The Owl: Dumb and Dumber

Our feathered friend ponders the decision-making of professional athletes, particularly in light of Ben Roethlisberger's accident earlier in the week. More independent and honest commentary from the OBR's crew of columnists...


One night 12 years ago I was on my way to a church meeting that was to begin at 7:30 p.m.

The traffic light at the intersection about a half mile from the church switched to yellow. I glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard: 7:27.

The car in front of was driven through the intersection, so, following my motto "If he's through, I'm through," I gunned the accelerator.

The cop hiding behind the back of the Shell station had a better view of the intersection than I did of the cop, mainly because I was concentrating on the bumper of the car in front of me. That is until Dudley Dooright nosed out of his hiding spot and turned on his flashers.

I said a quick prayer as the policeman walked to my car with his ticket pad in his left hand and a pencil in his right hand. I got the idea God wasn't going to answer this one in the affirmative.

I thought about rolling down my window, smiling, and saying, "I'll have a cheeseburger, side of fries and a chocolate shake," but thought better of it when I sensed the cop was not in a good mood.

Anyway, we had this brief debate about the color of the light when I was in the intersection and he won. I ended up 15 minutes late to the meeting and it cost me $110 to learn yellow means hit the brakes and not the gas if you are not in the intersection. Since then - well, most of the time - I brake and wait for the light to cycle to green again.

This brings us to Kellen Winslow Jr. and Ben Roethlisberger. Learning my lesson left me with a thinner wallet, but that's about it.

Winslow and Roethlisberger could star in a remake of Dumb and Dumber. Winslow gets to be Dumb, because he was doing wheelies and other tricks on a motorcycle he barely knew how to drive. But at least he was smart enough to wear a helmet. His crash on May 1 of last year might have been worse than it was if he hadn't been wearing a helmet.

Roethlisberger gets to be dumber in the movie. After knowing what happened to Winslow (and others) he boasted about not wearing a helmet (This, by the way, brings up another point. Why does an automobile driver have to "click it or ticket" regarding a seat belt, yet a helmet is optional for a motorcycle driver?).

I will never understand how wind in one's hair offsets bugs dying on one's teeth, but that could be because I'm a chicken when it comes to dangerous vehicles such as cycles, roller coasters and a golf cart driven by my teenage son.

It does not matter that Roethlisberger's accident was not his fault. He has a broken jaw because he was too stubborn to wear a helmet. It could have been so much worse.

By most accounts, Roethlisberger will recover in time to play once the season starts. Too bad for the Browns Gerard Warren isn't still around to utter "Kill the head and the body's dead."

No one should wish for Roethlisberger's injury to ruin him for life, but I wouldn't complain if an overzealous defender took him out with a crack to the chin before the Browns play the Steelers in November.

The fact Roethlisberger will recover, and relatively quickly, makes you wonder if he'll go helmetless again the next time he rides. This might make him think he's even more invincible than he did before, even if his immediate reaction is to never go without a helmet again.

When Winslow recovered from his wipeout enough to issue a statement through the Browns, he did not say it was a mistake to be doing those crazy tricks. He said the mistake was doing the tricks before he had proper training.

Only time will tell if Winslow and Roethlisberger learned their lessons. I learned mine, and I still have all my teeth.

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