Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pennsylvania Danger Cycle

As you may have heard by now, Ben Roethlisberger, star quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers was in a serious motorcycle accident on Monday, June 12 2006. In 2004, Roethlisberger signed a six year, $40 million dollar contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It also came with a hefty (2009) $9 million dollar roster bonus. Now, prior to his accident, Pittsburgh Steelers officials had warned him that he could be jeopardizing portions of his contract by continuing to ride a motorcycle. If that wasn't enough, it has been found that he didn't even have a valid permit or license to ride. The state of Pennsylvania's PennDOT only issues a motorcycle permit valid for one year. Roethlisberger's permit had expired on March 29, 2006. So, after ample warnings from his employer, he continued to ignore their heed and as a result, he now has multiple facial fractures including a broken nose and jaw, not to mention a totaled Suzuki Hayabusa.

Pennsylvania used to have a law stating that helmets were mandatory when operating a motorcycle. Sadly, it was amended in 2003 to make them optional for riders over the age of 21. Though, any motorcycle rider with less than two years of riding experience or that has not completed a Motorcycle Safety course must wear a helmet. In other words, by law, Roethlisberger was required to be wearing a helmet. I smell the makings of a legal loophole here. Technically he wasn't a licensed rider, so will his lawyers try to bypass the fact that he was required by law to wear a helmet and did not?

A few things about this story piss me off. First, he knowingly jeopardized a $50 million dollar contract to ride a fucking motorcycle even after being told by his employer that it could be detrimental to his contract and/or career. How fucking stupid can you be? (Apparently, very stupid.) Why bust your ass in college to become a player worthy of the NFL if you are going to piss it all away? Next, he broke the helmet law and was operating the motorcycle without a valid permit or license. People break those laws every day, so that's not what is bothering me. What has me heated is knowing that because he is a big Super bowl-winning NFL star, he's going to walk away from this with a legal slap on the wrist. Any one of us would be facing jail time, and all he'll see are some hefty fines which will be nothing less than a drop in his $50 million dollar bucket. You stupid, inconsiderate fucking asshole!

Now they are saying that he should be able to play this season. Now I ask, should that even be a consideration? He broke several laws and the trust of his employer. Why are they even considering allowing him to play? He may be talented on the field but it is apparent that common sense escapes him completely. I know that if I was his employer, he would be facing a lawful termination.

The last thing that bothers me is to know that the 35-year old helmet law of Pennsylvania was amended (2003) so that helmets become optional exactly at the same time it becomes legal to drink alcohol. How fucking idiotic is that? So, come your 21st birthday, you can legally get drunk and then drive one the most dangerous of "street-legal" vehicles and not even have to wear a fucking helmet. Granted, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, but by not wearing a helmet, your only sentence will be death. This amendment is a product of Mayor Ed Rendell (source) and if I were Lynn Swann, this could make a great topic of debate in the coming Mayoral Governor election. I'm pissed because I actually like Rendell, but damn! -- *sigh*


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