PITTSBURGH -- Despite Kellen Winslow Jr.'s accident and his own coach's admonition, Big Ben isn't hopping off his big bike just yet.
Ben Roethlisberger was lectured Friday by Steelers coach Bill Cowher on the dangers of riding a motorcycle without a helmet -- as Roethlisberger has been spotted doing recently -- but the quarterback isn't ready to get off his $20,000 cycle.
"He talked about being a risk taker and I'm not really a risk taker. I'm pretty conservative and laid back, but the big thing is to just be careful," Roethlisberger said as the Steelers opened their minicamp. "I'll just continue to be careful. I told him we don't ever ride alone, we always ride in a group of people, and I think it makes it even more safe."
Asked why he doesn't wear a helmet -- something he wouldn't think about doing on a football field -- Roethlisberger pointed out Pennsylvania's 35-year-old state law requiring helmets to be worn was amended two years ago.
|Ben Roethlisberger sits proudly on his $20,000 bike. (Getty Images)|
Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was surprised to hear the NFL offensive rookie of the year is taking such risks so soon after Winslow's accident. The Browns tight end, drafted five spots ahead of Roethlisberger last year, was injured Sunday when he flew off a newly purchased motorcycle after running into a parking lot curb.
"Some guys are real good on motorcycles and know what they're doing, but accidents happen," Porter said. "I can't knock the guy for doing it, but it's probably not the wisest thing to do. I don't own a bike because I don't trust them."
Porter occasionally gets on a Jet Ski, but he said that's different from steering a motorcycle through heavy traffic. Roethlisberger acknowledged many drivers become distracted when they see him riding, shouting or waving at him.
"If I fall off a Jet Ski, I hit the water, and I like my odds," Porter said. "I'm going to get wet. What I say about motorcycles is that concrete is undefeated."
Of course, Roethlisberger was, too, as a rookie, going 13-0 during the Steelers' team-record 15-1 regular season before losing to New England in the AFC Championship Game.
The Steelers are understandably cautious about combining a first-round draft choice and a high-speed vehicle. Gabe Rivera, the defensive lineman they chose instead of quarterback Dan Marino in the 1983 draft, was paralyzed after wrecking his sports car midway through his rookie season and hasn't walked since.
Many NFL contracts prohibit engaging in dangerous activities, but Roethlisberger's deal apparently doesn't specifically ban motorcycle riding.
Cowher didn't criticize Roethlisberger's riding, but is visibly uneasy with it.
"I certainly don't condone that," Cowher said. "It (playing pro football) is a very small time in your life and you've got to be very careful - you can see it documented with Kellen Winslow in Cleveland. There are choices and consequences ... not just in riding motorcycles, but where you go and who you associate with. You have control over them but once you make your decision, they control you."
Meanwhile, all players reported to the minicamp, the formal start to the final month of the Steelers' offseason workouts. Most players will remain in town through mid-June for "coaching sessions," daily workouts that technically are voluntary but usually are fully attended.