When it comes to sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the reputation of being a team that’s easy to root for. Sure, they’ve had their share of rocky moments in the past, but overall, the fans have had a great time watching the team play. And maybe it’s because of this team’s reputation, but when it comes to Ben Roethlisberger, they have shown him the love he has earned.
When the Steelers came to town this year, Ben Roethlisberger made a surprise visit to a local high school. He stopped by to cheer on the host team, the Marietta Stars, before the game. He was greeted by seniors Chris Fagan and Michael Danger, who were playing for the team because Fagan was facing death in his battle with cancer.
In a touching gesture, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger immediately felt a connection to a sick 16-year-old athlete.
Over the course of his 17-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger has achieved a lot. He’s a two-time Super Bowl winner, a seven-time Pro Bowler, a two-time passing yardage leader, and a multiple NFL record holder, including the most 500-yard throwing games. And he’s still doing well, completing 65.6 percent of his throws for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions in 2020. He didn’t mind dubbing himself the “second-best quarterback” in the Pittsburgh region earlier this week when he helped a high school quarterback with cancer realize his desire to give his supporting teammates a new set of jerseys.
Garrett King, a quarterback at Freeport High School, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year.
Garrett King was preparing for his junior year at Freeport Area High School, which is about 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, a year ago at this time. In 2020, King was expected to play both quarterback and defensive back for the Yellowjackets, but he was forced to sit out the whole season after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, which necessitated surgery.
He wanted to give something back after receiving so much support and well-wishes from his teammates and the Freeport community as a whole, and he was finally able to do so on Monday with a little assistance from Roethlisberger.
On July 28, 2021, Ben Roethlisberger prepares to throw a ball during Pittsburgh Steelers training camp | Getty Images/Justin K. Aller
As King’s rehabilitation progressed, he and his family devised a strategy to thank his colleagues for their unwavering support throughout the ordeal. They approached Freeport athletic director Shawn Stivenson with the notion of obtaining the squad new jerseys, who then contacted the Make-A-Request Foundation, which granted King’s wish.
King and his colleagues went to Stage AE, a musical venue on the North Shore near Heinz Field, on Monday. While the rest of the crew thought the trip was a team-building exercise since Monday was the first day of heat acclimation exercises, King knew they were there for the big unveiling of the new uniforms, a secret he had to keep hidden for months, which he admits was tough.
But even King had no idea about the second major surprise: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger was presented to a standing ovation after a brief introduction from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and it was at that point that he referred to himself as the “second-best quarterback” in the region, which was cool enough in and of itself. The bespoke Nike jerseys, which King helped design, were then unveiled by Big Ben. But there was another surprise in store for him: Nike had embroidered “King Strong” on the back of his neck, adding another wonderful touch to an already fantastic day. The Yellowjackets will also get new gloves and shoes from Nike.
And, speaking about footwear,
Roethlisberger also gave King a set of special Nike sneakers autographed by Phil Knight.
While the whole squad got new jerseys, Roethlisberger surprised King with a few additional presents. The first was a copy of Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s autobiography, which Roethlisberger called “one of the greatest books I’ve ever read,” and the second was a pair of bespoke Nikes autographed by Knight, which Big Ben joked he shouldn’t wear to practice.
Following the event, King stated how wonderful the day was and how much he loved meeting Roethlisberger (h/t Trib Live High School Sports Network).
“My jaw fell to the floor when I saw Big Ben [Roethlisberger] come out from behind the curtain. Everyone became enraged and began clapping. He’s someone I’ve admired throughout my life and football career. He was so amazing that I was able to speak to him and shake his hand. It meant so much to me that he supported me and thought so highly of me.”
Ben Roethlisberger, according to Garrett King
The greatest news of all is that King’s medical tests have shown positive results, and he will return to the field this season. King says he feels “powerful and quick” and that he and his teammates are “ready to go” when the Yellowjackets kick off their 2021 season on August 27 against Armstrong High.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers will kick off the 2021 NFL season on September 12 against the Buffalo Bills in a high-profile game.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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Recently, a story came across my desk, about a high school football player suffering from cancer. It was an amazing story for all the wrong reasons. A few days later, I read about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who helped out a high school teammate with cancer fulfill his dream of playing football for his team. This amazing story brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.. Read more about ben roethlisberger super bowl and let us know what you think.
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