Quietly, and outside the media’s eyes, Roethlisberger began changing. In his only public comments after the rape allegations, and in an echo of his 2005 Super Bowl interview, he said he understood that his words were meaningless. He would have to prove that he had changed. He would have to restore his name and reputation with a new life of right action.

By the middle of 2010, he began returning to the evangelical culture of his youth — listening again to Christian artists he liked as a kid, reaching out to leaders for spiritual guidance. He joined Christ Church at Grove Farm, an evangelical church in suburban Pittsburgh. He mingled with parishioners. He dumped his entourage. His family moved in from Ohio and held him accountable for his surname. Last summer, he quietly married Ashley Harlan, who comes from a Pittsburgh family that a local pastor declared to be “one of the finest Christian families I’ve ever met in my life.”…

Tebow is a missionary. Roethlisberger is a prodigal son come home. Both men have found ways of living their faith — of being Christian pilgrims — that reveal more about evangelicalism than whatever can be gleaned from Iowa exit polls. As they take the field Sunday, anyone wanting to know what makes evangelicals tick would be wise to pay attention.