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Point, counterpoint: Roethlisberger's concussion

| Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is questionable for this week's game in Oakland because of a concussion he suffered Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Tribune-Review columnist John Harris and Steelers beat writer Scott Brown debate whether or not Roethlisberger should play against the Raiders.

Brown: If the Steelers medical staff clears him to play then by all means he should play against the Raiders. They are professionals, just like the players, and there is no way they will give Big Ben the OK to play if he is not ready. Their background and training would make them err on the side of caution and the Steelers won't rush him back since he is not only the present but also the future.

Harris: I think you played quarterback for the Steelers on Sunday, and suffered a concussion. You're concerned about Ben's value to the Steelers this week and this season. But what about his value to the Steelers beyond this season• He's a franchise quarterback, and that's a rare commodity in the NFL. Sitting Ben for one game isn't the end of the world,. It could be the best thing for everyone in the long run.

Brown: You are not the first person to say I am not right in the head and probably won't be the last. However, I meant future to mean in the coming years not just what remains of this one. You know Ben will want to play and if medical experts are OK with it then why would you have a problem with it• Correct me if I am wrong but weren't you an English, not pre-med, major at Mansfield University?

Harris: I learned enough English at the old alma mater to know how to spell concussion. It's P-A-I-N. All football players deal with pain, but concussions are different because they involve the head, the most vulnerable part of the body. I felt the hit that Ben took Sunday against the Falcons way up in the press box. That now makes two concussions for Ben since June. Ding! Ding! Ding! Scott, wake up and smell the coffee. One concussion isn't to be taken lightly. Two concussions in four months are scary.

Brown: John, what is scary is us having to go to Oakland this weekend. You want to talk about people not right in the head• I will say this for Raiders fans: at least they don't dress up in dog masks and eat cans of Alpo, though that might be considered a delicatessen in Cleveland. Seriously, I'm not making light of concussions or saying they aren't serious. My basic point is let the medical experts, e-x-p-e-r-t-s, decide if Roethlisberger can play. Why are you so anxious to keep him on the bench this week, is he playing against your fantasy squad?

Harris: Oh ye of little faith. Come on, Scott, the Steelers have a pretty good backup quarterback. You may have heard of him. Hometown favorite Charlie Batch is 24 of 39 for 410 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions this season. That's not chopped liver. On the other hand, the Raiders are chopped liver. Steelers coach Bill Cowher can kill two birds with one stone by giving Charlie some much-deserved playing time while giving Ben some much-needed rest.

Brown: OK, I'm confused. Are you Ben Roethlisberger's mother or Charlie Batch's promoter• If he is able, and we know he'll be willing, Roethlisberger gives this team the best chance to win Sunday. And don't assume the Steelers are going to beat the Raiders no matter how bad they are. The Jaguars lost by 20 points to the Texans last week and da mighty Bears should have lost to the Cardinals, which lost to the Raiders last week.

Harris: I'm the proud father of three children and a frustrated wanna-be agent, but don't try to change the subject. Focus, Scott, focus. What gives• It's one game. Take a deep breath and repeat after me: It's just one game. There are 10 games left. It's a long season, a marathon and not a sprint. I'm more concerned with Ben enjoying a long and healthy NFL career than having him miss one game against the sorry Raiders for precautionary reasons.

Brown: I hope Al Davis reads that remark about his beloved Raiders and bars you from the press box. Maybe then you could stand guard over the bubble that you obviously think Ben should be living in. Look, football's a violent game and blows to the head, unfortunately, are a part of it. We should defer to the medical experts, just as Bill Cowher will do, and have enough trust that the Steelers will do the right thing when it comes to Big Ben.

Harris: Scott, in case you stayed out in the sun too long while you were still living in Florida, Ben didn't have a typical offseason. He was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident in which he nearly died. He had an emergency appendectormy that caused him to miss the opener. He was tossed around like a rag doll in the Falcons game. I'd say that's a good enough reason to give Ben the week off. Better safe than sorry.

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