The Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills will hold combined practices leading up to their preseason matchup Saturday at Heinz Field. In the build up to that exhibition, Ben Roethlisberger discussed his relationship with Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, whose struggles have been well documented in recent months.
It started at Kelly’s golf tournament when Roethlisberger was still a young quarterback in the league. The two quickly bonded and Roethlisberger ended up spending time at Kelly’s cottage in Ellicottville, NY.
“For a Hall of Famer to come down to my level, if you will, just meant so much,” Roethlisberger said per the Trib-Live. “He’s a guy I can call when things aren’t going well. I’ll get notes from him after games, good and bad: ‘Keep your head up.’ ‘Great job.’ To have someone like that I can call a friend? That’s first and foremost. And I think he’d say the same thing: He looks at me as a friend.”
Big Ben also commented on Kelly’s battle with cancer, which was thoroughly explored in a touching piece at halftime of the Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.
“I can only imagine what Jim and his family are going through,” Roethlisberger says. “I’ve stayed in touch through phone messages and calls. The last time we talked was after the Hall of Fame ceremony. I shot him a note and said, ‘I know it wasn’t easy for you to be up there, but you looked good, bud.’ It’s tough to see such a tough, strong guy go through that.”
It’s just another reminder that while these guys can be warriors on the grass gridirons, it’s the battles they fight at home that mean the most. Add Ben Roethlisberger to the droves of people wishing Jim Kelly and his family the very best in these trying times.