Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes were the heroes of the Steelers’ 27-23 win over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, as Roethlisberger hooked up with Holmes for the game-winning touchdown in the final moments.
Both have experienced difficult times since that magical moment, with Roethlisberger implicated in an alleged sexual assault in Georgia in March and Holmes running afoul of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Both returned this week from four-game suspensions handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but with markedly different mindsets.
Roethlisberger has repeatedly expressed deep regret for his actions, and even suggested in an interview on ESPN’s NFL Live yesterday that he considered leaving football. Holmes, meanwhile, said he didn’t reflect at all on his suspension. “Not one percent,” he said on Wednesday.
“There was a time when I was going through all this that I contemplated not playing anymore,” Roethlisberger said. “I didn't want to be Big Ben anymore. And I know that's what goes along with being No. 7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So part of me, I can admit didn't want to play anymore. And go coach or do something else."
In the end, Roethlisberger said his love of the game and his closeness to Steelers teammates convinced him not to quit. He also expressed deep regret for what happened in the alleged sexual assault, for which he was not charged.
“I will tell you this. I never have and never will harm a female in the way I was accused. . . . I would never hurt a female like that, never,” he said.
Holmes, who was de-activated for a game during the Steelers’ 2008 Super Bowl season, was unapologetic upon his return. When asked if he had used the time away from the NFL to reflect on his situation, he said, “To look in your eyes, and be honest with you? Not one percent. I’ve been the same person since I step foot in the NFL, I’ll continue being the same person until I leave… I didn’t have anything to think about. Everything was already done, in the process. It's time to play football now.”
When asked if he reflected on his situation during the 2008 season, when he was arrested for marijuana possession, he said he did not. “I made it to the Super Bowl, and won, didn't I?” he said.