Steelers fans sympathetic with players' well-being
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There is the superficial pain of a lost football game. But that's quite different from the health risk associated with concussions, Steelers fans said last night.
Steelers fan Mark Levine, 45, of Chippewa, Beaver County, said he would have preferred that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had been in street clothes Sunday night.
"I would rather he not have even dressed for the game, if he truly had a concussion," said Mr. Levine, who was at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar in North Fayette with his wife and two sons last night. "Would they have put him in? That would have been a shame, because it's a bigger issue than just him being a tough guy and playing. It's a life issue."
Mr. Levine, who once played right guard for Baldwin High School, said medical advances and precautions cannot be ignored.
"I remember getting hit and then getting up and trying to get my bounce back," he said. "Back then, you had to brush it off and put a little dirt on it and get back in there. That's pretty much just what we did.
"It was scary, and back then we didn't have the [precautions] that they have now, with the ambulances and [paramedics] there during the games."
Tim Flynn, 35, of Weirton, W.Va., and his fiancee, Rachel Wilson, 26, also were at Buffalo Wild Wings, where Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes made a public appearance last night. Mr. Holmes' teammate, wide receiver Hines Ward, questioned why Mr. Roethlisberger couldn't play through the injury.
"I'd like to agree with Hines Ward because he's my favorite player," said Ms. Wilson, who was wearing a Ward jersey. "But you have to go with the doctors' decisions."
"The doctors would know better," Mr. Flynn said. "Besides, they should have beat [the Baltimore Ravens] without him. It's a team game."
Jonathan Cohen, 17, and his friend, Dennis Rabinovich, 17, both of Squirrel Hill, are seniors at Allderdice High School. They traveled to Buffalo Wild Wings for Mr. Holmes' autograph. But, being Steelers fans, they said they want what's best for the future of Mr. Roethlisberger and the team.
"It's a concussion, and someone's health is more important than the game," said Mr. Cohen. "You can't push him to play with a concussion. You have to let him recover so he can play to his full potential. You don't want to see him lose his career because of one game.
Mr. Rabinovich, a defenseman on a local hockey team, said he suffered a concussion a few years ago when he struck his head while he was playing with an outdated helmet.
"Now, my parents always make sure that my helmets are up to date and always tightened," he said.
Paul Radatovich, 47, of New Brighton, was shopping at Dick's Sporting Goods at The Mall at Robinson with his son, Paul, last night. Mr. Radatovich played quarterback for the New Brighton High School and the University of Pittsburgh football teams. His son plays for the New Brighton Middle School team.
"I think they're still learning about the long-term effects of injuries that guys suffered a long time ago. So I'm not judging anyone else," Mr. Radatovich said.
He said he has been in the stands for his son's games, and he is mindful of the risk.
"I've seen other kids that aren't mine get up slowly after a tackle," he said, "and your heart still stops for a second because you don't want to see anybody get hurt, especially those young kids like that."
His son, however, said that his coaches stress safety and proper equipment.
"They try to make it as safe as possible and protect us," he said. "We even have team prayers before each game that nobody gets hurt, including the players on the other team."
Bill Crispe, 58, of Imperial, used to play quarterback when he was a young man in Florida. He recalls having been knocked unconscious once.
"It was practice. One of those Oklahoma drills, they used to call them," he said while sitting at Ditka's Restaurant in Robinson. "Within a week, I was back on the field. But that was 40 years ago."
Still, even at that time, he saw a doctor and was held out of practice for four or five days.
"Concussions are serious. You have a hundred-million-dollar investment out there and you don't want to jeopardize it," he said. "I don't think you can err on the side of caution. It's not what's going to happen today, it's what's going to happen 10, 15 years from now. Ben doesn't have children, he doesn't have a wife. He needs to be around for that. It's just not worth it."
First Published December 1, 2009 12:00 am