PITTSBURGH - A crowd estimated at over fifty thousand people gathered in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital last night to pray, sing songs, and celebrate the life of their ailing quarterback. A solitary light remained shining in Mr. Roethlisberger’s room throughout the evening, offering a poignant reminder to the grieving masses that Mr. Roethlisberger, though in frail health, remained alive. At one point, however, the light went out, and a great cry arose from the crowd. And then, the light flickered on again, causing a sigh of relief. When the light went out once more, the people began to get restless. It was then that Jerome Bettis came to the window wearing a wide grin. The beloved leader and inveterate prankster revealed himself to be the person responsible for the practical joke.

Many fans were observed clutching cardboard cut-outs of Mr. Roethlisberger. Still others were seen holding containers of Big Ben Barbecue Sauce, gently stroking the image of his face that appears on the bottle.

A children’s choir arrived just after sunset and performed a variety of inspirational numbers, including the “Steelers Victory Polka” and “Here We Go.” Officials at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport said that traffic has gone “through the roof” since Roethlisberger’s accident, as pilgrims from around the world rush to enter the city in a desperate attempt to pay their respects to their spiritual leader before it’s too late.

A spokesman for Mr. Roethlisberger said that he harbored no ill-will toward the woman accused of trying to assassinate him, and he expected, at some point, that Mr. Roethlisberger would visit the woman responsible for his injuries in prison to forgive her, providing the mob doesn’t get to her first.