Roethlisberger accident a cautionary tale

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick is always searching for cautionary tales to ward his football team away from trouble. There's no more glaring recent example for Billick to point out to his players than Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's serious motorcycle accident that caused severe facial injuries.

"You hate for that to be a tragic reminder," Billick said. "You have to be vigilant. Beyond the moral and ethical responsibility to do the right thing, you have to respect the obligation you have to your profession, to your team.

"We would love to, but you can't wrap these guys up in cellophane and put them on ice between seasons and practices. You have to live life, but you have to not put yourself at risk."

A cursory Internet search invariably provides Billick with plenty of material to warn his players in terms of situations they should avoid. Riding a motorcycle in general, not to mention without a helmet, is a fairly obvious one.

"If there's an example of something I can put up in front of my team to say, ‘Look, let's learn from this, not personally, but learn from it vicariously,'" Billick said, "if it gets one guy to pause and hesitate before he does something that's ill-advised, then it's worth it."

Ravens quarterback Steve McNair described what happened to Roethlisberger as an unfortunate circumstance.

Roethlisberger, who wasn't wearing a helmet, suffered a broken jaw, a mild concussion, a significant gash on the back of his head and lost several teeth. He's expected to play this season, according to published reports.

"If he had a helmet on, would he have gotten messed up? Who could say that, but it's a sad situation in Pittsburgh right now," McNair said. "We all have a responsibility to our families and the organizations we play for. It's up to every individual to live up to that."

NOTES: Linebacker Ray Lewis (hamstring), center Mike Flynn (knee), wide receiver Mark Clayton (hamstring) and receiver Clarence Moore (hernia) didn't practice. Clayton was held out as a precautionary measure. "It's just that pesky hamstring," Billick said. "We're going to make him start renting his uniform if he's not out here more. We need to be real prudent with it." ... Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas didn't attend the voluntary workout for personal reasons. … Safety Ed Reed was at practice after missing a few days of work last week. Billick said that Reed's lack of participation in team drills last week wasn't contract-related. Reed is entering the final season of his original rookie contract and the two sides are far apart in negotiations. ... Rookie quarterback Drew Olson returned to workouts after completing his final exam schedule at UCLA. … Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and wide receiver Demetrius Williams aren't allowed to attend this final minicamp due to Oregon's graduation schedule.

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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