“We didn’t grow up watching football on television. It’s not like today where everyone is glued to their sets. That wasn’t a point of Sunday, watching football games. You went to church, came home and played outside. It’s almost surreal to know he is in the middle of this. We didn’t make football a priority. I am so proud, especially the way he handled himself through adversity. That is what I am prouder of than the things he does on the field. Just to see the way he is raising his three kids and the husband he is to Ashley. We look at each other sometimes and say we are so proud of that.” — Ken Roethlisberger.

Beautiful Father’s Day tribute from Teresa Varley at Steelers.com:

There is something special that Kelcy Dotson, Ferrell Edmunds, Sam Highsmith, Ken Roethlisberger and John Watt all have in common.

And it goes well beyond the fact that they have sons who play for the Steelers, including guard Kevin Dotson, safety Terrell Edmunds and running back Trey Edmunds, linebacker Alex Highsmith, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and fullback Derek Watt and linebacker T.J. Watt.

More than anything, the one thing they share is their pride in their sons, not just because they are playing in the NFL, but because of the men they are.

Ken and Ben Roethlisberger:

Ken Roethlisberger might have done something no other coach has done to Ben Roethlisberger.

He benched him.

Now mind you, it had nothing to do with his play at all, nothing to do with his hard work.

It was simply because dad didn’t want to show favoritism.

“I think I coached him his first year when he played soccer when he was really small,” said Ken Roethlisberger. “I found that I put him on the bench too much because he was my son and I wanted to be fair. You know how they are when they are little. You are supposed to share time. I did that more than I should have because I didn’t want my kid playing more than others and upset a parent. Then I thought that isn’t fair, so I left it up to someone else to decide if they wanted to put him on the bench or play him. I opted to stop coaching. I never coached him on the field anymore. I coached him at home afterwards, on the way home we talked about it, or in the backyard. That is when I did my coaching.”

While his days coaching Ben might have been limited, the support he gave him was anything but. He would be at all his games, from the time he was that little guy playing soccer all the way through 2020, attending games at Heinz Field when protocols allowed for several weeks during the season.

Through the years he has heard the criticism of his son, whether it be after a tough game or just someone questioning if he still has it. He tries not to listen, but as we all know, it’s hard to always ignore.

“I don’t turn on the radio much,” said Roethlisberger. “I will sometimes after games to hear the injures because we care about his teammates. That is the only time we turn it on.

“It’s frustrating. You have to keep in mind everybody has opinions and are entitled to them. I have watched him so many years I know whether he played a good game or not. He knows whether he played a good game or not. It doesn’t always come through to a lot of people watching the game. It’s frustrating, but at the same time I understand. It’s the way people are.”

Roethlisberger and his wife Brenda moved to the Western Pennsylvania area to be closer to Ben, his wife Ashley and their three kids, Benjamin, Baylee and Bodie, just enjoying quality family time whenever they can. And a lot of that time for Ken and Ben, is spent enjoying the outdoors, something they have done from day one.

“I would say being outdoors is our favorite,” said Roethlisberger. “We golf together. We enjoy that. But hunting and fishing because I think it gets him away from sports. He has taken us on long trips to get away, we went to Alaska, to Brett Keisel’s place in Wyoming. We went to trout streams in Central Pennsylvania. We hunt around here together. Those are when we connect the best.

“When he was a kid it was all sports, things in the yard. It’s nice to get him away from that. That is where we connect the best now.

“We love to fish. I used to do it as a kid. When I grew up, I had two older brothers and our father would take us fly fishing in Michigan in junior high. I learned to do that. We fished when Ben was a kid. When he was in junior high. I took him to Michigan like my dad did with me and he learned to fly fish. That is something our family has done together.”

Even Ben’s kids are now fishing, although not fly fishing yet, and it makes Ken thrilled to see the tradition passed down.

“It’s special, especially since it’s something different than what he is known for,” said Roethlisberger. “It’s what God has created for us. It’s been special for the whole family. For my dad to teach me, me teach him and him pass it on to his kids, it’s hard to beat that as a father. That is just what you hope for.”

Roethlisberger said when Ben was younger, it was a father/son relationship, something he thought was important. Now, it’s a friendship.

“I was his dad. I disciplined him,” said Roethlisberger. “There was one time he didn’t do well in school and I made him sit out a year of little league. It’s something he still remembers, and I hear him tell his kids the same thing. When you talk to kids, you know they hear you, they just don’t always acknowledge it. A lot of things we say as parents we realize they are being heard. To have him turn around and do that with his kids, it helps me, makes me realize I did a few things right.

“I would give him advice as a kid, and he would ask me for advice. He still does, but they are different things now. There is nothing I can teach him about football. I might say something, why didn’t you do this, or why did you do that, and he will say that’s on me. We don’t talk about football, maybe only one percent of the time. He will call me and ask about gardening, or planting a tree, or raising the kids. We talk about that stuff way more than football.”

While it’s something they don’t talk about, there is no doubt Roethlisberger is proud of what his son has accomplished, both on and off the field.

“I don’t even know how to start with that. It’s just amazing.” said Roethlisberger.

Take a few minutes and stop by to read the rest of Ms. Varley’s Steelers Father’s Day tribute! And check out the great Father’s Day photo album while you’re there!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, granddads and uncles in Steelers Nation!!