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Ben Roethlisberger had an early birthday dinner with Jim Kelly and Merril Hoge

(Screenshot via Jim Kelly's Instagram)

Other than going on a hunting podcast, Ben Roethlisberger has stayed out of the limelight since retiring last month. This is to be expected, as Roethlisberger said he wasn't going to be in the public eye much once he called it a career.

However, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly shared a photo on Instagram yesterday of himself, Roethlisberger and Merril Hoge having dinner in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

"A birthday surprise for Big Ben in the “Burg” with the boys!" Kelly wrote. "Awesome night with such great people. HAPPY early BIRTHDAY Ben! LOVE Ya Bud!"

Roethlisberger turns 40 years old on March 2.

Hoge commented on Kelly's post, "Two of the great people on this planet. What a great night with dear friends!!"

Kelly and Hoge are two of Roethlisberger's closest friends. Roethlisberger's youngest son, Bodie, middle name is Hunter, which is named after Kelly's late son, who passed away in 2005 at eight years old after a battle with Krabbe’s disease. Roethlisberger reached out to Kelly for his blessing and Kelly was touched and honored by the gesture.

Roethlisberger and Kelly regularly hunt together. They even went on a hunting trip to New Zealand in 2017. They also often ride snowmobiles together at Kelly's house in Western New York.

Roethlisberger also has a close bond with Hoge that involves faith and hunting. Hoge and Roethlisberger plan on going elk hunting in New Mexico this year.

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