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"Life in the UK"
Big Ben chimes in on Knee, 8-8 Season
The NFL is heading to London once again this coming season with not one, but two games below the Wembley Arch. The first game will see the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Minnesota Vikings, September 29, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dropped by this past week to check out his namesake, Westminster's own 'Big Ben'. Josh Modaberi caught up with him for The American.
Is Roethlisberger excited about coming to England? "I'm very excited to play at Wembley," he said, "The only thing that I know about Wembley is from watching soccer games on the television and just how crazy the fans are and the energy in the crowd. It reminds me of a game back home.
Asked about the long-haul stresses of a game in London, the Steelers QB conceded: "From a players perspective everyone dreads the flight back and forth - that's the worst part about it but everyone I've talked to that's played over here has really enjoyed the whole atmosphere and the trip in general, from the people to the stadium to the game itself.
"I understand the game is gaining in popularity over here, and I think the reason people are so intrigued is because of how physical it is. It's full contact, it's the most physical sport there is, but there is still a touch of finesse to it; some of the things the running backs do are just beautiful and athletic. The game of football just brings so much to the table, it kind of sucks you in."
Last season the Steelers finished 8-8, missing the play-offs. Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner with Pittsburgh, believes it felt like a losing season. His objectives for the coming season extend much further than a European trip:
"In 2013/14 we need to win a Super Bowl," the 31-year-old explained. "That's always our expectations, so when we don't make the play-offs or we don't get to the Super Bowl that's a disappointment and a failure for us. Not making the play-offs last season motivates us to come back and be better than ever, to put the work in during the offseason and to come out strong and get to the Super Bowl."
On his recovery from last season's knee injury, Roethlisberger commented: "The knee operation went really well. I only missed three practices, and I've been around this league long enough to know they're not as important as training camp or regular season practice. My knee feels great, it feels better than it's felt in about three years so that's encouraging. I think toughness - as much as it's in your body - it's in your mindset.
"I feel healthier than I have in a long time and it's about putting the work in during the off-season and being blessed from up above. To play ten years in this league or more, I think the average lifespan of a football player is three years so to have anything past that, you have to count as a blessing.
"The more you get hit throughout your career the harder it is to get up in the morning and the more your ankles, knees and shoulders pop, but that is part of the game we play. Every single guy that signs up for this game knows what they are signing up for."
However, Roethlisberger doesn't plan to take things any easier as the new season approaches.
"With my game, they say you shouldn't extend the play because something bad could happen and you can get hit, you don't know," the quarterback added. "That's the beauty of the game, when you're a competitor you can't just tell yourself 'okay let me just quit on this play', and that's one of the reasons why I don't go down easily.
"It's just not in my blood, it's not in my genes to give up on anything and not compete to want to be the best."