Suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been communicating with at least one NFL player -- Baltimore's legendary linebacker Ray Lewis.
In fact, Roethlisberger sent a text message to Lewis Tuesday night, five days before the Steelers play the Ravens at Heinz Field in what coach Mike Tomlin called the best rivalry in the NFL.
"He texted me last night and things like that,'' Lewis said on a conference call this morning with members of the Pittsburgh media who cover the Steelers. "It's a respect we have for each other, but more importantly it's a respect you got to have for yourself."
Lewis said he and Roethlisberger have been in contact throughout the Steelers quarterback's ordeal that began March 5 when he was accused by a 20-year-old female college student of sexual assault in Milledgeville, Ga. Roethlisberger was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the first four games of the season as a result, under the league's personal conduct policy. Roethlisberger can return to the team Monday.
"He hit me last night,'' Lewis said, talking about the text message he received from Roethlisberger. "We always hit each other. There are many people I hit. Just simple stuff.
"He wishes he was out there, he wishes he was out there, man. It's a respect thing that we have playing against each other. It's a rivalry, but, once again, it goes back to a level of respect.
"This aint the first time he texted me. We texted each other whenever he was going through what he was going through, I was there for him. It's more of a brotherhood. The game always takes care of itself on the field, but off the field if we don't look out for each other nobody else will."
Lewis himself overcame a scandal after he was charged with murder following the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000. The murder charge was dropped after Lewis agreed to testify against two other men and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.
He said he advised Roethlisberger to put his troubles behind him and move ahead.
"You're not trying to please the world; if you're trying to please the world you're going to confuse yourself,'' Lewis said today. "If you're going to worry what people say about you, you're going to confuse yourself.
"All you can do is move on, live on and whatever he puts behind him as a man, and he puts behind him whatever he's going through, leave it there. Don't let nobody pull you back into it, don't let nobody make you keep talking about it. Once it's done, it's done."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers . Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.