Questions Raised About Roethlisberger's Lack Of Helmet In Crash - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/13/06-East Texas

Questions Raised About Roethlisberger's Lack Of Helmet In Crash

  In February, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl title, and he did so, wearing a football helmet. But, as he told ESPN last summer, wearing a motorcycle helmet is a different story.

"If it was the law (in Pennsylvania), I'd definitely have one on every time I rode," said Roethlisberger, "but it's not the law, so I know I don't have to. You're just more free when you're out there and there's no helmet on."

That attitude nearly cost him his life yesterday, when his head smashed into a car in the middle of a busy Pittsburgh intersection.  It took four surgeons, seven hours to repair multiple head injuries. Roethlisberger had been warned multiple times about his helmet wearing, or lack thereof, not only by Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, but by Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw, who didn't want him to ride the motorcycle at all.

"You better park that sucker," Bradshaw warned last year.  "You got a 14 year career, maybe you can get some more out of that. Park it. When you retire, you'll be in your 30's. If you want to ride and be stupid, ride. But, good God, put that thing up."

KLTV 7's NFL analyst Eric Williams, himself a former NFL player and Harley owner, agrees.

"I don't care if he had the license from the president of the United States and he had the helmet the size of Fort Knox," said Williams, "he shouldn't be on a motorcycle.  He's got to realize that a lot of people are depending on him, not only his teammates, but the city of Pittsburgh is looking up to Big Ben and saying, you can't get hurt."

Roethlisberger was riding a 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa, considered by Broadway Suzuki sales manager Jody North to be the world's fastest production motorcycle. But North says riding the motorcycle wasn't the problem; it was how he rode it.

"It doesn't matter whether you are going the 200 miles per hour speed that this bike is capable of, or whether you are going 20 miles per hour," said North.  "If you fall over and hit your head, you can do some serious damage.  He should have been wearing a helmet."

Thankfully, Roethlisberger doesn't appear to have any permanent damage.  He could be released from the hospital by the end of the week, and could resume playing football by this fall. But, the question remains, has he learned his lesson?

Kevin Berns reporting. 

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