I talked to Ben Roethlisberger on Friday for about 10 minutes deep inside the bowels of St. Benedict Hall on the campus of St. Vincent College.
I posted a couple stories, but I figured to throw out the entire Q&A so you can read the entire conversation.
KABOLY: I know you had injuries to the your foot, knee and shoulder last year. How are you feeling this year?
ROETHLISBERGER: “It’s amazing when people ask how I feel. To miss the game that I missed last year, which was more than I missed in a long time, but I feel great. It doesn’t make much sense that I would feel as good as I do with the injuries. Everything healed up pretty well. We took the right amount of time. The doctors, the trainers really helped. I feel really, really good.”
KABOLY: You’ve mentioned that your shoulder will eventually need some work done?
ROETHLISBERGER: “I think every thrower potentially – that is what Dr. (James) Bradley tells me. My dad was a college quarterback and his shoulder … anybody that throws … I think we did a number count and I throw about 500-700 footballs a day. That’s a lot of throws. Anybody who does that repeatedly with their arm is going to need something. The way it feels now, it feels great. I hope I never need shoulder surgery, but if I do I hope it will be way down the road.”
KABOLY: It seems like your team as a whole took that playoff loss to the Broncos extremely hard last year. Why was that one more painful than any other playoff loss?
ROETHLISBERGER: “They are all pretty painful. Maybe because what we overcame. We overcame so much with all the injuries and all the key players being out whether it was that season or that game. We felt that we were a team that was hot at the right time. We felt that we were a good football team at the right time. We won that Cincinnati, as crazy as that game was. You just kind of felt like that it was our year. When you lose a close a game like that, you feel like you could have had it or should’ve had it without AB, without (DeAngelo Williams) and all those guys who didn’t play. To lose it, it stings.
KABOLY: You obviously don’t have a decade left in your career and that window to winning a title my be as open this year as much as it ever had. How much does it upset you that there are avoidable distractions swirling around the team?
ROETHLISBERGER: “Are you talking about Le’Veon?
KABOLY: And Martavis.
ROETHLISBERGER: “The Martavis thing, we all kind of moved past that because we had to. It was a while ago. There is not much to do about that. The Le’Veon thing, there are so many questions still. You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what’s going on. We want him out there. We are hoping and praying to be out there because of who he is and what he is to this offense. I guess we will cross that bridge officially when we find out what’s going to happen. I don’t think anybody is diving in to it one way or another right because of the questions.
KABOLY: Do you feel the need to address the team about either Bell or Bryant?
ROETHLISBERGER “I always address the team and that’s kind of been part of my speech or whatever you want to call it. Guys, we need to be a selfless team, a selfless offense. And an offense that supports each other and that comes with being late to meeting, late to a walk-through. It is hurting more than just you, it is hurting us all. Let’s put everything behind us and dive into what is important no which is being the best offensive team we can be.”
KABOLY: Do you relish this opportunity of being a leader when you have distractions?
ROETHLISBERGER: “It is more opportunity for me to do it. Pull guys aside like a big brother and talk. More importantly, it is a great opportunity for the next guys – the Pounceys, the Ramon Fosters – kind of let them handle some of it too. To let them evolve as leaders of this team is fun for me too.”
KABOLY: Do you ever sit and plan something you want to say to a player or how you might want to go about it?
ROETHLISBERGER: “I kind of let it happen. I don’t put together a speech in my mind when I talk to the team. I kind of just let whatever comes out, comes out.”
KABOLY: Do you think there is an issue with marijuana on this team or around the league?
ROETHLISBERGER: “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I can only speak for myself and I know I don’t do it. I don’t even know what’s going on in society itself. Isn’t legal in some places and not others? It’ a societal thing. I don’t think there is an issue. I know for me I am not worried about failing a drug test.”
KABOLY: Do you familiarize yourself with the drug test procedures?
ROETHLISBERGER: “No, whether it is the street drugs or the PEDs, I know that I don’t put anything in my body to even risk it. They call me or text me or show up with the thing in your locker and say I have to go pee, the only thing I worry about is when was the last time I went because I have go again.”
KABOLY: What happens if somebody else gets busted down the road?
ROETHLISBERGER “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. It is always disappointing if that happens down the road and gets busted. But let’s hope it doesn’t happen and we don’t have to talk about it.”
KABOLY: If Bell is out along with Bryant, how much does this hinder your offense?
ROETHLISBERGER: “There are going to have to be guys who step up for Martavis (Bryant). That’s a no-brainer. He brought to the table was unbelievable with his speed, size and that opened up AB. We need Sammie Coates to step up, (Darrius Heyward-Bey) to step up, and Markus Wheaton to step up and carry that load. That’s a lot of touchdowns gone, yards and big plays. We will make it it happen. We have guys who are able to step up. Let’s not jump to any conclusions with Le’Veon yet.”
KABOLY: Did it hurt you personally with Martavis because you seemed to have taken him under you wing.
ROETHLISBERGER: “That’s what kind of hurt and what stung the most. Talking to him all the time and trying to be a big brother to him and show him a lot of love and challenge when need be. He rose to the challenge last year. It hurt and was disappointing.”
KABOLY: You always say that if you think about the end of your career that you give disservice to your current job. Do you ever allow yourself to think about the end?
ROETHLISBERGER: “I feel really good, though. If I felt that my arm wasn’t as strong or I couldn’t avoid pressure that it would bring me down and I would start to say that I don’t have much left. But I don’t feel that way right now. I feel that my arm is very strong and I feel healthy. So, I really don’t see an end. I don’t see that right now.”
KABOLY: Do you think you will realize when the end is here?
ROETHLISBERGER: “I really do. I don’t see me a guy who hangs around longer. I don’t ever want to be a backup. I am not going to stay for that. I think I will know when it is time.”
KABOLY: Does the Patriots losing Brady for four games mean anything to you?
ROETHLISBERGER: “We want to get to the AFC championship game and want it to be here anyway. That’s our goal. Our goal is the Super Bowl and we want it to go through Heinz Field. Whether Brady is playing or not, that’s our goal. We cannot concern ourselves around other teams and players around the league. We have to worry about Pittsburgh Steelers.”
KABOLY: What do you think about the Steelers rivalry with the Bengals.?
ROETHLISBERGER: “I want to be a good, clean rivalry. I don’t want it to be a rivalry where people are tuning in to see a fight, to see penalties. Once I first got here we had the Steelers/Ravens rivalry. You had Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Joey Porter and Jerome Bettis. (Those games were as) a physical as a rivalry and physical as a football game that you would ever see. Everybody knew that. But it was never dirty. There may have been some pushing and shoving but that’s just guys. You never worried about cheap and dirty type stuff. I want the Cincinnati rivalry to be the same tough and physical rival that people want to see tough, physical football. You don’t want to see cheap and dirty. I don’t want it get to that.”
KABOLY: Did it get out of control last year?
ROETHLISBERGER “I think it can get out of control and it did at times. I am out there and you see all the stuff going on under the piles. It is one thing to talk a little trash and another thing to say some of things that are being said. The referees have to keep it under control but we as players have to be better and go play on both sides.”