Kiwanuka talks about brother's accident

Updated: June 7, 2010, 3:40 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants won't have to worry about Mathias Kiwanuka riding a motorcycle anymore.

The defensive end said his days of riding are over after watching his older brother, Benedict, get thrown off his motorcycle in an accident nearly two weeks ago in Indianapolis.

Kiwanuka emerged unscathed. Benedict, who initially was in critical condition, has several broken bones and a bad arm injury but will make a full recovery according to Kiwanuka.

[+] EnlargeKiwanuka
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireGiants defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka spoke to reporters for the first time since his brother's motorcycle accident in late May.

"I won't be riding a motorcycle anytime soon," said Kiwanuka, who spoke to reporters about the accident for the first time since it happened on May 28. "It was definitely tough to see and definitely an experience I think God put all of us to go through. It is something that I never want to be a part of again."

Kiwanuka said he and his brother were taking a short ride in Indianapolis without helmets when the accident occurred. Indiana state law does not require riders of age with proper licenses to wear a helmet.

According to Indianapolis police, Benedict, 32, hit a car that pulled out of an apartment complex and it was estimated that he was thrown 100 feet off his motorcycle.

Kiwanuka, 27, said he was riding behind his brother and was able to stop and never fell off his motorcycle. He also said they were not speeding although witnesses told Indianapolis police that the brothers appeared to be riding "at a high rate of speed."

"No," Kiwanuka said when asked if speed was an issue after Monday's Giants' offseason training activity practice. "You are on a motorcycle, there is no room for error. Think about how many times you have been in a car and somebody cut you off. If you are on a bike and same thing happens, the consequences are a lot greater."

Benedict suffered a serious arm injury in addition to multiple broken bones and Kiwanuka said his brother lost a lot of blood from the arm. Kiwanuka was distraught and agonized over his brother for two days until Benedict's condition and prognosis improved and it was known that he would make a full recovery.

"In the beginning, it was touch and go," Kiwanuka said of Benedict, who is out of intensive care now. "It was tough to see and tough to go through. There was still exploring and they hadn't found the extent of all his injuries ... his arm was pretty broken up."

Once Kiwanuka learned Benedict would be fine, he returned to the Giants and participated in last week's OTA sessions.

Kiwanuka said he had been riding motorcycles for a "couple of years" and always wore a helmet when he rode in New Jersey due to state law. He explained that he and his brother didn't wear a helmet prior to the crash in Indianapolis because of Indiana state law and it was supposed to be a short ride. He now knows better.

Kiwanuka said he did not think the Giants were previously aware that he rode a motorcycle during the offseason but he also made it clear that the Giants didn't need to tell him to stop riding one anymore.

"Being a football player, I am a risk-taker in general," Kiwanuka explained of why he rode a motorcycle. "Before it was more the risk involved. I felt like we took all the proper precautions to minimize the risk but now I look at it with the consequences. Even if you do all the things right, the consequences of being in an accident on a motorcycle most likely are deaths. So we are blessed that he wasn't put in that situation. It is just not worth it."

Kiwanuka isn't the first NFL player to be involved in an offseason incident involving a motorcycle. Ben Roethlisberger and Kellen Winslow Jr. both suffered injuries following motorcycle accidents in the past. Still, the defensive end defends a player's rights to ride one during their free time as long as it is done safely and according to the law. NFL player contracts contain a broad hazardous activity clause but nothing specifically pertaining to motorcycles according to an NFL agent.

"I don't think you can control a person," Kiwanuka said when asked if NFL contracts should contain a clause banning motorcycle riding. "It is a great job to have and I understand it is a gift. But during the offseason, when you are off the field, each person is a man and has to make decisions for himself. You can get hurt on a motorcycle but you can get hurt falling down a flight of stairs. I don't think the NFL should take a step to further regulate what we do as long as it is not putting other people in jeopardy."

Kiwanuka knows he won't put his life at risk any longer by riding a motorcycle. He is retiring his Honda CBR.

"You go through something like that, you realize how much of a gift life is and how short it can be and just try to make better decisions," Kiwanuka said. "And for me, the position that I am in, watching that and knowing what I have left here to do, not just in football but on this Earth, it is enough to wake you up and make you realize there are better ways to have fun."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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