Before Ben Roethlisberger finalizes his decision to return for a 14th NFL season, he’s off to New Zealand with buddy Jim Kelly.
A special guest is making the trip. Kelly, the legendary Buffalo Bills quarterback who has successfully battled oral cancer, posted a photo on Instagram of the two quarterbacks and "LITTLE BEN," who has Stage 4 cancer. “Big Ben and I will make sure he has the hunt of a lifetime,” Kelly wrote in the post. “Prayers for little Ben.”
A while back, Kelly, Roethlisberger and a group of friends organized the New Zealand trip based around a red-stag archery tournament.
Before last season’s Week 14 matchup at Buffalo, Roethlisberger talked about striking a friendship with Kelly, who met him at a fundraiser years back. The two remain close and communicate often. During yearly hunting trips, Roethlisberger said, the friends “talk about everything” while huddled around a campfire at night.
“It was scary, obviously, for a long time -- it still is,” Roethlisberger said about Kelly’s cancer fight. “He still deals with those things. I know he’s in a good place with the Lord and his family, which means a lot. You don’t want to lose a guy like that. We’re glad he’s still here and going strong.”
Roethlisberger has stayed relatively low-key since telling 93.7 The Fan in late January that he would evaluate whether he wants to play next year. But on March 17, Roethlisberger told the Ignite Men’s Conference in Liberty University that he was "leaning towards" playing in 2017, effectively decreasing the heart levels for Pittsburgh fans.