Elsewhere, the Roethlisberger motorcycle crash story is tearing up the internets. Big Ben was not wearing a helmet, and the response from Steelers nation and elsewhere has been predictably bitter. A slight digression from the usual blather here to offer some thoughts:
1) Best wishes to Big Ben and his family.
2) Only assholes do not wear helmets.
3) The state-by-state patchwork of helmet laws/no helmet law is not the issue. There is no law prohibiting me from using a hair dryer in the tub, but I don't because I know better.
That said, as someone who has logged more than a few miles on an unpowered two-wheel vehicle:
4) Not having cars hit you is an even better way to stay safe than wearing a helmet. If you get hit by a car on a bike or motorcycle, chances are, you will get messed up, no matter what. Based in the early reports, a vehicle pulled in front of the QB, leaving him without options. If this turns out to be the case, the inattention of the other motorist is a much bigger factor than helmet or no. The helmet/no helmet issue seems to be a shortcut many journalists use in deciding blame. Generally speaking helmet=innocent victim, no helmet=limited sympathy. In the summer of 2004, there was a fatal bike accident on Lincoln St. in Allston, MA--much was made of the fact that the young woman was not wearing a helmet, and very little of the fact that she was broadsided by an SUV.
So: Wear a fucking helmet if your vehicle has fewer than four wheels. Make sure it is the right helmet, and that it fits. (Mom and Dad: Letting Dustin and Cheyenne tool around the subdivision with helmets cocked back at a festive yamulkesque angle won't do much good, and may lower their SAT scores.) If some clown in a car, truck and SUV runs you over, you may still die, but at least they will not have the excuse that you were not wearing a helmet.
The bright spot in all of this? Some impromptu tailgating:
The recovery period for the Steeler Nation may be longer, however. The first sign that Steelers' fans were taking this hard came with the news that hundreds of people were holding vigil outside of the hospital during the surgery. And being Steelers fans, of course, some had brought with them portable grills. This is absolutely true; Roethlisberger's seven-hour surgery provided yet another opportunity for Steelers' fans to do a little tailgating.