Big Ben well enough to play charity golf tournament

Updated: July 7, 2006, 2:40 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last month, will play in a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe next week and appear in a music video.

Roethlisberger has committed to play July 14-16 in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood-Tahoe Golf Course at Stateline, Nev.

"He called last week and confirmed that he will definitely be making his appearance in Tahoe and will be playing in the event," said Jon Miller, NBC Sports' senior vice president for programming.

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will also play. The Lance Armstrong Foundation will be one of the charity beneficiaries of the three-day tournament

"I got a little worried when they told me there would be spectators," Armstrong told reporters during a teleconference. "I would just warn them to get out of the way when I hit the ball. If I ever broke 100, I'd be happy. That's how bad I am."

Other celebrity golfers scheduled to appear include Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Ray Romano, Donald Trump, Jerry Rice and Mario Lemieux.

"Jordan I know quite well, Barkley a little bit. He says bike riding is not a sport. So I'm bringing him a bike and we're going to find out what's a sport," Armstrong said.

A spokeswoman for The PovertyNeck Hillbillies, a country music group in Pittsburgh, announced Friday that Roethlisberger will be shooting a music video with the group on Tuesday at Heinz Field.

A Steelers spokesman declined to comment on Roethlisberger's recovery or his personal appearances. Roethlisberger's agent, Leigh Steinberg, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of facial reconstruction surgery June 12 after ramming his Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle into a car that turned left in front of him on a Pittsburgh street. Roethlisberger broke his jaw and nose when his head smashed into the car's windshield and he was thrown over the car onto the pavement. He was cited for riding without a license and not wearing a helmet -- which unlicensed riders cannot legally do in Pennsylvania.

Roethlisberger, 24, who became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl after just his second season with the Steelers, spent less than three full days in the hospital.

NBC will televise the second and third rounds of the American Century Championship. The Golf Channel will televise the first round on July 14.

Armstrong won't be in the official competition for the $500,000 purse because he's scheduled to depart July 14 to crown his successor in France. But he's in the field for Thursday's celebrity-am and said he's looking forward to his first round on the 7,445-yard course that winds through towering pines along Lake Tahoe.

"I'm still trying to figure out this retirement thing. I seem to be busier than ever," he said. "The life of an athlete is a simple one. You sort of train, practice, you eat, then rest and then you play the game. It's a simple existence. I don't have that anymore."

"Now life is full of travel and full of commitments and full of responsibilities. That's just part of it. It is an adjustment. It's still surprising to me."

Armstrong said he's often asked why he doesn't play more golf.

"When you're just not very good at something, it's sometimes hard to justify spending six hours to do it," he said.

Between appearances for his foundation, Armstrong has been training for the New York Marathon in November. He said his goal is to finish within an hour of the winner.

"Actually, I would be happy if I broke three hours. I found running to be more challenging than I had expected."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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