, Bodie, the middle name Hunter.

To hear Roethlisberger tell it now, he and his wife, Ashley, wanted to honor Kelly’s family and also liked the name. Roethlisberger called Kelly for his blessing, and he was “honored” by the gesture, Roethlisberger said. Kelly used the word “touched.”

march252014Shared experiences blazed by years of campfire talk gave Roethlisberger someone to trust, a sounding board for his thoughts on life, football, toughness, whatever.

“We talk a lot,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s not like any specific things, but I’ll get texts after games like, ‘Great job, keep it up,’ things like that. Those mean a lot coming from a guy like that.”

Roethlisberger said playing in Buffalo has a “nostalgia” to it because he grew up watching Buffalo’s K-Gun offense. But he’s especially excited to see a healthy and happy Kelly in person.

Kelly was deemed cancer-free in late 2014 but eventually underwent a second round of chemo. Kelly’s fight is not completely over, so Roethlisberger will be reminded of the ‘Kelly tough’ mantra that went viral a few years ago.

“It was scary, obviously, for a long time. It still is,” Roethlisberger said. “He still deals with those things. I know he’s in a good place with the Lord and his family, which means a lot. You don’t want to lose a guy like that. We’re glad he’s still here and going strong. I’m blessed to have him as a friend.”

Kelly’s goal was not to play “papa bear” in Roethlisberger’s life, usually opting for friendly jabbing over packaged wisdom. But Roethlisberger said Kelly’s example is a light in his life, and Kelly hopes his light shines in the direction of others.

“When you go through tough times, so many have it far worse, so how can I make a difference in someone’s life?” Kelly said, about what he’s learned through his challenges. “When you go out, you’re not only representing yourself but your whole family. [Roethlisberger] gets that.”


You can read more from Mr. Fowler here.


Lil’ Fan Friday

December 9th, 2016 by

Pete Jr. is a Connecticut native and unfortunately, surrounded by New England Patriots fans!


jenfusco
But this little guy has no trouble showing HIS true colors and his favorite number: Black & Gold and #7!

In fact, when we asked him his thoughts on Tom Brady and the Patriots, he thought about it for a moment…then decided that the continued silence of a pacifier was the best decision — especially since #7 has one of #12’s jerseys!



Thank you to mom Jen Fusco!



Two December Grants from Ben’s foundation

December 8th, 2016 by

In the spirit of the holiday season, Ben is awarding two grants this week!

Today, he announced the tenth and eleventh grants of the 2016 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.

120816The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and East Aurora-Town of Aurora Police Department in the Buffalo, New York area where the Steelers play the Bills on Sunday, December 11th.

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office will use their grant to purchase a K-9 dog. The East Aurora-Town of Aurora Police Department will use their grant to purchase a K-9 ballistic vest and cargo box for the K-9 patrol vehicle.

Deputy, Bryan S. Burmaster stated, “Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is extremely grateful for the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and we are very excited to have been selected as one of this year’s grant recipients. We are very proud of our K-9 unit’s success and funding from the Foundation will allow us to continue to provide the citizens of our county with the best K-9 assets around. We would like to thank Lakeshore Humane Society for being our sponsor in this endeavor. On behalf of all law enforcement K-9 units, we are grateful for organizations such as the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation that believe in our mission and are willing to support its success.”

Chief of Police, Shane Krieger stated, “The East Aurora-Town of Aurora Police Department thanks Ben Roethlisberger and his foundation for supporting our K-9 program. Being a small department, it is challenging to equip our officers and K-9 with the tools they need to serve and protect our community, but the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has made that job much easier. Thank you!”


Hey Steelers fans:

You can support future K-9 grants by joining Ben’s crowdfunding campaign on https://pledgeit.org/big-ben. Big Ben is pledging $1,000 per touchdown this season to his foundation. Supporters can increase the impact by pledging to donate any amount per touchdown.


For more information about The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation or The Giving Back Fund, please contact Charisse Browner at www.givingback.org.


Wednesday: Ben’s “chat” with the media

December 7th, 2016 by

From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:

120716_1Ladarius Green was signed by the Steelers this offseason to be a weapon for Ben Roethlisberger in the offense, and with four games under his belt after coming off an ankle injury, he is doing just that.

Green pulled in six receptions for 110 yards against the Giants last week, the first 100-yard game of his career, and also scored his first touchdown in the black and gold, a 20-yard grab on a play that he hadn’t even run before.

“That is a play, I don’t think he ran that specific play yet,” said Roethlisberger. “For me to call it and him to execute it flawlessly speaks volumes for the work he has put in mentally. To not get that rep physically, but mentally be ready to do it, able to do it, be the actor, the fake block and then make the play. That is just awesome on his part.”

Roethlisberger and Green are developing a rapport on the field, one that both admit needs to continue to grow. While they hooked up for six receptions on Sunday, both know there were plays left on the field, including an incompletion late in the game that could have moved the chains and kept the clock going with 1:43 to play in the game. Instead Randy Bullock came on for a 38-yard field goal, and the Giants got the ball back, driving down for a touchdown.

“It’s just making the plays that are there,” said Roethlisberger. “I could have hit him on that last play on the third down, I overthrew him trying to be a little too cautious. I just have to put it up there for him to make the play. That is on me. Some of the combative catches, I know he wants to make the catches where there is a guy right on him. He made the one on third down where there were two guys on him. That was awesome. There just needs to be more consistency on my part and his part working together. That just comes from repetition and working together. I have all of the confidence in the world in him.”

Part of that confidence comes from the mental approach Green took while he was injured, not just sitting back and observing like an outsider, but being involved in every aspect mentally.

“Not getting to see a guy, just talking to him, you see the mental side of it,” said Roethlisberger. “He is very smart. He talks a lot to me and asks questions. They are not questions you expect from a guy that hasn’t been around here. They are questions you expect from a guy that has been here, studying, focusing and really understanding what is going on here. I just see growth every day from him.

“I have all of the faith in the world in him and what he can do. He is a weapon for us.”

Roethlisberger feels the same about the team’s other tight ends, David Johnson, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble, who are giving opposing defenses matchup problems when they go to two or three tight end sets.

“Those formations and sets throw a wrinkle to a defense,” said Roethlisberger. “Do you line up in big personnel to stop the run because you have tight ends or do you put nickel or smaller defensive backs on the field? Having the versatility of our tight ends to be able to execute against whatever defense is thrown at us is key for us.”


More from Ben:

120716On the run-pass split:

“t just means we’re balanced and that’s always what we’ve wanted to be, a balanced offense. When the run is there, we take it. When the pass is there, we do that as well.”


On if Le’Veon Bell is getting stronger later in games:

“What you could see is his energy. You can see the enthusiasm, the line. I mean, even after a long drive like that, you can just see them, “let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go.” In that game you see him, after runs it a bunch of time, I was mic’d up that game and its funny audio because I ask him, ‘You good? You ready to keep going? You need a timeout?’ But he doesn’t. He just keeps going. That’s why I think he’s one of the best in the business. But being able to talk to him and communicate with him like that, and him being honest back with me, is a great thing.”


On if he thinks Bell is being honest:

“Absolutely. He’s the best in the business. He’s going to tell me. What he wants and feels. And he’s honest with all of us. We need him on the field, but he also knows that he’s not going to hurt the team.”


On if the offense’s balance has any other factors but run and pass:

“I think balance is what the defense is giving you. What’s working for you? When we’re having success, it’s because Coach (Todd) Haley is calling good plays, we’re executing them, the line’s blocking, we’re running, we’re throwing—that’s a balanced offense, in my opinion.”


On Buffalo’s defense:

“Complexity. Moving guys around. Nasty tough. Throwing different secondary coverages at you. Blitzes, bringing guys from safeties to linebackers. And then, having a good defensive line, which they obviously have.”


On his success in bad weather:

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Being from not far from here, a couple of hours, you’re used to bad weather playing in the backyard. We played in snow, rain and mud, whatever it was. I don’t if that’s it, or just getting lucky.”


On if he takes pride in that:

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It was funny, before the pregame in Indianapolis, we were talking, Coach Randy (Fichtner) and I were talking about, ‘This is nice, no wind., no nothing.’ But I wouldn’t change being here and having he elements. It’s fun to play in the snow. I’m assuming there will be some snow up there, and wind. It typically is. It is what it is. Other than being cold, it’s pretty fun.”


On his last game there and the wind:

“It’s cold. It’s what you love watching. I grew up when Jim Kelly was one of the guys and watching some of those playoff games they had up there, just how cold and brutal it was. That’s just what you expect in Buffalo.”


The Ben Roethlisberger Show

December 6th, 2016 by

From Ben’s radio show this morning on 93.7 The Fan:

piratesgame_061214_ben_cutch2Coming off the Steelers 24-14 victory over the New York Giants this past week, you’d think Ben Roethlisberger would want to open The #1 Cochran Ben Roethlisberger Show talking about the offense hitting on all cylinders, but instead he had a message for the Pirates…keep McCutchen.

“I should start this off by saying, lets keep Cutch in Pittsburgh. He should be a Pirate for life, that’s just my opinion.” Ben also shared with us that he has spoken with McCutchen this week about the trade rumors swirling around him.

Turning his focus to the game he played this past week, Ben had a glowing review of tight end Ladarius Green who had a big performance catching 6 passes for 110-yards and a touchdown.

“We haven’t had a lot of game time together, and even practice time,” Ben said. “You would have thought that we’ve been playing for years,” Ben said about the way he and Green have been able to improvise together.

Another one of Ben’s weapons in the offense had a big game in Antonio “Ronald” Brown, as he told reporters he wants to be known as from now on. Ben joked with the guys about Brown saying he wants to be known as Ronald and what a unique character the team’s top receiver is.

“I have no idea, I don’t know where it came from, he was calling himself Ronald Ocean and was calling me Billy for whatever reason, I have on idea.”

Looking at the big picture this year, Ben talked about the close race in the AFC North and how they need to take care business now if they want to be serious Super Bowl contenders.

“We need to shoot for 4-0, we are in the thick of this AFC North division race, we gotta win the division. At this time of year, the Super Bowl champ has probably lost their last game, so you have to take that approach that we need to go win every game we play anymore.”

All season long, it looked like the Patriots would be the team standing in the way of any team looking to win an AFC Championship, but injuries to keep players like Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola have brought them back to the pack. Ben was asked if he pays attention to things like that.

“You can’t be blind to it, you gotta know what’s going on, but honestly, we need to take care of our business.”


You can listen to Ben’s full show here.


Week 13: Steelers 24, Giants 14

December 4th, 2016 by

From Jeremy Fowler, ESPN.com:

Ben Roethlisberger won’t let Steelers fall out of playoff picture

120416_1Nearly four weeks ago, Ben Roethlisberger stood near his locker and delivered two simple words about his leadership plans for the season’s second half: Follow me.

Since then, Roethlisberger has 1,085 yards passing, eight touchdown passes, one interception and three wins, none bigger than Sunday’s over the New York Giants, 24-14.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers faced trouble midway through the third quarter, Roethlisberger delivered the kind of drive that only a handful of humans could orchestrate.

He strong-armed a 33-yard completion through a pocket full of Giants.

He launched a well-timed ball to the sideline to a toe-tapping Antonio Brown.

“Total trust. I trust him, and he trusts and believes in me.” — Ben, on that touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.


He lofted a pass over the head of safety Landon Collins for a 20-yard score to Ladarius Green, who’s clearly become the Steelers’ second receiving option behind Brown.

On a day the Steelers had to have it, Big Ben was at his biggest, answering a Giants touchdown drive and keeping the lead at 14 before letting Le’Veon Bell handle most of the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger was 4-of-4 for 71 yards on that drive.

It was brilliant performance and the difference in the game.

And don’t think he’s not still motivated by playing Eli Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft and 10 picks above Roethlisberger — who looked like the better quarterback 12 years later.

The defense was just as bullish, baiting Manning into two interceptions and holding Odell Beckham Jr. to 105 yards, a handful of those in garbage time.

120416_2Whatever Roethlisberger is doing on offense, James Harrison is matching it on defense; two thirtysomethings putting up numbers at the right time. Harrison has five sacks in his past five games and has applied pressure many other times.

On the game-sealing sack of Manning on fourth down midway through the fourth, at least four Steelers were involved in the takedown. Ricardo Mathews got the credit, but many Steelers were around the ball all game. That includes Sean Davis with his first career interception, Mike Mitchell with two third-down pass breakups and Lawrence Timmons’ field-flipping interception from underneath coverage.

“It’s that time of year when we have to be our best selves. Everyone has to do their job.” — Ben.


A team that underachieved for the better part of two months is peaking at the perfect time. That Week 10 loss to Dallas could have crushed the Steelers. Instead, it galvanized them.

With the Baltimore Ravens pounding the Miami Dolphins earlier Sunday, the Steelers couldn’t afford to fall to 6-6 with four weeks left. The AFC North division is the only clear path to the playoffs, and that Steelers-Ravens matchup on Christmas Day sets up nicely for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers’ quarterback likes his chances.


More from Mr. Fowler here.

You can watch Ben’s post-game interview here.

You can check out the video with game highlights here.

2nd photo credit: Matt Freed.


*Ben completed 67 percent of his passes for 298 yards, and he helped the Steelers convert 50 percent on possession downs – 7-of-15 on third downs, and 1-for-1 on fourth down.

“Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown have tied Terry Bradshaw-Lynn Swann (49) for the most QB-WR touchdown connections in #Steelers history.” — Dom Rinelli, Steelers (via Twitter).



And one more look…

this time, by the designer/artist after the game:

davezambrano
David E. Zambrano ‏@dezcustomz
For @_BigBen7 worn today for #mycausemycleats NFL week 13.


#ColbyStrong

December 4th, 2016 by

and stronger and stronger!


120416
Nobody will win BIGGER this weekend than this young man!!!

Congratulations Colby Bubb, and God bless you!!



Lil’ Fan Friday

December 2nd, 2016 by

11 month old Sal Morris is from Swedesboro, New Jersey, but he’s no Giants fan! He was born a Steelers fan and loves listening to “Renegade” with his entire family on Game Day! Plus, he totally ROCKS that #83!!


garymorris_sal
Coach Tomlin!! I’m right here….put me in Coach! I’m ready to catch a pass from Big Ben and take it to the house!



(Thanks to proud papa, Gary Morris for the photo!)



#MyCauseMyCleats

December 1st, 2016 by

Wanted to share a photo of my cleats for this weekend’s #MyCauseMyCleats initiative to celebrate and bring awareness to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.


foundationcleats_frame_540
These cleats, just like my foundation, honor Make A Wish and police & fire agencies nationwide.

I also wanted to honor fallen K-9 Rocco of the Pittsburgh Police Department with his badge, name, and call sign/unit number on the side of the shoe.

Thank you to Dave at dezcustomz.com & Moe at Kreative Custom Kicks (Sneakercustoms.com) for designing them for me! — Ben



Thank you Ben!

December 1st, 2016 by

K9 “Steel” is the newest member of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, thanks to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation!

steel
“Steel” joins three other police K9s in this Virginia department. He is a Czech Shepherd born on June 5, 2015 in the Czech Republic. He now lives with his handler, Deputy B. Demerci and his family.

This is Deputy Demerci’s first time working a police dog. Steel and Deputy Demerci received their Police K-9 Handler Team Certification after graduating from the Virginia Police K9 Association/Professional Canine Services, Inc. just a couple of weeks ago, on November 18th. Steel is certified in Police Patrol/Utility and K9 Explosives Detection.

Then this happened…

Within a week of graduating from K9 School, Deputy Demerci and K9 Steel were dispatched to a robbery call while out on patrol. After a perimeter was established, this 4-legged rookie was able to track the suspect behind a fence into an enclosed back yard. The suspect was taken in to custody without further incident or injury to anyone. But Steel wasn’t done! He was then able to track the suspected weapon used in the attempted robbery under a blanket in a nearby baby stroller.

Thank you, Ben, for giving this grant to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office. The expansion of the K9 unit will certainly assist in the protection of the citizens and the community in which Steel will serve. Organizations such as The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation are priceless. There are no words to express the appreciation felt for the Ben and his foundation for giving us the opportunity to grow within the unit and department. The citizens of Stafford County, as well as the Sheriff’s Office, will certainly benefit from this generous contribution. — The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit (with a special shout out to Lt. Julie Smith of the Fairfax County, VA Sheriff’s Office).



Ben made the choice of a team to root for a lot easier for the Bistany Family.

ltjessebistany_middlesexcountysheriffDear Ben,

My name is Jesse Bistany and I am a Sheriff Lieutenant in the state of New Jersey.

I wanted to take this time to personally tell you that I appreciate everything you do for law enforcement!!! As a 42-year old male who loves football, baseball has always been my favorite sport (Yankees) and I just never had a football team that I strictly rooted for. When I learned of what you have been doing for law enforcement with all your donations to K-9’s and various police equipment, I was taken back a bit – in a good way.

It’s very rare to see very successful sports figures who want to give back like you do. You are a stand-up guy, and I hope this gets out there for the world to see, not for my exposure but for yours! You can even take my name out of this.

My daughter just said to me the other day, “Daddy we need to pick a team to root for.” I told her we will be Steelers fans now, and support a team and a quarterback who supports us!!!

Once again thank you for your support and I say this on behalf of all of Law Enforcement agencies out there. It’s time that you were recognized for the good things you do. Thank you. A Steelers fan for life !!!! — Lt. Jesse Bistany.


Thank you to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, and to Lt. Bistany for taking the time to share your thoughts on Ben’s foundation! God bless and protect you all as you continue to protect us!


MAGAZINE/BOOK ALERT!

WHAT: Nothing at this time
WHEN:
WHERE:

EVENTS/APPEARANCES!

WHAT: The SunnyD Ben Roethlisberger Football Camp
WHEN: 2017
WHERE: Bethel Park High School, 309 Church Rd., Bethel Park, PA.
REGISTRATION: Sign up here (Use code BigBen7 for $20 off fee).

EVENTS/APPEARANCES!

WHAT: Keynote Speaker – Ignite Men’s Impact Weekend
WHEN: March 17-18, 2017
WHERE: Liberty University
TICKETS: IgniteMen.net (purchase by Oct 31, 2016)

EVENTS/APPEARANCES!

WHAT:
WHEN:
WHERE:
TICKETS:

 


2016 STEELERS SCHEDULE

 

9/12 @ Redskins Win: 38-16
9/18 Bengals Win: 24-16
9/25 @ Eagles Loss: 34-3
10/2 Chiefs Win: 43-14
10/9 Jets Win: 31-13
10/16 @ Dolphins Loss: 30-15
10/23 Patriots Loss: 27-16
10/30 BYE Week N/A
11/6 @ Ravens Loss: 21-14
11/13 Cowboys Loss: 35-30
11/20 @ Browns Win: 24-9
11/24 @ Colts Win: 28-7
12/4 Giants Win: 24-14
12/11 @ Bills 1PM – CBS/KDKA
12/18 @ Bengals 1PM – NBC
12/25 Ravens 4:30PM – NFLN
1/1 Browns 1PM – CBS/KDKA