PITTSBURGH -- Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger once again stood at a podium Monday and held a news conference in front of a large group of media. It was a familiar scene at Pittsburgh's training facility, as Roethlisberger did the same twice within about a year following a pair of sexual assault allegations.
But Monday's news conference was much more positive. In his first day back from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, a humbled Roethlisberger spoke of being excited about his return, getting back to his roots and enjoying the warm reception from his teammates.
"One of the worst parts about it is that I love football and I miss that more than anything," Roethlisberger said. "But to be away from my guys, my brothers, my family, that was one of the worst parts, and that's what made coming here today so great.
"Every single one of the guys I've seen gave me a big hug. I was just so happy to see that, and they were so happy to see me as well."
The two-time Super Bowl winner has plenty of making up to do with the Steelers, his teammates and the city of Pittsburgh. Now it's time to make things right with all of the above.
Credit Roethlisberger for saying the right things Monday and during training camp, but the proof will be in his actions. Will Roethlisberger be a better teammate? Can he eventually be a leader in Pittsburgh again? Will Roethlisberger have a quiet offseason? These are all questions that will be answered in time.
Roethlisberger will have to work his way back slowly. For the first time since 2007, he was not elected captain by his teammates, which Roethlisberger understood after being absent for one month.
"That's something you have to earn, and I will come out and give them the best I can," Roethlisberger said. "Just because you're not a captain doesn't mean you can't give this team all you've got."
The Steelers proved they can win without Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh went 3-1 in the first month of the season and has established itself as one of the NFL's top teams.
Roethlisberger said it was hard to sit still watching the Steelers on television, but he was happy to see them win. Now it's up to the quarterback to fit in and keep the team going in the right direction. Pittsburgh, which has a bye this week, will host the Cleveland Browns (1-3) on Oct. 17.
"I think there's a lot of great chemistry on this team right now," Roethlisberger said. "They are playing great football on offense, defense and special teams from what I've been able to watch of the games. I'm not coming to try to be anything more than what I am. I'm just trying to be helpful and do whatever I can to help this team win football games."
Monday marked a new beginning for Roethlisberger's career with the Steelers. His mission this season is to show growth off the field, while on the field helping Pittsburgh get to Super Bowl XLV. Based on what I've seen from Roethlisberger and the Steelers so far, neither goal appears out of reach.