Rescuers told Roethlisberger he was close to dying

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday night that he was told he was
"seconds, maybe a minute away from dying" immediately after his
motorcycle accident last month.

Roethlisberger, in his first interview since the June 12
accident, told ESPN's "SportsCenter" that he doesn't remember
much about the accident when he rammed his motorcycle into a car
that was making a left turn in front of him on a Pittsburgh street.
He did, however, remember what he was told by people at the scene.

"They told me that I was literally seconds, maybe a minute away
from dying because I slit a vein or artery in my mouth or my throat
and it was draining blood right into my stomach and luckily the
paramedic noticed it and stopped it or else I would have had too
much blood in my stomach," he told ESPN's Jim Rome in Los Angeles, where he was for the taping of the ESPYS.

"I remember very few things about the accident,"
Roethlisberger said. "I remember one car turning in front of me, I
don't remember the car that hit me, but I remember that first car
turning in front of me and the next thing I remember is being in
the ambulance and asking, 'Is this really happening?'

"I said, 'Tell me this is just a bad dream,' and he said, 'No, everything is going to be OK,' and he asked me, 'Is there anyone
you want me to call?' ... I just gave him two numbers and I don't
remember anything until I woke up from surgery."

Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of surgery to repair a
broken jaw and other facial bones. Tests showed no brain injuries,
although he had a mild concussion. He also lost two teeth and
chipped several others.

Roethlisberger was cited for not wearing a helmet when the
accident happened.

"That day I wasn't, I forgot it. I literally forgot it," he
said. "You know there are times that, people that have been making a big deal for the last couple years about me riding first of all, and then me riding without a helmet, but it's one of those things
that I ride with a helmet also. I do a little bit of both. If you
don't wear a seat belt every time you ride in the car should I
label you as a person who doesn't wear a seat belt? And
unfortunately I happened to not have it on that day because I
forgot it in the basement."

Roethlisberger said he didn't know if he would ride a motorcycle

"I don't know. I am not even thinking about that right now," he said. "To me, right now, like I said when I first started
thinking about things, I started thinking about my family. Now that
I am doing better and I feel good, now all I am thinking about is
football and that is what is on my mind right now. I am getting
healthy and I am getting better every day so all I am thinking
about is football. I am not thinking about anything else."

Additional portions of Roethlisberger's interview with ESPN will be aired Thursday on the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter and subsequent editions. The ESPYS will be televised Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

He doesn't plan on doing public safety announcements for motorcycle or helmet safety.

"I don't think that's my place," the quarterback said in a taped interview aired Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"Some people feel that, you know, I probably should be doing that and being a big advocate for that," Roethlisberger said from
Los Angeles. "But for me, I'm going to let people make their own
decisions ... So I don't think you'll see me doing any kind of
billboards or advertisements."

Roethlisberger told ABC he forgot how his life is scrutinized
by the public.

"I forgot that I have to live this life under the microscope
and that people are always watching and criticizing everything that
I do," he said. "I'm coming off two pretty good seasons in the
NFL, winning a Super Bowl and 24 years old, and maybe this is God's
way of saying, 'Hey, I can take it away from you at anytime so you
better back off a little bit."'

Roethlisberger is scheduled to play in a celebrity golf
tournament this weekend in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Including the postseason, the Steelers are 27-4 with
Roethlisberger at quarterback. They advanced to the AFC
Championship Game in both his seasons as a starter, winning the
Super Bowl in January.

The Steelers won the ESPY for best team, and Roethlisberger
joined his teammates and coach Bill Cowher onstage to accept the
award. It was his first public appearance since the accident.

Roethlisberger didn't appear backstage to talk to reporters.

"I have no concerns about Ben," Cowher said backstage. "He's going to have to get hit a couple times to see if he's all the way
back. Hopefully, he can be a great inspiration to a lot of people
about looking at life a little more cautiously."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.