PITTSBURGH — Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship, broke his jaw and nose in a motorcycle crash Monday in which he was not wearing a helmet.Roethlisberger was in serious but stable condition Monday afternoon, said Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma at Mercy Hospital.
The player's agent, Leigh Steinberg, described the injuries to The Associated Press and said he did not know if there was further damage.
"He was talking to me before he left for the operating room," Jones said before the operation. "He's coherent. He's making sense. He knows what happened. He knows where he is. From that standpoint, he's very stable."
ESPN.com's John Clayton has confirmed that Roethlisberger also suffered a 9-inch laceration to the back of his head, has lost or chipped a number of teeth and has minor injuries to his knees from hitting the pavement. A plastic surgeon has been called in.
I agree with Captain Ed… (emphasis mine):
We're keeping Big Ben in our prayers. We're hoping that the injuries prove a meddlesome irritant and not a career ender, as Ben had shown tremendous promise and poise during his first two seasons with the Steelers. Hopefully he can return quickly and start the season in uniform for the Steelers. Perhaps he will also listen to Ben Cowher and suit up appropriately for his motorcylce rides in the future as well.
…but I also have some sterm criticism. Here's the first line of the story again, with emphasis added:
Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship, broke his jaw and nose in a motorcycle crash Monday in which he was not wearing a helmet.
Normally, pro athletes on major sports teams–especially athletes that are as valuable as Roethlisberger to an organization–have clauses in their contracts that bar them from this kind of tomfoolery, to protect the team's millions of investment dollars; someone breaking such a clause could find themselves out millions.
Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a foolish decision by itself. Riding such while you are a several million dollar athlete is far more foolish. And if the "barred from risky activity" clause exists, it could be costly financially to Roethlisberger.
Update: Dan Shanoff, who writes ESPN's The Daily Quickie, smacks Roethlisberger upside the…oh, never mind.