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Ben Roethlisberger, the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, is a name etched in NFL history. How big was Ben Roethlisberger in his prime? With three Super Bowl appearances and two victories under his belt, Roethlisberger’s illustrious career has left an indelible mark on the sport. But as he gracefully transitions into retirement, he’s applying the invaluable lessons he learned on the football field to a different arena: life and love.

Lessons that Guide Ben Roethlisberger Off the Field

Today, he’s retired from football after 18 seasons as a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But how many Super Bowls did Ben Roethlisberger play in during that time? Well, he made three Super Bowl appearances, and won two of those games. Clearly, he learned a lot about success during his NFL career. And that’s why, as he enters his post-football season of life, the former football player is applying those lessons to his most valued relationship — the one with his wife of 12 years, Ashley Harlan. 

The Intersection of Football and Marriage

One key lesson Roethlisberger took from his time playing football is that he could learn from those who were less experienced than himself. Now, this was surprising to many people, as he recalled on the “Dad Tired” podcast often being asked, “How are you accepting advice or wisdom from a quarterback coach that never played in the NFL and you played for 18 years?” 

But for the star athlete, this really wasn’t a challenge. He explained, “What you do is you accept the understanding that they’ve probably put more time and effort in terms of studying the playbook, studying the opponent.” 

As such, he added, “When they bring stuff to you … they’re not telling you how to throw a football; you know how to do that. They’re not telling you how to drop back to pass, or hand off, or call a play in the huddle. What they’re doing is they’re giving you their two cents … on what they’ve learned from” watching you in action, as an outside observer. 

He said that today, he views his former relationship with coaches as being “like a marriage” because “you have the same goal of being successful, [but] you’re both going about it differently.” In football terms, he explained, that meant, “I’m on the field doing the physical, working, doing those things. Then, your coach is sometimes in the background, or right beside you doing stuff, but their work is just different from your work. You’re trying to accomplish the same goal, but you’re going about it differently, and you trust that they’ve put in the work, and that they watch the film, that they’re in the playbook, that they’re watching your opponent. They’re watching your last game to help you with what you could have done better.”

Luckily with his coaching, Roethlisberger noted, “They’re not telling you, ‘Hey, you should have thrown it like this.’ It’s like, ‘Your read might’ve been here instead of how to throw it.’” And, having learned from that respectful dynamic, the athlete has been able to view his dynamic with his wife through a different yet similar lens. 

Leading by Following

Today, Roethlisberger knows, “My wife is probably a better prayer than me,” and yet, he noted, they’ve found a balance where he can still serve as a spiritual guide for their family of five. He says, despite being less “skilled” in the area, “I’m talking to the guys out there: Your wife will absolutely love it when you say, ‘Let’s pray. I’m going to pray for the family, I’m going to pray for you.’ Even if it’s not that great, you’ll get better at it too, I promise you.” 

Admittedly, he said, “The first prayer that I prayed with my wife was probably not any good … [but] I’m really great now, I feel more comfortable doing it, I feel more comfortable praying in front of other people.” And, for those who want to find the same comfort and confidence, Roethlisberger suggests just pushing through any hesitance. After all, he concluded, “You’ll get better as a man doing that, but she will absolutely love the fact that you take the initiative to do it, and that means the world to her.” In short, he believes, “Every woman out there wants to be protected by her man.” Just like every player wants to be protected and guided by their coach.

Learn more about Ben Roethlisberger and his wife, Ashley Harlan here: https://convoyofhope.org/convoy-news/qa-with-ashley-roethlisberger/

By Manali