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Pittsburgh native NBA player met Ben Roethlisberger and stopped rooting for the Steelers

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Philadelphia 76ers point guard T.J. McConnell is a football fan who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, but that doesn’t mean he’s always been a Steelers fan.

In fact, though McConnell did root for the Steelers for much of his childhood, there was a point where he decided to be a fan of another team instead.

The reason for his change of mind? Well, that would be Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

McConnell, who scored 19 points with eight rebounds and five assists Tuesday as the 76ers stayed alive in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, went on the “Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday to talk about his performance.

At one point in the conversation, McConnell’s football fandom came up, and that’s when he revealed the grudge he once held against Roethlisberger.

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It all started when McConnell, now 26, was in sixth grade. Roethlisberger showed up to a “Hoops for a Cure” event at his school, and apparently the two had a less-than-positive interaction.

“I met Roethlisberger awhile ago when I was little, but it wasn’t too good of an interaction,” McConnell said. “I respect him as a player, but he wasn’t exactly the nicest guy.”


Years later, McConnell said he understands why Roethlisberger may have come off as a bit rude.

Was McConnell justified in switching team loyalties due to the interaction he had with Roethlisberger?

“He was getting bombarded left and right, so I completely understand,” he said, adding that this was not long after the Steelers had won Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks.

At the time, though, McConnell was so upset that he stopped rooting for his favorite football team. Instead, he opted to become a fan of one of the Steelers’ AFC North rivals, before switching back to the Steelers.

“I was a little petty and rooted for some teams in our division. And then I reverted back to (being a) Steelers fan,” he said. “I was a Cincinnati Bengals fan for a little bit … and they never were any good when I rooted for them.”

Patrick then suggested that if the 76ers were able to win again Wednesday, McConnell could offer Roethlisberger tickets to Game 6.

“I’ll see what I can do,” McConnell said. “But he might not be too interested.”

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This hypothetical situation ended up not mattering, as the 76ers lost in Game 5 and were eliminated from the postseason.

McConnell will have to wait if he wants to once again meet the Steelers quarterback.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
Birthplace
Brooklyn, New York
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Politics




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