LAUPERSWIL, Switzerland -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is enchanted with nearly everything in his ancestral homeland of Switzerland, except maybe the quality of football played here.
Schools closed, villagers came from miles away and even diplomats celebrated today's visit by Roethlisberger, who led the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship this year and whose great-great-grandfather originated from this small town in the Swiss cheese-producing region of Emmental.
"It is something out of a dream or a movie," Roethlisberger said in Lauperswil, a town of 2,800 people about 20 miles east of the capital, Bern. "I'm starting to feel more Swiss the longer I'm here."
Roethlisberger, on a weeklong trip to discover his family's roots in Switzerland, tried his hand at hornussen -- a Swiss sport somewhere between golf and baseball -- listened to accordion and Alphorn-driven folk music, tasted the local cheese, and met family members still living near his family's former farm.
The quarterback seemed as excited as the townsfolk by the experience, busily snapping photos of the rustic barns, horse-drawn carriages and grassy valleys of this traditional, still largely agricultural region. He also inquired about purchasing a Bernese Sennenhund and got to see his old family coat-of-arms reproduced from local archives for the occasion.