DALLAS, February 1- Ben Roethlisberger, who missed the first four games of this season because of a suspension, says he hopes people will look beyond his past transgressions and start to see him as a role model.
Roethlisberger spoke Monday after arriving in Texas for Super Bowl 45 and compared the behavior that earned him a four-game ban after allegations of sexual assault to throwing an interception.
"It is about how you come back from mistakes," said Roethlisberger. "It is like a football game. You throw an interception and you bounce back from your mistake.
"I want to be a role model and have kids look up to me. I like it when kids wear my jerseys."
The 28-year-old Roethlisberger is clearly hoping a Super Bowl win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday will further repair his tarnished image.
Roethlisberger was slapped with the suspension in April for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy. He was accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old woman at a Georgia nightclub. Criminal charges were never filed.
In his absence, the Steelers won three-straight games to start the season before dropping their first game 17-14 at home against Baltimore.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Monday that Roethlisberger has the backing of his teammates.
"Ben is a highly respected member of our team," Tomlin said at the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, which will be the Steelers’ headquarters leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl.
"We all make mistakes and his are well documented."
Asked if his experiences had changed him as a person, Roethlisberger became uneasy Monday initially refusing to comment.
"For me to sit and reflect, this is not the time to do it," he repeated several times.
Roethlisberger, a first-round draft pick (11th overall) in 2004, will be going up against another former first-round pick in Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"He is a great quarterback, one of the best in the game," Roethlisberger said of Rodgers, the 24th pick overall in 2005.
Roethlisberger threw for a franchise record 503 yards against Green Bay late in the 2009 season, including a game-winning 19 yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace for the 37-36 win.
"If you look at the two teams on paper, we run the ball a bit more than they do but the neat thing is these are two storied franchises going against each other," Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger said the moment the Steelers got off the plane Monday they knew this week was going to be different.
"You see the helicopters, the police and the media and if you are not used to it then it can be overwhelming."
For all his personal lapses in judgment off it, Roethlisberger remains a warrior on the field.
He has guided the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles and no one questions his toughness.
"Ben is just one of those guys that knows how to get it done," said Green Bay cornerback Charlie Woodson said after the National Conference championship game January 23. "He’s not going to always kill you with numbers and those sort of things. But when their team needs a play he can get it done."
Asked if a win Sunday would be extra special because of everything he has gone through this season, Roethlisberger quipped, "If you need extra motivation to win the Super Bowl then something is wrong with you."
Roethlisberger is the focal point on Steelers’ offence, known for his game-changing moments like scrambling out of the pocket after a broken play and turning it into a big gain.
"He is a very big guy. We played him last year and had trouble bringing him down. Hopefully I can get him down. I’d like to think so," said Green Bay tackle BJ Raji said.