Ben Roethlisberger, the new Super Bowl Steelers quarterback who was the target of the old Super Bowl Steelers quarterback’s advice, didn’t heed it. Nor did he learn from the experiences of Jay Williams, Kellen Winslow Jr. (I hope his dad doesn’t yell at me for saying that), Jerome Mathis, Dario Franchitti, Hermann Maier, Tony Twist, Robertas Javtokas, Ron Gant, Robin Yount or Jeff Kent (under the euphemism “washing my truck”), or other athletes who wiped out or hindered their careers because of motorcycle accidents.
Anybody takes a risk hopping on a motorcycle, just like anybody takes a risk crossing a busy street or getting on a carnival ride. But for athletes, the evidence is clear that motorcycling — especially without a helmet, without experience, or both — is a risk not worth taking. It’s too easy, assuming you don’t lose your life, to lose big money and your career as an accident takes you from physical specimen to physical wreck. Simple physics dictates that for any rider, experienced or not, is that if you do crash, whatever you crashed into wins. Big.
Does that stop these guys from riding? No. Will it stop athletes from riding in the future? Not likely.
Roethlisberger isn’t even the first NFL player this offseason who needed to put his hand on the burner to learn that a lit stove is hot. Mathis, a Pro Bowl kick returner with Houston, suffered arm and hand injuries in a motorcycle crash in March. But he’s fortunate — those injuries are expected to heal by the start of the season. (Alas, for Mathis a lingering foot injury from last season will keep him out until October.)
Roethlisberger certainly knew about Winslow’s situation with the Cleveland Browns, given the many reporters who asked Roethlisberger about his own helmet-free riding — and coach Bill Cowher's open disdain for it — in the wake of the tight end’s showboating wreck that ripped up his knee ligaments, ending his 2005 season before it began. Winslow’s Hall-of-Fame tight-end father can get mad at the media all he wants for its supposedly overblown coverage, but the Browns are still trying to find a way to void at least some share of bonus money they paid to his son, even as it looks like he might be healthy enough to play in 2006. Yes, Mr. Winslow, 21-year-olds make mistakes. But most don’t cost them millions of dollars.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
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