Roethlisberger Accident Hits Home

The Minnesota Vikings don't appear ready to be proactive on banning motorcycles or warning their players in light of the Ben Roethlisberger accident last Monday morning, but the topic has been talked about and it hits home especially with long-time followers of the team.

The recent health scares with Ben Roethlisberger and Kellen Winslow following dangerous motorcycle accidents has brought the practice of riding bikes into focus around the NFL. The Vikings even addressed the topic following a practice last week.

"We don't have a policy but I think if you go up and look in that lot I don't believe you'll see a motorcycle up there, not that I don't know that they don't own motorcycles." Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "I think that that's probably a pretty big eye-opener for those guys. I know Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid, some of those guys have those. I don't think they ride sans helmet, but you know I am not concerned about that. Accidents are tough, and you hate to have something happen to a good person and a good player like that. "

Many teams are already looking into the potential implication with the players union if they make activities like riding motorcycles forbidden when players are signed to contracts.

Childress said the Vikings aren't that concerned with forcing the issue.

"At a point as they leave here I am sure I'll have something to say, and maybe not specifically about that, but that's why they call them accidents and you have to be vigilant," Childress said. "You only get to play this game so long and you want to play as long as you can."

The Roethlisberger scare has sent ripples throughout the league, but if the NFL really wants to make the point it players, all it needs to do is put Karl Kassulke on the payroll to talk to players.

One of the most beloved Vikings from the "40-for-60" NFL championship team, Kassulke was a free spirit who enjoyed the good things in life – including riding a motorcycle. But shortly before training camp opened in 1973, Kassulke got in an accident on his motorcycle that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

His injury ripped at the hearts of fans, his teammates and even stoic head coach Bud Grant, who was said to be in tears when he first addressed the team about Kassulke and when he made his first appearance at Metropolitan Stadium following the accident. For all the promise of his career – he was in his 11th season but still showing little signs of losing his edge – it all ended in an instant.

For his part, Kassulke remained upbeat about the bad blow he was dealt. He didn't get suicidal or remorseful. He accepted his injury as part of life and has found a way to move on and continue his life confined to a wheelchair.

For fans of Roethlisberger and the Steelers, his release from the hospital with no major brain or structural damage to his body should be seen as something close to a miracle. It could have turned out much worse. Just ask Karl Kassulke what could have happened.

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