Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Honors Fallen K-9 Hero
Ben Roethlisberger Goes The Extra Mile To Honor Fallen K-9 Hero
Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been best known for being one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks for more than a decade. But “Big Ben” is a prominent figure in the law enforcement community as well, for a different, and even more admirable reason.
In August, we covered his charitable work in support of police and first responder K-9 units around the country. Since 2007, his foundation has distributed more than $1.5 million in support of K-9 units; money which helps purchase, train and equip dogs and handlers.
Roethlisberger plans on showing his support for police, and one hero K-9 in particular, on Sunday when the Steelers take on the New York Giants at Heinz Field. As a part of the NFL’s #MyCauseMyCleats initiative, a social campaign in which players, with the approval of the NFL, may wear cleats bearing messages for charities or causes for which they are involved during week 13 matchups. For Roethlisberger’s message, he chose fallen Pittsburgh Police K-9 hero, Rocco.
In January of 2014, K-9 Rocco and his handler Officer Phil Lerza were both stabbed, and several other officer assaulted during the arrest of a violent sex offender. Officer Lerza’s stab wound was thankfully not life threatening. Rocco however wasn’t as lucky. The K-9 succumbed to his wound and was given a hero’s funeral with over 1000 members of the law enforcement community attending. The attacker was subsequently convicted and is currently serving a 17-44 year prison sentence.
Roethlisberger’s cleats will bear Rocco’s likeness along with his badge and the K-9 officer’s call-sign, “321K”. The cleats will also honor Make A Wish, another charity for which Roethlisberger’s foundation has helped. He said in a Facebook statement:
“My cleats for this week’s #MyCauseMyCleats initiative to celebrate and bring awareness to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which honors Make A Wish and police & fire agencies nationwide. I also wanted to honor fallen K-9 Rocco of the Pittsburgh Police Department with his badge, name, and call sign/unit number on the side of the shoe.”
In a time when officers are being gunned down at an alarming rate while serving their communities, when police are being attacked by hate groups who incite much of the violence against them, and when some in pro sports are purveyors of that harmful sentiment, it’s good to see someone of such public prominence like Ben Roethlisberger stand up in the face of all that and support the men and women in blue who risk it all.
What do you think of the cleats? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.