Ben Roethlisberger today spoke publicly for the first time since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him six weeks ago.
Roethlisberger, who rejoined his Steelers teammates Tuesday after Goodell granted him permission, spoke briefly to a gaggle of news media after practice on the field at the team's training facility on the South Side.
He then took two questions before a spokesman ended the quick interview session.
Here is the transcript:
Roethlisberger: "I appreciate it guys. I know you guys have been waiting for a long time to talk to me as I have to you. I just wanted to make a quick, let you guys know how good it is to be back on the field. It's been a long time away, it's been hard but I put a long time and effort and working hard both on and off the field while I've been gone. It's not the same, I love football to death. But I think it's meant more to be out here with my teammates, my brothers, my family, if you will. So that's what has really been neat about being back out here.
"I've put a lot of thought into my life, decisions that I've made in the past that I've been sitting at home thinking about things. I've been working closely with the commissioner on ways to make changes, corrections. So, I'm looking forward to the second chance and a second opportunity, not just in football because I think everyone knows what you're going to get in football, but in life. I think that's what's kind of more important.
"Like I said I'm happy to be back out here, even kind of happy to see you guys again. So, maybe I'll take a question or two."
Q: You got a lot of public support from your teammates; do you see this as a new beginning?
Roethlisberger: "Yeah, it's been great to read and hear from those guys, not just text messages and calls they send to me but to read the things in the media they said. So I say it's great to be out here with my brothers because they really are family to me. Like I said, I spent a lot of time evaluating and looking at my life both on and off the field. I think this is time for me to kind of close the chapter of the last couple years of my life and move on to a new one, kind of a new start. I'm kind of really excited about it."
Q: What kind of changes are you talking about that you want to make?
Roethlisberger: "A lot of them are personal things, you know, which is just something that I need to do. But it's been neat being able to really re-evaluate my life and spend time with my family and kind of re-evaluate and re-figure what's important in my life. That's me ... evaluating what I need to do and be smarter when it comes to certain things. Like I said it's a new chapter and I'm looking forward to it and it starts with football. I'm glad to be back here ... I'll be talking to you guys a lot more."
Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of the season but said he would reduce it to four if the quarterback follows a path the commissioner has laid out for him. Goodell took the action based on a sexual assault claim by a woman in Georgia in the early morning hours of March 5. Authorities did not charge Roethlisberger with a crime and the woman later asked them not to pursue a case against him.