Monday, June 12, 2006

Leader of the Pack

Saturday evening, while watching the Pirates win their second game of their current three-game streak and before making my return to the poker and euchre circuit, my father and Dill went on one of their patented, completely data and objective-free arguments, this one based on “Big” Ben Roethlisberger making the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My father argues that Big Ben is some kind of uber-team player, all the while claiming Minnesota didn’t win more games because teammates didn’t want to block or play defense for Daunte Culpepper, and made me promise that if Big Ben made Canton, whenever that may be, I was paying for the trip to watch his induction.

After today’s events in downtown Pittsburgh, Dad probably could have picked a better weekend to throw out his Roethlisberger For Best Teammate Ever argument. Around 11:30 today, apparently having learned nothing from the likes of Jay Williams and Kellen Winslow, Big Ben wrecked his motorcycle – and wasn’t wearing a helmet, which is not against the Pennsylvania state law, but is against all laws of common sense. Despite the urging of Steelers all-timers such as Myron Cope and Terry Bradshaw, the starting quarterback for the defending Super Bowl champ didn’t see the danger in what he was doing.

Apparently, since there’s been no update past the “serious and stable condition” announcement of earlier, Big Ben is going to pull through, although his football career is still in jeopardy. He lost a lot of teeth, lacerated his head pretty badly and suffered damage to both knees, but considering he bounced off the windshield of a car and pavement and apparently suffered no serious head trauma, he got off pretty lucky. His luck is even better when you remember that he helped defeat Seattle in the Super Bowl, probably not endearing himself to one Dr. Derek Shepherd, the finest neurosurgeon in the land.

As tempted as I am to make a photo essay involving Jason from Laguna Beach, Terry Bradshaw, the Duquense girls in the picture, Evel Knievel and Carson Palmer, I am not.

The local news stations have been treating this like it’s the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 rolled into one terribly traumatic event, and the well-wishers are out in force on the Steelers message board, including one idiot who apparently has no idea what the hell karma means. Deadspin commentators, as usual, put a more realistic view on things, basically surmising that “I hope he’s okay, but what the hell was he doing riding a motorcycle without a helmet?”

I hope Big Ben ends up being fine, and as Bobby has predicted, is up and throwing tomorrow because he’s immortal. It’s not fair if he doesn’t end up fully recovering, because now when Culpepper – who looked brilliant in his first mini-camp – rolls into Pittsburgh on September 7th and begins the 2006 season, or The Year We All Realize Super Bowl XL Was A NFL-Induced Fluke, Steeler fans are going to have a prearranged excuse for the beatdown the Dolphins put on them.

At least he got hurt on the football field.

So here’s to Big Ben quickly and fully recovering, even if it is for selfish reasons that I'll admit to, along with the fact you simply wish this upon no one. And for the Steeler fans who want a quick course on karma, take note that this guy probably isn’t too torn up about today’s events.

(As I finished writing this, ESPNews just went through and basically said that while Ben’s face was pretty well messed up, his knees are not severely damaged at all, nor is there serious damage to any organs or his brain. John Clayton feels he’ll be back for the opener. Phear the Phins.)


Looking back on the weekend, if the question is “What could happen to you that is almost as bad as being in a motorcycle accident?”, one answer that would certainly rank high on the Family Feud board would be “Getting into the boxing ring with Tom Zbikowski whilst your trainer wears an Ohio State jersey”. The golden gloves are a beautiful touch, and as the preseason magazines continue to flow onto the shelves, the hype for this college football season, especially in places like Norman, Baton Rouge, Columbus and South Bend, is beginning to reach its fevered pitch.

A link to “Knockout Jesus” – mad props to BGS for that moniker – destroying Robert Bell in 49 seconds is here.

Opposing receivers have to feel a little nervous about going across the middle.

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