Redskins wide receiver Antwaan Randle El reacted with surprise and concern upon learning that his close friend and former teammate Ben Roethlisberger was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on Monday.
"It was a bit of a shock," Randle El said. "You never expect something like that to happen. You worry about whether he's all right and you worry about how his family is doing. You spend a lot of time praying."
Roethlisberger suffered injuries to his jaw and nose in the motorcycle crash in Pittsburgh. He was not wearing a helmet. Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of surgery at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Randle El and Roethlisberger, quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, were teammates the last two seasons. They both played key roles in helping the Steelers to a Super Bowl XL championship last February.
Randle El said he spoke with several of his former Pittsburgh teammates on Monday afternoon, including quarterback Charlie Batch. He also spoke with Bill Cowher, head coach of the Steelers.
"Nobody really knew what was going on [at the time], but as the day went on, we all started finding out more and more," Randle El said.
Randle El offered his thoughts and prayers to Roethlisberger and his family.
"I just encourage him to pray and believe that God is going to bless him, and to believe that despite all of the injuries he has, he can come out and be the same Ben he was before, if not better," Randle El said.
"That's what Ben and I always talked about: You pray, but you have to believe in your prayers. You have to believe that God is going to heal him and take care of him. This is a big thing. It's not just a broken ankle or anything like that. This is very serious and it could have been even worse."
Randle El last spoke with Roethlisberger on June 4 at the Steelers' Super Bowl ring ceremony at Heinz Field. He said he hoped to visit with Roethlisberger next week, after the Redskins' mini-camp on June 16-18.