June 12th. A day that will live in infamy (sorry for stealin’ your line, FDR).
Last year, on this very day, Ben Roethlisberger’s Suzuki Hayabusa (all of Pittsburgh learned about that model) decided to take on a Chrysler New Yorker.
Big Ben’s accident was startling to the entire city, if not the entire nation. After becoming the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Ben decided to take a few chances (take a few chances = ride Suzuki’s fastest bike with no helmet).
Coverage of the accident escalated throughout the season, as Ben’s fake face decided to struggle mightily. Was the accident to blame for Ben’s failures? The appendicitis? An unblocked Bart Scott?
The Roethlisberger accident generated the kind of buzz that places it firmly in Pittsburgh sports lore. Most Pittsburgh fans can tell you what they were doing during the Immaculate Reception. Or any of the Super Bowl wins. Or any of the AFC Championship losses. Roethlisberger’s crash became one of those instances.
I was at Nigro’s restaurant in North Versailles, near Duquesne. That place has awesome food. My great-Aunt Metz (Mary, but she was Serbian) had just passed away, and the family gathered at Nigro’s after the funeral. All at once, I heard several distant cousins talking about a crash. All I heard was, “stupid” and “Steelers” and “no helmet” and “motorcycle crash.” Pretty soon, the topic of the day had shifted from Aunt Metz to Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh sports icons have a way of displacing beloved family members.
If you remember where you were/what you were doing, feel free to drop me a comment/email.
Oh, and Happy Ghost Rider Anniversary, Ben!