"Big Ben, wake up. This is God. That's one; you've got eight more, I suggest you use them wisely… And one more thing, just so you know, I'm keeping you around because I've got the Pittsburgh Steelers repeating as Super Bowl champs this season, and nobody in their right mind wouldn't think the game was fixed if Charlie Batch and Omar Jacobs were under center all the way to Miami. So for the love of Me, how about you wear a friggin' helmet from now on?"
This is the conversation I envision the Big Guy having with Ben Roethlisberger as he lay motionless in the middle of the street Monday morning. How else can you rationalize Ben's brush with the unmentionable?
Seriously, think about how lucky Roethlisberger was -- the guy plays chicken with a Chrysler, sans helmet, and only ends up with some cuts, a broken jaw and summer teeth (you know, some are here, some are there … ba-da-pa!).
Seemingly seconds after Roethlisberger hit the pavement, everybody with a camera and a microphone started the speculation circus. And the great thing about speculation is that you get a whole bunch of crap and not much substance. My favorite medical-diagnosis-from-somebody-who's-unmistakably-not-a-doctor came courtesy of KDKA's John Shumway:
The fact that he did not go through the windshield is a good sign.Thanks Dr. Peter Burns, I'll be sure to write that one down for future reference.
One report had Roethlisberger with serious knee injuries, and now knowing Big Ben's super human recuperative powers, it doesn't surprise me to find out the pavement got the worst of it when Roethlisberger tumbled to the ground after first ricocheting off a car. Okay, maybe the pavement didn't actually lose the battle -- I mean, Joey Porter declared it undefeated -- but in my mind it's at least a draw. Just think how Roethlisberger would've made out if he actually was wearing a helmet.
Of all the possible scenarios, the one that's playing out for Roethlisberger is nothing short of amazing, bordering on the unbelievable. I'm talking "Catherine Zeta Jones won an Oscar?" type incredulity here. Jay Williams ran his bike into a tree and blew up his knee along with his burgeoning basketball career; Kellen Winslow hit a curb while doing his Snake River Canyon reenactment and ended up missing the entire 2005 season. Roethlisberger? Well, he looks like he got punched in the face by Ben Grimm a couple of times, but otherwise he'll reportedly be ready for the regular season.
So other than the fact that Roethlisberger could be healthy when the Dolphins roll into Pittsburgh for the Thursday night season opener, there are some other, less obvious benefits to how things turned out.
First, Pittsburgh doesn't have to entertain thoughts of re-signing Tommy Maddox. Several reports had Maddox's agent Van McElroy – and yes, I'm convinced this is his porn name – calling the Steelers to let them know his client is still available. You know, just in case Maddox entertaining ideas of trying to make a living as a professional golfer wasn't a big enough hint. And even if Roethlisberger were going to miss parts of the 2006 season, Maddox still shouldn't be an option.
For my money, I'd rather the Steelers give Brian Jackson a tryout and see if he has anything left in the tank. And if you don't know who Brian Jackson is, you're not a real Pittsburgh Steelers fan. For the uninitiated, Jackson was the dope who went around impersonating Big Ben in an effort to impress the ladies. Of course, he was an equal opportunity impersonator, also telling one unsuspecting lass he was practice squad all-star, Brian St. Pierre.
(My favorite "I can't believe the cajones on this guy" moment was when he convinced a woman named Mary Groft that he was Big Ben, and showed up at her house to meet the family:
Jackson showed up at Groft's house July 6, when he presented her with an autographed football, posed with neighbor Larry West for a picture, and then signed West's football jersey, the affidavit said.The best part? According to the story, authorities charged Jackson with criminal mischief for ruining the $75 jersey with a fake autograph. In my mind, that alone should get him a tryout with the team. Honestly, who needs Tommy Maddox when you've got Brian Jackson?)
Another benefit – and one that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else – is that while Roethlisberger was undergoing his seven-hour surgery for various facial fractures, he also went ahead with the Hair Club for Men procedure to combat his inevitable struggle with male pattern baldness. So don't be surprised if the next time you see Roethlisberger he looks like David Hasselhoff.
Okay, I may be stretching the truth just a bit here. But instead of piling on Big Ben for, shall we say, being a tad myopic in his decision making, I instead chose to just poke fun at the whole situation, especially since it looks like everything should be back to normal by September. And yes, that's how I deal with adversity: first denial, then mockery.
You'd have to assume that Roethlisberger's motorcycle riding days are over, but who knows. And if they're not, this might be an option – and one that seems to be more effective than just wearing a helmet. Just something to think about.