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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
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    Sep 2005

    Kassulke says helmet saved him

    Posted on Fri, Jun. 16, 2006

    [size=18px]Kassulke says helmet saved him[/size]


    Pioneer Press

    Thirty-three years ago, Karl Kassulke was a strong safety for the Vikings, regarded as one of the toughest, hardest hitters in the National Football League. He had been a Pro Bowl player. He was 32, had played in the 1969 Super Bowl against Kansas City, was immensely popular among teammates and fans, and planned to play several more seasons for Minnesota.

    Then one day, as a passenger while a friend drove Kassulke's Honda 650cc motorcycle on Interstate 494 near Minnetonka Boulevard, the motorcycle crashed into a car at a speed approaching the 65-mph limit.

    "We got behind a truck that was kicking up stuff, so we pulled out to pass the truck in a lane with steel dividers," Kassulke said this week. "We're cresting on top of a hill, and a gal is making an illegal U-turn in a maintenance exit. She was 16 years old, missed her turn and was lost. In essence, she was stopped. You don't expect to see a car stopped on the freeway, especially next to the steel dividers in a passing lane."

    The driver of Kassulke's motorcycle couldn't brake in time and rear-ended the car. The motorcycle flipped; Kassulke flew 150 feet and landed in an opposite lane on the freeway.

    "When we hit, it was like shooting a slingshot," Kassulke said.

    Kassulke was wearing a helmet, as was his driver. When Karl hit the pavement, his helmet shattered.

    "If I hadn't had the helmet on, I definitely would have been a dead duck," he said. "They thought the head injury was far worse than the back injury. I had an attention span of about 30 seconds to a minute, then I'd drift off to never-never land. That was kind of a blessing because I lived in a fog for a couple of months."

    A blood clot in Kassulke's head finally dissipated.

    "And I got my normal thinking back," he said.

    Kassulke laughed his trademark cackle.

    "Although," he said, "my wife will dispute that."

    The crash ended Kassulke's football career. He broke nearly 20 bones. He faded in and out of a coma. He was on a respirator. He became a paraplegic.

    "Basically, from midchest down, I'm paralyzed," he said. "My days of walking and playing football are over. I'm a member of the wheelchair set."

    On Monday, Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of surgery resulting from a collision with a car while riding his motorcycle. He was not wearing a helmet.

    "It might be macho not to wear a helmet, to have your hair blow in the wind when you're on the bike," Kassulke said.

    "But it's really stupid. Really, that's just asking for trouble. I'm sorry that he had the accident, and I hope he comes through it and things get better and he gets his full faculties back. It makes me sad that he wasn't wearing a helmet; he should have had a helmet on.

    "He might pull through this whole thing, but he would have been far better off if he had a helmet on."

    Kassulke, 65, lives in Eagan.

    "I'm doing well," he said. "I'm my old sassy self."

    Retired, Kassulke speaks at churches and is active with an organization named "Wings," a Christian outreach program to the handicapped. He visits hospitals and offers counseling.

    If Karl could counsel Roethlisberger, what would he say?

    "Forget about your hair blowing in the wind and wear a helmet," he said. "And wait until you retire before you ride a bike."

    ) Recently promoted Twins outfielder Jason Kubel, who had hit three home runs in three days at the Metrodome, said his surgically rebuilt knee that required a year to rehabilitate still hurts regularly, but he ignores it when he's playing and it doesn't bother him.

    ) The Twins' Joe Mauer and Lew Ford on Thursday filmed a public service announcement for Volunteers of America that will be used by schools to encourage youth volunteerism.

    ) Peerless Wild radio play-by-play voice Bob Kurtz, on agreeing to a contract extension Thursday: "They were very kind to me and I'm looking forward to the next couple of years."

    ) Fourteen of the nation's top 18 slow-pitch softball teams will compete today through Sunday at Central Park fields in Brooklyn Park.

    ) The Tournament Players Club in Blaine, site of the 3M Championship in August, has openings for its "Support the Troops" U.S. Department of Defense fundraiser golf tournament Monday morning. For information, call 763-795-0800.

    Charley Walters' column appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected]

    Kassulke says helmet saved him

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
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    Re: Kassulke says helmet saved him

    :???: For some strange reason, I thought I remembered him being paralyzed from a snowmobile or skiing accident?

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
    Vikes_King's Avatar
    Vikes_King is offline Jersey Retired
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Kassulke says helmet saved him

    helmet helping save your life?

    who woulda thunk it.

    "We’ll win our own Super Bowl, with our own players. Real Vikings. Something Brett Favre can never be."

    - Dan Calabrese

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