For Love of the Game: The Ben Roethlisberger Story, Pt. 1

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IApril 1, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers under center against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Remember Ben Roethlisberger's rookie season? You know, the one where the Steelers went 15-1 under the supervision of a freakishly athletic rookie quarterback?

Is there anyone out there that thought he was going to be able to do that?

Or how about the two Super Bowls he's helped the Steelers win? The man is sheer greatness, no? Well, as with every athlete, he too has a life outside the NFL.

Have you ever wondered why Roethlisberger always does the same thing after every touchdown he scores?

To know the answer to that question, you have to know about his background.

When he was eight-years-old his mother, Ida, died after a car accident on her way to pick him up. Now, after every touchdown he points to the sky to remember his mother.

The two NFL players he admired the most were John Elway and Joe Montana. He wears the No. 7 due to John Elway, as he did every chance he got growing up.

Some may not know this about Roethlisberger, but growing up his best and favorite sport was basketball, and he dreamed of becoming an NBA star. What luck for the members of Steelers Nation that he didn't.

Not to mention the fact that he also excelled on the baseball field. He was only "mediocre" on the football field, playing back up quarterback for his first two seasons and riding the bench in his junior year while the coaches son started.

He decided to play wide receiver his junior year but dreamt about becoming the quarterback of the Findlay Trojans in his senior year—a feat which he accomplished.

Having played as a receiver, he knew how to read defenses and just where the seams were. This proved to be a major weapon, as well as the agility he gained through basketball which allowed this huge, 6' 5" athlete to not only overpower rushers but also send them to the ground with a single cut move.

Ever wonder why he's so good outside of the pocket and throwing on the run? He credits that to playing shortstop. Who knew? Baseball can actually help!

He threw six touchdowns in his first high school start at quarterback, landing a full ride from Miami of Ohio.

That's right, one game, six touchdowns and he was offered a full ride the very next day. That's incredible.

Ben lead the Trojans to the second round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) playoffs, losing to Grove City in that round. That year he set two OHSAA records, the first in yards with 4,041, and the other in touchdowns with 54.

Instead of playing basketball at the collegiate level, he decided to play quarterback. We'll examine his time at Miami of Ohio in the next article.