Ben Roethlisberger spent the first four decades of his life becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history while standing firm on a foundation of faith. For his next 40 years, he says, he wants to use his platform to expand God's kingdom, which will include the launch of a father-son retreat near his home.
Roethlisberger, who turned 40 this month after retiring as quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, told Sports Spectrum's podcast and host Jason Romano that discipleship is near to his heart.
"We just bought a farm about a mile from my house," the Super Bowl-winning QB said of the father-son retreat. "We're gonna have hiking trails, we're gonna have horses, we're gonna have fishing, we're gonna have fruit trees and chickens for eggs and bees for honey and all this stuff."
The goal, he said, is to "connect fathers and sons."
Society, Roethlisberger said, is better when children have fathers and families spend time outside.
"I grew up with a great dad, and we loved the outdoors," he said. "... And I just think that people need to get back outside and understand the beauty that God created."
Roethlisberger grew up in a Christian home, and although he called himself a believer during his college years and his first few years in the NFL, he said his faith wasn't strong. He let his fame go to his head, he said, living "larger than life" and placing his beliefs "on the backburner."
His faith, though, grew as he became an NFL veteran – and as he became a father. That growth in his faith reached a milestone several years ago when he rededicated his life and was baptized. He had been baptized as an infant.
"I didn't make the decision to get baptized," he said of being baptized as an infant. "And I felt like it was time for me to make that decision. … I wanted to show my kids that I'm making the decision, the choice, because our kids have been dedicated, but not baptized.
"We feel that baptism is your decision to make. ... I wanted to ... show my kids [that] even at a later age, you can make that decision to follow Christ and to put Him first in your life."
Roethlisberger said he was baptized "just to show the world … that I'm living for Jesus."
"This platform is here, and God is telling me to use it," he said.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.