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Roethlisberger Apologizes To Fans

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Thursday he is "fortunate to be alive" and apologized to the team, fans and his family in his first statement since a serious motorcycle accident.

"In the past few days, I've gained a new perspective on life," Roethlisberger said in a statement released by the team. "By the grace of God, I'm fortunate to be alive ... "

Roethlisberger, who wrecked his bike and cracked his head on a car windshield on Monday, was discharged last Wednesday night.

The youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl was not wearing a helmet when he crashed into a car that was turning left in front of his motorcycle. He said in the statement that if he ever rides a motorcycle again "it certainly will be with a helmet."

Doctors have two rounds of tests showed no brain injuries, although there was a mild concussion. Doctors used small titanium plates and screws to reassemble Roethlisberger's broken jaws and repaired other broken facial bones. He also lost two teeth and chipped several others, doctors said.

Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet when he crashed into a car that was turning left in front of his motorcycle.

"People are knocking him for not wearing a helmet and all of that, but the guy is hurting," Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said from the team's minicamp Thursday. "He went through seven hours of surgery and the last thing he needs right now is guys banging on him for not wearing a helmet."

Police were still investigating and will not release their findings until their accident reconstruction is complete, spokeswoman Tammy Ewin said. Police have finished inspecting Roethlisberger's Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle and the car, but Ewin would not elaborate on that part of the investigation.

A secretary for District Justice Oscar Petite Jr., who has jurisdiction where the crash occurred, said no citations or other charges have been filed.

The car's driver, a 62-year-old woman, did not immediately return a message left on her home telephone Thursday.

The Steelers have not given a timetable for his return but hope he will be ready for their Sept. 7 opener against Miami. Players who visited Roethlisberger in the hospital believe he will return to action soon with no ill effects.

The Steelers are 27-4 with Roethlisberger at quarterback and have played in two AFC championship games and won a Super Bowl during his two seasons as a starter.

Bengals receiver Chad Johnson hopes the accident does not cause teams to impose more contractual limits on dangerous activities by players.

"They took away the (touchdown) celebrations. Now we can't enjoy ourselves outside of the facility? That's not fair," Johnson said.

"If you're going to do it, do it very cautiously. If you're going to ride a bike, ride it the right way. Don't speed. Do it for enjoyment. If you're going to bungee jump, have two cords in case one snaps. I don't ride anything. I just talk trash. That's it."

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, citing confidentiality laws, has refused to confirm media reports that Roethlisberger did not have a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license.

Officials in Ohio, where Roethlisberger starred in high school and college, said he had a driver's license there until Oct. 25, 2004, the date Ohio received notice that he obtained a Pennsylvania license. Roethlisberger did not have permission on his Ohio license to drive a motorcycle, although licensed drivers in that state can get a renewable one-year permit to drive a motorcycle by taking only a written test, said Julie Ehrhart, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

But the Ohio permits also come with restrictions: no passengers, no freeway or night riding and the operator must wear a helmet, Ehrhart said. Ohio driver license records do not reflect if someone gets a motorcycle permit, so Ehrhart could not say whether Roethlisberger ever had one.

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