PITTSBURGH - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident Monday morning, began his recovery yesterday in the comfort of his home with members of his family - and with a newfound appreciation for how lucky he is.
"In the past few days, I have gained a new perspective on life," he said in a statement released through the Steelers. "By the grace of God, I am fortunate to be alive, surrounded by loved ones and lifted by the prayers and support of so many. I am sorry for any anxiety and concern my actions have caused others, specifically my family, the Steelers organization, my teammates and our fans.
"I recognize that I have a responsibility to safeguard my health in the offseason so I can continue to lead our team effectively. I never meant any harm to others nor to break any laws. I was confident in my ability to ride a motorcycle and simply believed such an accident would not happen to me.
"If I ever ride again, it certainly will be with a helmet."
Roethlisberger lacked both a helmet and a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license when he crashed Monday, according to Pittsburgh police sources.
State law requires people operating or riding a motorcycle to wear helmets unless they are older than 21 and either have been licensed for at least two years or have completed a motorcycle safety course approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
By passing the course, a rider automatically becomes licensed.
The statement went on to thank the Steelers and his teammates for their compassion.
Roethlisberger also extended his thanks to the physicians and support staff at Mercy Hospital.
"I will forever be grateful for their caring treatment," he said.
Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of extensive surgery Monday at Mercy Hospital after suffering multiple injuries to his face and head when the motorcycle he was riding slammed into the side of a car on Second Avenue at the 10th Street Bridge intersection. He broke portions of his upper and lower jaw, his nose and the orbital bone underneath his eye, lost and damaged some teeth, and suffered a mild concussion.
Surgeons used titanium plates to put broken and cracked bones back together, then, after two days in the hospital, released him late Wednesday night.
Roethlisberger was believed to be resting at his home on Washington's Landing in the company of family members.
The cars parked in the driveway - and the presence of his bodyguard - gave residents the impression that he was back in the bosom of their quiet neighborhood.
Yesterday evening, they were giving him his space. Neighbors walked their dogs and chatted with friends on sidewalks outside their homes, but warily eyed anyone that didn't appear to belong.
A circling police cruiser helped ensure that the Roethlisbergers were left alone.
But there was no repeat of the media throng and the gathering of Steelers fans that responded to the news of the injured quarterback by holding vigil outside Mercy Hospital for two days.
"That's kind of nice," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified. "Let the man heal."
Which, according to his statement, is just what Roethlisberger is intent on doing.
"I want to assure everyone I am committed to a complete and timely recovery," he concluded. "I look forward to being at training camp in Latrobe and to winning football games this season."
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dan Majors is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.