The recent controversy surrounding Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is unfortunate. Whether the accusations are true or not, the reputation of an otherwise, outstanding individual and gifted athlete has been tarnished forever.
That gifted athlete is who I want to write about.
I met Ben Roethlisberger personally when I was an assistant boy’s high school basketball coach in Toledo, Ohio in the late 1990’s. Our team had the occasion to play Ben Roethlisberger’s Findlay (Ohio) High School basketball team when he was a senior.
I had seen news footage of Roethlisberger on the football field and was impressed with his talent. He was amazing to watch even on television. He played with the poise of someone well beyond his years and his athletic ability came right through the screen.
I had heard that he played other sports and as we prepared to play his team I was hoping he was not as good in basketball as he was in football.
My hopes were soon dashed.
Roethlisberger proceeded to put on a show worthy of a higher ticket price. He went over, around and through every defense that we tried against him. We had not scouted his team but we had information that told us how dangerous he could be and it was accurate.
At 6’5″ tall and maybe a shade over 200 pounds, Ben could play all five positions on the court which made it hard to defend him. By the time you figured out how to slow him down, he switched positions.
He was an athletic specimen. Agile, mobile, fast and deceptively quick, Ben Roethlisberger was a handful for anyone attempting to hold him. I could now understand how he dominated on the football field. Putting someone of his ability on a half an acre of green grass and turning him loose had to be a nightmare for other teams playing against him.
I know we were in a nightmare that seemed like it would never end.
During his senior year, Roethlisberger averaged 26 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He could have easily gone to school on a basketball scholarship. He had several offers but chose to play football instead.
Ben Roethlisberger’s talent on the football field is well documented. His story is the stuff that legends are made of.
Attending Miami (Ohio) University, Roethlisberger continued his winning and dominating ways setting school records for passing yards and completions. Red-shirted his freshman year, Ben accomplished his feats in only three years of action opting to forego his senior year and go to the NFL.
Entering his junior year Roethlisberger was the school leader in pass completions and was second in passing yards. A three year starter, Ben Roethlisberger once again looked like a man playing against boys.
An athletic quarterback with a strong arm, Roethlisberger was an effective passer who could throw accurately downfield from the pocket or on the run. This along with his scrambling ability made him a triple threat every time he had the ball in his hands, which was every play.
By the time Roethlisberger was a junior in college he was already high on many NFL scouting reports. A successful, record-setting junior year helped to solidify his place in the 2004 NFL draft.
After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft (11th overall), Roethlisberger had arrived at the pinnacle of his chosen sport, football.
When the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger they had not intended to play him right away but instead allow him to be groomed for the starting position by playing behind veterans Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch.
Batch got hurt in the preseason and as fate would have it, Maddox got hurt in the second game of the regular season after making a less-than-spectacular start against the Baltimore Ravens.
Roethlisberger led a strong comeback in the game that fell short but started the rest of the season going 13-0 during the stretch and the rest, as they say, is history.
Not mentioned before, Roethlisberger was also an accomplished baseball player in high school. Playing shortstop, he batted .300 his senior season earning second team all-league and all-district honors.
He earned the same recognition as a high school basketball player.
The full athletic talent of Ben Roethlisberger is not widely known which is why I am sharing it with you now.
Knowing the full range of this man’s abilities makes his football accomplishments even more prolific.
Ben Roethlisberger is a very gifted and talented athlete. There appears to be no limit to what this man could accomplish which makes the current situation that he finds himself in more tragic.
No one knows what happened between Roethlisberger and the woman accusing him of assault but one thing is for certain, Ben Roethlisberger is a coach’s dream and one athletically gifted son-of-a-gun.