View Full Version : Resilient Roethlisberger

07-15-2006, 03:34 AM
By Mike Prisuta
Friday, July 14, 2006

Ben Roethlisberger insisted Thursday his brush with death won't affect his readiness or willingness to play the style of game that's helped the Steelers achieve a 27-4 record and win a Super Bowl with him starting at quarterback the past two seasons.
"People ask me if it's going to change the way I play, am I going to be more cautious?" Roethlisberger said. "No, that's not who I am.

"I'm not going to slide instead of dive. I'm not going to step out of bounds, instead of trying to get that extra yard. I have every intention of getting out there and playing to the fullest of my ability and still being that free spirit that makes me who I am.

"I'm going to try to be better than I ever was."

Speaking four weeks and three days after a motorcycle accident landed him on an operating table for seven hours -- coming within "seconds, maybe a minute" of losing his life -- Roethlisberger maintained he'd be ready for some football when training camp opens July 28 in Latrobe.

The Steelers open their defense of the 2005 NFL championship against Miami on Sept. 7 at Heinz Field.

"I'll tell you what, I have every intention of being ready to go on both of those dates," Roethlisberger said during a telephone interview. "That's my goal, to be ready to go 100 percent."

Roethlisberger sustained a broken jaw and other facial bones in a motorcycle accident June 12.

Speaking to ESPN's Jim Rome in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Roethlisberger said paramedics told him he was "literally seconds, maybe a minute away from dying, because I slit a vein or artery in my mouth or my throat, and it was draining blood right into my stomach."

Roethlisberger was in Lake Tahoe, Nev., yesterday for the Pro-Am for the American Century Championship. He will participate in the celebrity golf tournament today, as planned prior to his accident.

"I've lost weight, so maybe I'll be faster, maybe I'll be quicker," Roethlisberger said.

As for other potential long-term effects from his accident, "Maybe it's going to make people doubt me and put more fire in me," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger, listed at 241 pounds by the Steelers a season ago, had acknowledged a desire to lose weight heading into this season.

He observed yesterday that his accident and subsequent hospital stint allowed him to achieve that goal faster than anticipated.

He reported his current weight at 235 pounds and said he'd like to play this season at 235 or 240.

"It's a bad way, unfortunately, to lose the weight I needed to lose. But, hey, we're down now, and I'm lifting (weights) and getting stronger," Roethlisberger said. "I think it's going to be better in the long run."

Roethlisberger admittedly experienced some trying times during his convalescence -- soul-searching and second-guessing himself for riding his Suzuki Hayabusa without a helmet haven't been a part of that process, though.

"I have never sat down and said, 'I can't believe this happened to me, why me? What if this? What if that? If this was different, that would have happened,'" Roethlisberger said. "That's not me.

"I've sat down and talked with my family and said, 'Wow, can you believe that happened?' We say things like 'wow' and 'that's amazing' and 'we are truly blessed to be alive with what happened.' But I'm never going to sit there and question or second-guess anything that happened or say 'what if?' Because I can't control that."

Roethlisberger perceived his presence at Edgewood Tahoe Country Club yesterday as evidence he's on the verge of completing his recovery.

"It was either that or me throwing the football around the other day," he said. "Both of them are pretty good signs.

"I've been throwing for the last couple of weeks, throwing and working out and running. I'm feeling better every day."

The Steelers haven't commented publicly on Roethlisberger's status or how they intend to use him in training camp and preseason games.

Roethlisberger anticipates the coaching staff will take a cautious approach.

"No one really knows yet," he said. "They kind of want to see how things are going to go, but I want to tell them I'm ready to go for them."

Wearing a different football helmet has been discussed, Roethlisberger said, based on "what fits the best and what's the best protection, but I don't see that being a big issue."

Roethlisberger also suspects he suffered a concussion in the accident, but he doesn't know for certain.

"I would assume I did, but I don't foresee that causing any problems in the long run or making it any tougher," he said. "I've had concussions before. I don't know how many, but I don't foresee it being a problem."

As for NFL defenses potentially going after him with more fervor because of his injuries, "You never know, but I have the best offensive line in football," Roethlisberger said. "I have confidence in them."

Steelers coach Bill Cowher had warned Roethlisberger of the dangers of motorcycle riding prior to the accident, and he had urged his quarterback to wear a helmet if he remained determined to ride.

Roethlisberger said he hadn't begun to contemplate whether he would ride again -- he's vowed to wear a helmet in the event he does -- but he didn't anticipate Cowher, Steelers chairman Dan Rooney or Steelers president Art Rooney II forbidding him to do so.

"Obviously, that's their call, but I don't foresee any of that coming about," Roethlisberger said. "I think I truly am blessed to be playing for an awesome coach and awesome owners, because they have been nothing but supportive of me the whole time. They've really just wanted me to get better.

"I'm just so thankful for the support I've gotten for them."

Support from those closest to him helped him through the toughest of times, Roethlisberger said, "Not necessarily their words of wisdom as much as just being there if I needed somebody to talk to.

"No one's really given me advice on how to get through it," he said. "They know I'm a strong person. But my family and friends and teammates, just having their support has been unbelievable."

He also had a message for Steelers fans.

"Thank them for all their support and their cards and letters that got me through those tough nights with my mom, trying to figure out if I was going to be able to fall asleep or not," Roethlisberger said. "I apologize to all of them, obviously, and I think I'm beyond apologies now.

"I just want everybody to know that, yes, I'm sorry. But I'm going to be OK. They can count on me.

07-15-2006, 06:13 AM
I think his style will change a bit anyway. He will not take on as many would be tacklers, only because he is maturing, not because of the accident. Eventually you realize that a slide here or there, and a step out of bounds will lengthen your career.

07-15-2006, 10:07 AM
I think his style will change a bit anyway. He will not take on as many would be tacklers, only because he is maturing, not because of the accident. Eventually you realize that a slide here or there, and a step out of bounds will lengthen your career.

Yep. He's still a young gun slinger, but as he matures, things will change a bit. Not necessarily a bad thing.