Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Might want to sell those bikes, Ben

My initial thought when I heard about Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident yesterday was "Why the hell do athletes ride motorcycles?"

Visions of Jay Williams, Jeff Kent (um, allegedly), and Kellen Winslow filled my mind. And two of those three have likely cost themselves dearly, in terms of their careers. Granted, that's a tiny percentage of the pro athlete population. But how many examples does a guy need before thinking, "Hey, I could cost myself a lot of money by getting on this thing. Is it worth millions of dollars to ride my bike?"

There's a lot of different ways to go with this, especially when it comes to freedom of expression and choice. If a guy chooses to ride a motorcycle, if that's a hobby and lifestyle he enjoys, then he should be able to do that. And though it seems ludicrous to me not to wear one, if someone prefers to go without a helmet, despite the inherent and obvious risks, then maybe a law shouldn't make it necessary. On the other hand, maybe the government should force common sense on a person, for his or her own good. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it, because this isn't something that would apply to me.

But when you read that Roethlisberger's head hit both a windshield and the pavement, you have to think wearing a helmet would've mattered significantly. Eyewitness accounts of the scene seem to indicate that Roethlisberger wasn't at fault. Someone tried to turn left without yielding to oncoming traffic, and seconds later, Big Ben was flying over his handlebars. Which situation did he have control over?

Should sports teams tell their players they can't engage in this type of behavior? If I were a general manager or owner of a franchise, I'd say "Hell, yes!" And if the athlete said I had no right to tell him how to live his life, I'd ask my legion of assistants to bring his contract to my desk, and ask him, "Oh yeah? How much am I paying you again, Norma Rae?" (I hope I'd also have a clause in the contract that my lawyers could immediately point to. And then I'd have someone fetch me a martini and a sandwich.)

It's not like I'd be telling the guy who he can or can't date. I wouldn't be telling him he should call his mother every day. Or visit childrens' hospitals. But wouldn't I be entitled to make sure I get the most for my multi-million dollar investment? That's not outrageous, is it?

But after seven hours of surgery to repair facial fractures, and who knows how many subsequent procedures to fix whatever other damage he suffered (sounds like he needs a lot of new teeth, for one thing), maybe Roethlisberger's already thinking about this stuff, and standing over him, wagging an "I told you so" finger, is essentially kicking the man while he's down. (Another kick? Well, pointing out that Roethlisberger didn't have a Pennsylvania motorcycle license might qualify.)

One would hope he'd realize just how stinkin' lucky he is 1) to still be alive, and 2) that his injuries reportedly aren't career-threatening.

▪▪ Has Tommy Maddox already sewn up the Sports Asshole of the Year award?
Representatives for Tommy Maddox called the Steelers to see if they would have any interest in re-signing their former quarterback. This offseason, Maddox has worked out for the Saints, Raiders, Dolphins and Texans. Maddox wants to play -- not at the expense of Ben Roethlisberger -- but he would like work. Perhaps this will give him a chance.

The report doesn't indicate if Maddox's representatives called the Steelers shortly after Roethlisberger's accident. But if they did, what a sensitive move - in the best interests of their client, of course.

(Photo by Steve Mellon/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


  • At June 13, 2006 2:16 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    You gonna bid for Ben's helmet on eBay?

    Click here

  • At June 13, 2006 2:40 PM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    That ebay thing is hilarious... in a sick and twisted way!

    Hey, at least you didn't get called a fat and useless slob on your blog by an anonymous commentor! Man, I hate that anonymous crap!

    Anyway, as far as the legislation aspect goes, I always go back and forth on it as well. Should there be laws to force me into something that should be a personal choice? But, then again, it clearly saves lives, just like seat belts, so who really knows.

    I have no problem with there being clauses in contracts to keep million dollar investments from this and that is what these athletes are... million dollar investments. I think Bradshaw said it best when he said "do it after you retire"... damn, these guys will retire in their mid to late 30's, they are still young enough to enjoy quality years on a bike then!

  • At June 13, 2006 5:51 PM, Blogger Greg Eno said…

    He needs to take riding lessons from Marty Mornhinweg! Remember THAT motorcycle debacle? That was a symbolic "crash."

    Mickey Lolich was another bike rider extraordinaire. But he wore a helmet; baseball players were always smarter than footballers.

  • At June 13, 2006 6:31 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    The thing is -- and understand that I think guys like Roethlisberger and Winslow are morons -- the same qualities that make someone the kind of guy who has the balls to lead his team to a Super Bowl when he's in his early 20s are the same qualities that make him demented enough to think this was a good idea.

    I'm not a shrink, but it seems to me that some people have a personality and disposition that requires living on the edge and tempting fate and being a bit cocky and so on... And if they're not doing that, they're acting counter to who they are. ANYTIME that happens, people end up in a bad place and often get stuck inside their own heads.

    Not that this is a good thing, but this MIGHT be the kind of thing, if he makes it out OK, that helps him understand why he needs to be a bit different in the future.

  • At June 14, 2006 10:59 AM, Anonymous K-Dog said…

    I came up with an algebraic equation to help Ben figure this out. Now, I'm no mathematician, but here's my theory:


    Pigskin + Tackling = Helmet


    Motorcycle + Traffic / High Speeds = Helmet

    Doesn't that seem about right?

  • At June 14, 2006 12:27 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At June 14, 2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Evan, that same thought occurred to me about personality types. Some people just have to be out there on the edge and push things. And when they're not getting the high that comes with playing, they need to find it someplace else. Crazy, but it at least partially explains Roethlisberger's motivations.

    I just read that he might be recovered in time for the Steelers' first game. Sweet Jesus, this guy is luckier than Kevin Federline.

    You live a damn tootin' charmed life, pal.

  • At June 14, 2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous K-Dog said…

    Oohhhh! What was deleted?? Juicy!!

  • At June 14, 2006 1:08 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Nothing juicy, I'm afraid.

    I had that last sentence typed as "You lived a damn tootin' charmed life, pal." Thought the past tense might be in bad taste. Not to mention incorrect.


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