When Will They Ever Learn?

camp, there will be another one of his mind-vitamin signs posted in the locker room area about the dangers of motorized bikes, you know, kind of in the same vein as this one: 

Tobacco, Alcohol, Gambling, Sex Clubs, Night Clubs, Pain Killers, Steroids, Street Drugs - "A Line-up for Destruction." 

Of course, the Cowboys haven't had a free ride in this accident area. No one will soon forget Erik Williams' single-car crash at 635 and the North Dallas Tollway that ended his 1994 season, and really, ended his career as a dominant NFL offensive tackle. He was just another tackle after that. And there was Dwayne Goodrich's unfortunate mishap that killed two people on I-35 in 2003, driving so fast he couldn't avoid an accident scene. Worse, he never stopped. Not only will he never play football again, he's serving time in prison on two counts of manslaughter. 

Those guys have paid - are paying - a high price. Hopefully they learned - are learning - a lesson. 

That, too, must be the sentiment in the Pittsburgh organization today. That the not-as-hard-headed-as-he-thought-he-was Roethlisberger learned something about the dangers of riding a motorcycle - and riding one without a helmet, even if it's legal to do so in Pennsylvania.  

Worst part is, he had been warned. The head coach had warned him. Former players had warned him. In fact, check this out. A former college acquaintance of mine, Chuck Finder, wrote this in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazetteon June 12, 2005, eerily one year to the day before Roethlisberger's accident: 

*Two local motorcyclists have been killed in the past month roaring down the same stretch of Route 28 that a certain Steelers quarterback navigates on his Harley-Davidson Softail, his hair flitting in the wind.  *

*Hulloh, Ben Roethlisberger?  *

Anyone home in that helmet-free head? 

Finder didn't stop there. He got in touch with Henderson, who was injured that severely wearing a helmet. Henderson had this to say: "I just wish people would put their bikes up and wait till after their career. Then they can ride the rest of their lives. Bikes are dangerous. All of us who ride bikes know that. You only have two wheels. Shoot, all it takes is one driver not paying attention. It's not like a car crash - you ain't going to have a fender bender." 

He would go on to say this in direct reference to Big Ben: "He's making that much money, doing big things right now, I don't see why he wants to jeopardize that. He's got a lot of people looking up to him right now. Whether he likes it or not, that's the way it is. And if he had an accident . . . . 

"I don't get on that bike anymore, man. When I went back to New York for a visit after my accident, a lot of the Jets guys told me, 'I got rid of my bike.' I'm glad I could be an example. But I hate it, too." 

Henderson is paying a dear price. Roethlisberger will be lucky if the worst injury he sustained was the broken jaw and nose, which will require at least seven weeks to heal after undergoing seven hours of surgery to repair all the facial fractures. The season opener is 13 weeks away, and he's expected to be ready, but probably not for the first preseason game Aug. 12. 

The reported nine-inch laceration to the back of his head, lost or chipped teeth and scrapes to his knees from slamming hard to the pavement must seem minor to compared to what might have happened. 

Compared to what did happen to Exhibits A, B and C. 

Doctors say his brain, spine, chest and abdomen appear to be fine. That all seems like a major upset, especially had you been there on Second Avenue at the 10th Street Bridge, as was Sandra Ford, who told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I ran to the scene and he was lying on his back and wasn't moving. I thought he was dead." 

Mercy me, how fortunate only Roethlisberger's Bulletproof Years expired on this day. 

Right Big Ben?   

MICK SHOTS

 
  Deciding to release Tommy Maddox this off-season, Pittsburgh's only experienced backup to Roethlisberger at this point is

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