Video still, RazorVision
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he’ll wear a helmet from now on.
Petrino, who was released from the hospital Tuesday following a Sunday evening motorcycle crash 20 miles outside of Fayetteville, spoke to a room full of reporters wearing a neck brace and with a noticeably swollen and bruised face.
Here’s how he opened the press conference:
First of all, I’d just like to thank everybody that really has shown their support for me and my family. I really appreciate the doctors and the way they handled it. They were ready to go right when I hit the hospital. We had the surgeon that did surgery on my neck last spring there; we had a plastic surgeon who stitched me up, Doctor Arnold checking other areas, so it was quite an amazing medical staff that they put together in such a short period of time. I’m very fortunate. I feel very lucky to be here and be in good health. It was a situation where I don’t remember a lot about exactly what happened, but I remember coming around the curve, I was noticing the sun was going to be in my eyes the rest of the way home, and then there got to a point where I was not going to be able to maneuver the turn. It seemed like 15 seconds where I said, ‘Oh no, here I go,’ and went into the ditch. Right as I came off the pavement I remember hitting the brakes and trying to lower the bike down, lay the bike down, and take a little leap. I was fortunate when I did get up, and was able to get up and get in the street, there was a car waiting there that said ‘hey, we’ll take you to the hospital right now,’ and they actually brought me to a place where I met Lance King, our State Trooper, and then he brought me to the hospital. Like I said, I’m very fortunate to be here, I’m very fortunate to have great support from everybody throughout the state, and I’m very happy for our football team and how they showed their support for me. So with that, I’ll just open it up for questions.
After that, the questions poured in.
Do you feel humbled by the experience?
Yeah, certainly. I enjoy going out and riding the bike. I was just going out on a Sunday night after dinner, a short ride. I had been in that area before, but I normally stopped at Elkins High School and turned around and came back, so I went a little further. But it’s something that really puts a scare in you. I can’t say that I’m not going to ride a motorcycle again, because I might do that. The ironic thing is we were sitting there in the kitchen, Becky and I, and I had two helmets out, and I said ‘this one’s going to be really heavy and hot, and this one makes me look like a cone head, I think I’ll just go with the hat.’ Obviously a bad call. We wouldn’t have converted the third down.
What are the extent of your injuries?
I have a C-2 vertebrate that – I don’t know if it’s cracked or broken, but it’s on the outside, so it’s not leaning towards the spine, so that’s a really good thing. I have four broken ribs in my upper chest, it’s the ribs that are up high, and the rest of it’s just kind of beat up a little bit.
Were you wearing a helmet? What kind of pain are you in?
No I was not wearing a helmet. I’m doing fine now. I was able to get out this morning around 11 or 11:30, somewhere in there, and the doctor said I could watch practice from the press box today, so fortunately I get to do that.
Will you wear a helmet in the future?
I probably will, yeah.
How did you get from the site of the accident to the hospital?
Well when I came out of the ditch there was a lady there that had flagged down a car. The guy that was in the passenger’s seat said, ‘get in, we’ll just take you right to the hospital instead of waiting,’ and so I got in the car and they headed towards Fayetteville. In the meantime on my cell phone I had a call from Lance King, so we set up a place to meet, and then he brought me to the hospital. The first call I made was to Doctor Arnold, to tell him I needed to get to the emergency room. He was actually in Fort Smith, but made all the arrangements for my arrival.
What hospital did you go to?
To Specialty Hospital.
Did the people that picked you up know who you were?
I didn’t feel like they did, no. They didn’t talk like they did.
Did you lose consciousness?
I don’t think I lost consciousness. I know when I was trying to get from the ground to my feet it was hard seeing, and I was definitely dinged a little bit.
What will you do at practice?
I’m going to observe just like I would if I was on the field for certain parts of practice. I’ll have a walkie-talkie up there in case I need to relay anything through Andy Wagner or Mark Robinson, but pretty much Paul (Petrino) and Paul Haynes and Taver Johnson have spent the last couple days preparing for the practice, so they’ll go out there and run it.
Is there a timetable for your full return?
Oh I’ll be back, yeah. I’ll be up early tomorrow.
Why would you come back so quickly?
Because I love coaching and love watching us practice, and I want to see our players improve. I met with our team right before we left, and I said the number one thing we have to do as a football team this week is get better. Get better on an individual basis, being able to carry your technique over from individual drills to group drills to team drills, and we have to get tougher mentally. The last week’s practices were hard, because I’m not sure we’ve ever had heat like this in the month of (April), so it challenged them with their conditioning and their mental toughness. So I want to see improvement from last week to this week in that area because it’s still going to be hot and sunny out there.
Are you confident in your staff and the team?
I’m very confident. I love our staff, I think they’ve done an excellent job. It’s kind of ironic that both Paul’s came in together to get ready for the bowl game. I have complete confidence that any time I step out of the room that they’re running it just like it should be ran. I got here probably around 2:20, had a short meeting with Jon Fagg, and went around to all the meeting rooms, and everybody’s in their meeting room getting after it, getting ready for practice.
What are your current limitations?
Well I probably wouldn’t swing the golf club very well. I don’t know yet. I just was able to get the doctors to say I could come and watch practice from the press box, and we’ll just go on day to day. I’ll meet with them after practice.
How long will you wear the neck brace?
It’d be one to two weeks. At first he set up an appointment for two weeks, and then he said, ‘well let’s bring you in Monday and see where you’re at at that point.’
Is this the first spill like this you’ve had on a bike?
Do you have any rules for players regarding motorcycles?
We don’t, I talk to them all the time. I have a number of guys that have motorcycles, and then of course probably 60 percent of our team uses scooters to get from class to class, so it’s something worth talking about, that’s for sure.
How has the fan support been?
I’m excited for the way our fans have shown their support. That’s humbling too, that we have great fan support. I’m excited about it, and I appreciate everything they’ve done.
Do you feel like yourself mentally?
Yeah, I don’t think I have any brain damage, but that’s yet to be seen. If I start not punting at all in the games or something, then we’ve got a problem. But I feel great. I feel really alert. I was able to go through all our grades last night from our previous scrimmage. Paul brought them up to me so I was able to go through everything last night and help with the practice schedule with him at the hospital. So I feel great.
Are you on any medications?
Yeah, they have me on some pain medication.
Did you watch film in the hospital?
No, we went through the practice schedule.
What would you say to motorcycle enthusiasts?
I think you just really have to know what you’re doing, know the weight of the bike. I thought I did, obviously I made a mistake when I was driving, and I will wear a helmet from now on.
What caused the crash?
I didn’t feel like I was speeding. I felt like I was going the same speed that I did when I maneuvered through those turns going that way. The last thing I remember was looking up at the sun and saying, ‘oh I’m going to have the sun in my eyes the whole way back.’ And then there was a gust of wind that came up. Whether that did it, I don’t know.
Were you given a blood alcohol test?
I was given blood tests, but I absolutely had nothing to drink. I spent the day at the lake with my wife working. She works me hard when I’m up there. But I absolutely had no alcohol in my system.
The Razorbacks returned to practice Tuesday afternoon.