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Monday, June 12, 2006
An Expensive Accident

I hope Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, seriously injured today while riding his motorcycle without a helmet, is okay. Although I must say, what an idiot.

Last year, when Cleveland Brown Kellen Winslow was injured in a motorcycle crash, it was widely believed that he'd forfeited his bonus money under the NFL Standard Player Contract "other activities" clause. That clause bars players from engaging in activities other than football "which may involve a significant risk of personal injury". It will be interesting to see whether, if the injuries cost Roesthlisberger significant playing time or even end his career, the Steelers will be as generous as the Chicago Bulls were when they honored a year of Jay Williams' contract even though that player's motorcycle-riding breached the equivalent NBA contract provision. What may set Roethlisberger apart? On the one hand, unlike Winslow and Williams, Ben wasn't wearing a helmet, which is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette after putting six slugs in your revolver. On the other hand, unlike Williams and Winslow, Ben has led a (pro) team to a championship.

I bet Roethlisberger wants to eat these words, from May 2005:
Roethlisberger explained that he does not consider the way he rides his Harley sans helmet as taking much risk.

"It's one of those things, where he talked about being a risk-taker and I'm not really a risk-taker, I'm pretty conservative and laid back," Roethlisberger said. "So the big thing is just be careful and that's what we do. I think every person that rides is careful. That's the biggest thing, I'll just continue to be careful. I told him we never ride alone we always ride in a group of people, and I think that makes it more safe."

Update (June 15, 10:19 pm): Out of the hospital, Ben is all apologies.


Terry Bradshaw: "Ride it when you're retired."

Anonymous Jeff -- 6/12/2006 2:37 PM  

I have read that his contract only forbade motorcycle riding during the season. I'm not sure if that's true or not but it would have an impact on the repercussions from his idiotic decision.

Blogger The Fan's Attic -- 6/12/2006 5:06 PM  

Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a perfect example of survival of the fittest. And no, it most certainly should not be legislated.

Blogger Caroline -- 6/12/2006 6:46 PM  

There shouls definately have been a clause in his contract that would not allow him to ride motorcycles.
If teams can put clause in contracts for players not ot play pick up games of basketball (aaron boone) then this certainly can be included.

Anonymous tommie -- 6/12/2006 8:28 PM  

Here's the full language of the general "Other Activities Clause" in the NFL standard player contract:

"3. OTHER ACTIVITIES. Without prior written consent of the Club, Player will not play football or engage in activities related to football otherwise than for Club or engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury. Player represents that he has special, exceptional and unique knowledge, skill, ability, and experience as a football player, the loss of which cannot be estimated with any certainty and cannot be fairly or adequately compensated by damages. Player therefore agrees that Club will have the right, in addition to any other right which Club may possess, to enjoin Player by appropriate proceedings from playing football or engaging in football-related activities other than for Club or from engaging in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury."

There may also be a seperate clause (fan's attic suggests there is) about motocycles for Ben R in particular. But the general clause would seem to ban riding a donorcycle - I mean motorcycle - both on and off season. Possible that Ben R negotiated for additional rights to ride a motorcyle, of course.

Blogger Geoffrey Rapp -- 6/12/2006 9:07 PM  

I think Prof. Rapp should get the Johnny on the spot award for most CBA paragraphs provided on Sports Law Blog. (Seriously, that's great).

Anonymous Anonymous -- 6/12/2006 9:38 PM  

Big Ben should be thanking his lucky stars. Can you imagine if he had suffered a broken back or was killed? This would be one of the saddest times in Steeler history. With all the money and success he could achieve, I don't see how he could possibly see that as a good idea.

Jason Williams had to end his career early, although he is trying to return, because of a motorcycle accident. With millions of dollars at risk, its just not smart.

Anonymous Sports Overload -- 6/13/2006 11:23 AM  

Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is about as smart as playing football without a helmet. I wonder if Ben will play next season without his helmet.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 6/13/2006 3:02 PM  

Remember a world in which virtuoso classical musicians were afraid to get their hands caught in doors, or do any manual labor, for fear of messing with their livelihood?

I guess they (i) were more dedicated and (ii) needed the money.

Blogger ChapelHeel -- 6/13/2006 4:30 PM  

Ben's condition has just been upgraded to stupid.

Long-term prognosis is terminal

Blogger Larry -- 6/15/2006 11:10 AM  

What's even more ridiculaous is that most states don't have laws requiring helmets for motorcycle riders. There used to be a time in this country when there were no seatbelts in cars. The idiocy of not having this law far surpasses anything Ben did.


Anonymous Anonymous -- 6/21/2006 3:38 PM  

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