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The 30-year-old Steelers star walked in the graduation ceremony at Miami (Ohio) on May 6 after completing his B.S. degree in education.

DAN PATRICK:How important was it to get a college degree?

BEN ROETHLISBERGER: It was very important. I made a promise to myself and my parents. I feel pretty proud of it.

DP:Did you take any classes recently that really stuck with you?

BR: The last one I took was an anthropology course on Tibetan culture. I knew absolutely nothing about it other than that Brad Pitt did a movie on Tibet one time.... I read books and wrote some papers. It's a very interesting situation.

DP:Where does the degree rank with your Super Bowl rings?

BR: I'm just as proud of this as I am of the Super Bowls.

DP:With there being so much discussion about the well-being of former players, how concerned are you with how your health will be in 15 years?

BR: Not too much. I only know one way to play and that's all-out. When you go home and you're with your wife and family, you do think about it. You just hope that if you take care of your body, you'll be O.K. in 15 years.

DP:Do you have any injuries that you feel every day?

BR: Yeah, my ankle isn't [completely recovered], but they say it will get better. It still pops. My shoulder still hurts. [But there's] nothing that scares me to the point that I feel like I want to stop [playing]. I've had some concussions, [but] I don't have headaches every day. [Since I've been] wearing a new helmet [Riddell Revo Speed Classic], I've been getting dinged way less than before.

DP:Would you know if an opposing team was trying to do something over the line to knock you out of a game?

BR: Maybe. Sometimes things happen under piles. There's a little extra twisting of the ankles and poking.

DP:When was the last time you felt a team was going after your knees or ankles or head?

BR: When we played San Francisco, I thought there were some things going on ... some extra. I had the ankle [injury], so there was kind of a bull's-eye on that anyway. For the most part, guys play tough. I expect to be tougher than them.

DP:The Steelers took offensive linemen with their first two picks in the draft. Will you haze them?

BR: That's not real smart to haze your linemen. I'll definitely give [first-round pick David] DeCastro a hard time because of the phone call.

DP:Explain the phone call.

BR: I [always] give the first couple of picks—especially if they're offensive guys—a shout. I call [DeCastro]. He answers the phone and says, "Do you have my flight ready yet?" I said, "Do you know who this is?" He said, "No, who?" I was like, "It's Ben Roethlisberger, your quarterback." He was like, "Oh, man, I'm so sorry." He threw a couple of curse words in there. "I just saw a Pittsburgh number. I didn't know."

DP:Congratulations again on graduating.

BR: Most people, after nine years, come out as doctors. Not me.

"I'm glad I got drafted in 2005 when the NFL draft wasn't what it is today. It's such a spectacle. There's a reason those [franchises] are picking at the top: They didn't have great teams last year. The scrutiny on those players is so much more. The pressure level has risen."

—Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers QB, on Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III


Say What?

Thunder guard James Harden, this season's winner of the NBA's Sixth Man Award, hasn't set his sights on joining the Oklahoma City starting five. "As long as we're winning championships," said Harden, "I would love to win the award again." ... Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing talked about why he hasn't been offered a head coaching job after nine years as an assistant: "People pigeonhole me as just a big-man coach. Or [they think] big people can't coach. Typical stereotypes." ... Recently retired Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light thinks the Saints' bounty system was worse than Spygate, and he claims that his former team didn't mean to cross the line: "A guy like Bill [Belichick] would never do anything to disrespect the game. It's been his entire life. [But] he'll be the first to tell you that he will push right up to the edge." ... Bill Romanowski refuted Cris Carter's claim that he once threatened to end the former Vikings wide receiver's career before a game. "If he could read my mind in pregame, maybe he had it right," the ex--Broncos linebacker told me. "But I didn't talk before games. I was in the zone."