Monday, June 12, 2006

It's Official: Big Ben is an Idiot.

I know it's unusual for a native Pittsburgher, but I pay little or no attention to local sports. But even with that level of inattentiveness I was able to hear some of the row over the past year about Steeler quarterback Ben Rothilsberger's refusal to wear a helmet when riding his motorcycle. I'm sure he used all the tired old augments that lobbyists used to get Pennsylvania's helmet laws repealed; "It's a matter of choice", "I drive safely", "I'm not taking risks."

I remember my Grandfather. As he got older, he wasn't able to drive himself anymore so I became his chauffeur. Trying to get him to wear a seatbelt was a major challenge.

"Drive so that I don't have to wear a seatbelt."

I always wanted to yell at him. It doesn't matter how safely I try to drive, if some other asshat on the road does something stupid, without a seatbelt you're going to be kissing the windshield. THAT'S why you wear one. Of course, my Grandfather accused me of being an "unsophisticated driver" because I drove with one foot for brake and accelerator rather than with one foot on the brake and the other for the gas.

Ben Rothilsberger made the same sort of arrogant mistake by deluding himself into believing that his safety on the road was entirely in his own hands. Some pinhead turned in front of him and he was unable to stop in time. BANG, into the car, richocheting his face off the windshield and then onto the concrete. According to news reports, he busted his jaw. If that's all the damage he sustained then he is incredibly lucky. But his survival still doesn't make him any less stupid.

It may be a matter of choice but it was an astronomically bad choice. A choice that he was repeatedly warned about in advance.

I ride a bicycle so I never get up to the highway speeds that motorcycle riders achieve but I still wear a helmet because I know that hitting the pavement at even a mild 10-15 mph can lead to a concussion. I've been forced off the road, sideswiped, broadside and any number of other road mishaps when I was obeying the traffic laws and riding as safely as I could. That attentiveness to safety still did not protect me from all the morons out there who believe that roads are only for them. Last year, I found myself taking off my helmet to rid the trail because I was getting uncomfortably hot. I realized the risk I was taking and spent nearly $200 to get a better ventilated helmet so that I could ride safe and cool.

I hate to say we told you so but, Ben, we did. Your coach told you. Your esteemed predecessor Terry Bradshaw (who knows a thing or two about football) told you. The doctors told you. The editorials in the paper told you. But you didn't listen. You listened to your own arrogance and illusions of immortality and now you're paying the price. If you had worn a helmet, you might have been able to walk away from that accident. Instead, you're going to spend the next 7 weeks healing a broken jaw. Was your machismo worth it? Have you learned anything at all from this?


Mikey said...

in all fairness, what 24 year old hasn't done something this stupid at least once? at that age we all feel "invincible", I know I did, and got into more than my share of 80 mph car races with no seatbelt on. you might have even been in on a couple of those Gies :-)

and i did that without having an entire city worshipping at my feet to make me feel even more godlike.

doesn't excuse the stupidy, but it does help explain it.

Der Geis said...

Oh, and to add to Rothilsberger's stupidity. . . he was driving without a license. His learner's permit had expired months ago.

So, whether or not he starts wearing a helmet after he gets out of the hospital becomes a moot point because the state is not likely to issue him a license. Certainly he'll have to re-apply for his learner's permit and start all over.

Maybe he'll lear something this time around.

Nah. Probably not.

And, no, I did not participate in any of those 80mph car races.