FINDLAY – Ben Roethlisberger and several of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates showed they probably don’t want to give up their day jobs in the NFL and take up softball, but it was all for fun and a good cause.
Roethlisberger, a Findlay High School graduate, and Steelers players like Cam Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey, JuJu Schuster-Smith and others took the field at Findlay’s varsity baseball diamond on Sunday to raise money for Findlay High School’s athletic department and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which donates to K-9 units of police and fire departments.
Around 2,000 tickets were sold in advance for the event.
“It’s awesome. This is for a good cause. All the proceeds raised, we’re splitting them 50-50 for Findlay High School and for my foundation,” Roethlisberger said. “To date my foundation has given almost $2 million to canine search and rescue. We’re excited to be able to give back to Findlay.
“The support is really awesome. It feels really good. My family all drove over and my family in Lima and in Michigan are here,” he said.
Roethlisberger said he had no trouble getting teammates to participate in the game. “It was just a quick ask and they were all excited to jump on board and do it.”
One of his Steelers teammates, former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, met the Pittsburgh media for the first time last week since suffering a severe spinal injury in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in December.
Even though he used a cane to walk to the lectern at the press conference, Shazier told reporters he wants to play in the NFL again.
“My dream is to come back and play football,” he said. “I’m trying to do everything I can to get back.”
When Roethlisberger was asked how Shazier or any NFL player could consider playing again after an injury that nearly left him paralyzed, he said passion was the best word to describe that level of desire.
“You have to have a passion to play this game. And if you don’t have a passion you’re not going to last very long. And when you have a passion and it’s taken from you it doesn’t mean the passion goes away. Sometimes it makes that passion burn stronger,” he said. “We just keep Ryan in our prayers and ask everyone else to do that. We can all use prayer.”