Charlie Batch has had to scramble away from trouble in his eight years playing quarterback in the NFL. On June 12, he willingly scampered into the eye of it. Had to, he said.
Television, radio, newspapers, the Internet -- none of it provided Batch with the kind of information he could get only at Mercy Hospital, where Ben Roethlisberger lay in Lord knew what condition.
"Everybody was talking about football. I said I'm just trying to figure out if this guy is still alive," Batch said nearly eight weeks later, on a much slower news day at Steelers training camp on the Saint Vincent College campus.
Batch was among Roethlisberger's first teammates to rush to Mercy Hospital the day of his motorcycle accident. He was told to come back later because Roethlisberger was in surgery. He returned at 7 p.m. and the surgery was not done, "So, we sat around with the family, just talking, trying to ease the tension a little bit," Batch said.
Batch stayed several hours, but was unable to see Roethlisberger until two days later.
"I just wanted to make sure he was OK. I was able to talk to him. I felt better after I left there."
The two reviewed pictures that Wednesday the way they might on the sideline of a Steelers game, only they weren't still shots of the Bengals' defense but X-rays of Roethlisberger's repaired head.
"He showed me the pictures -- What happened? Here's what's going on. What's this? What's this?" Batch said. "When I left, I felt a whole lot better. I knew he was definitely going to be around."