Roethlisberger Contrite, Says He's Lucky

The Associated Press
Friday, June 16, 2006; 5:08 AM

PITTSBURGH -- A contrite Ben Roethlisberger pledged to wear a helmet if he rides a motorcycle again. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is also eager to get back on the field and start winning games once he recovers from facial injuries suffered in a scary wreck earlier this week.

In his first comments since crashing his motorcycle and undergoing seven hours of surgery, Roethlisberger released a statement through the team Thursday in which he apologized to the Steelers, fans and his family, and said he was lucky to have survived.

"In the past few days, I've gained a new perspective on life," the Super Bowl-winning quarterback said in a statement released just hours after he was discharged from a hospital. "By the grace of God, I'm fortunate to be alive ... "

The 24-year-old Roethlisberger wrecked his bike and cracked his head on a car windshield Monday. He was discharged from Mercy Hospital late Wednesday night.

The youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl was not wearing a helmet when he crashed into a car that was turning left in front of his motorcycle. Pennsylvania's mandatory helmet law was repealed in 2003.

But Roethlisberger said in the statement that if he ever rides a motorcycle again "it certainly will be with a helmet."

Doctors have said two rounds of tests showed no brain injuries, although there was a mild concussion. Doctors used small titanium plates and screws to reassemble Roethlisberger's broken jaws and repaired other broken facial bones. He also lost two teeth and chipped several others, doctors said.

In the statement, Roethlisberger said he realizes he has a responsibility to safeguard his health in the offseason so he can continue to lead the team.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, citing confidentiality laws, has refused to confirm media reports that Roethlisberger does not have a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license.

Roethlisberger appeared to address those reports in his statement.

"I never meant any harm to others nor to break any laws," Roethlisberger said. "I was confident in my ability to ride a motorcycle and simply believed such an accident would not happen to me."

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said those criticizing Roethlisberger for not wearing a helmet should back off.

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