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Roethlisberger, Rodgers tackle Super Bowl media day
Question of the Day
ARLINGTON, Texas | Ben Roethlisberger dodged the tough character questions the way he avoids pass rushers. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have to. He didn’t get any.
Roethlisberger has a troubled past; Rodgers had a tough act to follow.
The two met the masses at Super Bowl media day on Tuesday for what turned out to be a study in contrasts.
Roethlisberger, who has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to their third Super Bowl in six years, deflected talk about his four-game suspension to begin this season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Instead, he used a smile and what sounded like a well-rehearsed reply when pressed about the punishment, stressing his desire to be a model citizen.
“I want to be the guy people look up to,” he said, smiling through a beard he said will be gone by Monday, win or lose. “I want to be that kind of husband, father and grandfather some day if I am lucky enough.”
“I just wanted to be honest through the entire time,” he said of the will Favre-won’t Favre return saga that was settled when the Packers dealt their longtime QB to the Jets. “It was a difficult situation. It was tough to stand up every day in front of media not knowing what questions were coming at me and how the fans were going to react that day in practice. But the whole time the organization stood by me and they told the truth, and I told the truth, and we moved on together.”
Speaking of moving, no one was getting anywhere fast Tuesday morning after a snow and ice storm — weather suited for Pittsburgh and Green Bay — crippled the Dallas area.
And no one bothered turning up the heat inside cavernous Cowboys Stadium, site of Sunday’s title game. The chill left many players shivering. Even Roethlisberger, who handled questions better than he did the cold, asked for someone to crank up the burners — to no avail.
“You’ve got to fight through a lot of difficult things in life, and this is no different,” he said, referring to the penalty he received from Commissioner Roger Goodell after accusations of sexual assault were made by a 20-year-old college student in March. The quarterback was never prosecuted over what was the second such set of allegations against him. “You’ve got to keep plugging along.”
He took about a dozen questions on the subject, and pretty much stayed with the same answer:
“That’s a reflective question. This is not the time for reflection.”
Rodgers, on the other hand, had no problem looking back. The six-year pro compared his sitting for three years behind Favre to what Steve Young experienced in San Francisco behind Joe Montana.
“I reached out to Steve when I became a starter, among some other guys, too,” Rodgers said, noting that he has not spoken with Favre about being a Super Bowl QB. “I wanted to talk to a lot of guys who’d been there and had success in the NFL. Steve obviously had a very similar (situation), being a guy who followed a legend. He’s been great. Steve has been a great guy to lean on and he’s made time for me and is somebody who I really appreciate.”
Young’s not a bad role model. He won a Super Bowl and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Roethlisberger, however, admitted he wanted no part of “filling the shoes” of Terry Bradshaw, the quarterback of the four-time champion Steel Curtain team of the 1970s and also a Hall of Famer. Bradshaw criticized Roethlisberger’s conduct last year, as well as the Steelers‘ reaction to it, noting the team traded Santonio Holmes after his off-field problems, but kept the quarterback.
But the two have since smoothed over their relationship.
“Ben is making a great attempt to change not only his perception with media and the fan base, but the image thing that has taken a beating,” Bradshaw said. “And he says he’s changing, that he’s back to the way he was raised. He said he got carried away with winning so young. I’ve given him glowing praise all year and rightfully so.”
More significant than making amends with Bradshaw was smoothing over any rough spots with his teammates and coaching staff.
“There’s a big group I always had the support of … and a couple maybe I was not as close to as I wanted to be and needed to be,” Roethlisberger said. “And I really worked hard to be closer with and be a better teammate with (them).”
If some teammates were skeptical that he could make such a change, they are silent now. His supporters have increased all through the roster — just as they have in Pittsburgh now that he has the Steelers in their eighth Super Bowl; they’ve won a record six.
“Ben is a highly respected member of our football team, not only because of what he’s done this year, but, just as large, his body of work and the person that he is,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We all fall short of perfection. We all make mistakes. His are well documented. He’s doing the best that he can in terms of moving forward with it, as are his teammates.”
By David Keene
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