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Sports | Football: Champion quarterback suffers accident

Issue: "Wildfire," June 24, 2006

When Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow tore up his knee after crashing his motorcycle while performing tricks in a parking lot, sportswriters asked other bike-riding football players about the risks involved. Some singled out and criticized young Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his reluctance to wear a helmet while riding motorcycles.

On June 12 in Pittsburgh, the Super Bowl winner slammed one of his motorcycles into the passenger side of a turning vehicle, catapulting himself off the bike and into the windshield before slumping to the ground. Mr. Roethlisberger wasn't wearing a helmet, so the crash easily could have been fatal. As it was, the star quarterback suffered multiple fractures in his face, including a broken jaw and nose, and a 9-inch gash in the back of his head. Doctors said his injuries weren't life-threatening, but he won't be calling plays anytime soon.

In his 2005 interview with ESPN, Mr. Roethlisberger said he didn't ride a sport bike, but rather choppers like his Harley. But when he crashed, the Pittsburgh quarterback was riding a 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa, a 1300cc sport bike with a top speed reportedly of 186 mph.

U.S. soccer team upset

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Was the United States' No. 5 ranking a smokescreen to trick American viewers into watching the World Cup?

Many scoffed at that high a ranking for the United States entering World Cup play-and, apparently, so did the players. After the United States' embarrassing 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic (unlike baseball, a 3-0 loss equates to a major blowout), U.S. soccer coach Bruce Arena said his players lacked the "courage" and aggression to back up their elite ranking.

Soccer promoters in the United States had hoped that the 2006 World Cup would be the launching pad for a sport that, though eminently popular worldwide, has yet to catch on in the world's No. 1 sports-obsessed nation. Given hockey's fall-off, some thought soccer, through World Cup qualifiers and MLS seasons, would move into fourth place in team sports among U.S. fans-but it turns out that Americans still can't beat a top-level European team at its own game.

Around the Horn

BASEBALL: Revelations that Arizona relief pitcher Jason Grimsley used performance-enhancing drugs have driven him from the major leagues for now and may have tanked the Diamondbacks season. Before an investigation fingered Mr. Grimsley as the newest face of baseball's steroid scandal, the Diamondbacks were in first place. But the strife caused in Arizona's locker room propelled the Diamondbacks to lose their first seven games after Mr. Grimsley's suspension and fall out of first. One possible fear in Arizona's clubhouse? That Mr. Grimsley will name names. "I see players that are in a different place mentally than they were last week," Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick said.

BASKETBALL: After Game One of the NBA finals, with Miami's loss to Dallas interpreted as a lucky bounce for the Mavericks, the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal joked about his weight and joshed that he was from another planet. After Game Two, when Mavs double-teams held the Big Aristotle to five points and the Heat lost again, Shaq had nothing to say. He even skipped a league-mandated interview session, earning a $10,000 fine. Coincidence?

HOCKEY: Although nearly no one was watching the Carolina Hurricanes' attempt to close out a Stanley Cup against Edmonton, the National Hockey League enjoyed some rare good news: The NHL's anti-doping program returned no positive test results for last season.


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