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Surgically repaired comment by Falcon won't be forgotten by Ben



Published: Thu, October 26, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Pro football has had 'The Drive,' 'The Fumble' and now 'The Hit.'

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Ben Roethlisberger won't have any trouble remembering the hit that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback his latest concussion.

"It felt like it busted my whole jaw," he said Wednesday.

He also won't forget the crude comment made by one of the three Atlanta Falcons players who, while sacking him Sunday, apparently taunted Roethlisberger by saying he wanted to hit him in his surgically repaired face.

Limited workout

Roethlisberger took part in limited work during practice Wednesday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game in Oakland, despite receiving his second concussion in about four months. He has not been cleared by doctors to play but, if he is, plans to "beg and plead" with coach Bill Cowher to do so.

"If you ask me, I'm always leaning toward playing, no matter what it is," he said Wednesday. "But it's something we have to be smart about."

Roethlisberger, who led the Steelers to a Super Bowl win last season, was injured during a helmet-to-helmet hit by defensive end Chauncey Davis immediately after releasing a pass during the third quarter. Roethlisberger also was sandwiched by defensive lineman Patrick Kerney and linebacker Ed Hartwell.

"They got me from every angle," he said.

Roethlisberger lay motionless for several minutes, and at least one teammate said he was unconscious on the turf. He was visibly dazed while being taken to the locker room, but felt better within a few minutes and later returned to the sideline.

Vague recollection

"The last thing I remember is throwing to Hines [Ward] and I tried to duck out of it, and as I tried to duck out of it I remember getting hit in the chin -- it felt like I busted my whole jaw or something," he said. "One of their players said something to me and that's the last thing I remember."

He declined to identify the player who talked about the facial injuries the quarterback received during his June motorcycle crash, but said: "I'll remember his number."

"They made a little comment, but I won't bring it up right now," he said. "When I got hit, I wasn't worried about the front of it [the jaw] -- it's stronger than it was before -- but the back of it was a little sore."

Roethlisberger needed seven hours of surgery to repair the facial damage caused during the crash, with strips of titanium placed in the jaw to strengthen it. He also received a concussion during an accident that occurred while he wasn't wearing a helmet.

Despite another head injury, he doesn't plan to switch to the recently designed football helmet that affords a player more protection from concussions.

Still has headaches

Roethlisberger has had headaches since Sunday, though they are not as bad as they initially were. Still, Cowher is encouraged by the tests Roethlisberger has taken at least twice this week.

The tests measure a player's memory, attention, mental processing speed and reaction time. The results are compared to those taken when the player was healthy, and are used to determine when he can play again after a concussion.

While those close to Roethlisberger labeled the concussion as "mild" and not worrisome, the symptoms he describes suggest otherwise.

According to widely recognized grading systems used by neurosurgeons and other medical professionals, any concussion that involves a loss of consciousness cannot be labeled as mild. Loss of consciousness, headaches and memory loss are more often associated with severe concussions.

Close to work

The concussion tests NFL players take were largely designed by doctors who work in the medical complex where the Steelers practice, so Cowher isn't worried Roethlisberger might be cleared prematurely to play.

"The biggest thing is we get clearance from the medical people," Cowher said. "Once that has been decided then I have to sit down and talk to Ben and see how comfortable he is and see where he is."

Long-term medical studies have suggested that players who receive multiple concussions can be increasingly susceptible to others. Roethlisberger acknowledged he may have had others in his career.

"I've been playing football a long time," the 24-year-old said. "I'm sure I've had a few mild dings here and there."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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