What was Big Ben thinking?

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 7:02 AM ET

Apologies for going Seinfeld on you here, but what's the deal with reigning Super Bowl-champion Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger thinking it's cool to head out on his motorcycle without a helmet?

Monday morning, when his Suzuki had an unplanned and abrupt meeting with a Chrysler sedan, the Pittsburgh pivot dodged a major bullet in needing only a stretcher -- not a body bag -- to leave the accident scene.

Still no official comment from the Steelers on the accident, but the team did warn its starting quarterback last year, in writing, of its stance on "perilous activity away from the field." That move now appears to be a very timely legal manoeuvre, as it might just give the Steelers recourse should injuries keep Roethlisberger off the field.

You can bet that team officials are really busy right now meeting with agents and lawyers to see how this accident might affect Big Ben's big fat contract, as it includes nothing specific about riding his bike, but does include the standard clause prohibiting off-field activities that pose "a significant risk of personal injury."

I know that the Vancouver Canucks frown upon players skiing in their time away from the ice. I know B.C. provides some of the best alpine opportunities in the world, but players have to balance that temptation with the responsibilities they have to management, fans and their teammates.

Aside from head injuries that required surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, Big Ben suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, a nine-inch gash on his head, loss of a few teeth and banged-up knees. All-in-all, Roethlisberger is a very, very lucky man.

Here is a Super Bowl champ who gets millions upon millions of dollars to do a job most can only dream about. Just last week he was all smiles at the White House hanging out with George W., and yet somehow this bike freak still has the need for speed and the wind in his hair while riding his rocket.

Head-injury statistics don't lie, so riddle me this; how does a man who seems to have it all risk everything to go ball-cap-on-backwards on what Suzuki has described as "the fastest production bike on the planet."

Thrill seekers take note: bikes are a blast but exceptionally dangerous if not ridden with a good dose of fear and a helmet. A bike is no place for the urban sombrero.

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Jody Vance is a longtime television sportscaster and personality living in Toronto. Her column appears Tuesdays Thursdays in 24 hours.


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