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 and underwent surgery.
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."
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, citing a police source, reported Roethlisberger also broke his left sinus cavity, suffered a 9-inch laceration to the back of his head, lost teeth and has knee injuries from hitting the pavement. A plastic surgeon has been called in, the source said.
Steelers president Art Rooney said the team was "encouraged by the early reports from the medical team" at the hospital.
"I am sure Ben knows that we are praying for his complete recovery," he said.
The 24-year-old Roethlisberger was without a helmet, police said. He has said he likes to ride without one, a habit that once prompted a lecture from Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher.
Roethlisberger's contract does not have a specific clause regarding riding a motorcycle, Clayton confirmed.
Roethlisberger was between radio interviews and on his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa -- a large, racing-style bike -- and heading toward an intersection on the edge of downtown. A silver Chrysler New Yorker traveling in the opposite direction took a left turn and collided with the motorcycle, and Roethlisberger was thrown, police said.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Roethlisberger wasn't wearing a helmet. The Associated Press reported it wasn't clear whether he was wearing a helmet or not.
The crash happened at an intersection at the edge of downtown at about 11:30 a.m. A pool of blood was still visible there by early afternoon.
Police spokesman Lt. Kevin Kraus said police and homicide units were investigating the crash, something standard when there is an accident with critical injuries. Kraus would give no details on the extent of Roethlisberger's injuries or if anyone else was injured.
The accident occurred on Second Avenue near the intersection of 10th Street in Pittsburgh, around 11:30 a.m. The route is one often taken in traveling to the Steelers' facility in the Southside section of the city.
Several teammates, including backup quarterback Charlie Batch, linebacker Joey Porter and safety Mike Logan, arrived at the hospital emergency room but did not comment.
A silver Chrysler New Yorker with damage to the front passenger fender was removed and Roethlisberger's bike was loaded onto a flatbed truck. Police were detouring traffic around the crash scene as onlookers and media gathered.
One of his agents, Ryan Tollner, is in route to Pittsburgh for what was supposed to be a pre-planned trip and will arrive later Monday.
In only his second year in the NFL, Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship. He was 23 when he did it last February.
Roethlisberger has said in the past that he prefers not to wear a helmet. He has pointed out Pennsylvania's 35-year-old state law requiring helmets to be worn was amended to make helmets optional.
In May 2005, Cowher warned him about safe riding after Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured in a motorcycle accident. Winslow tore knee ligaments and was lost for the season.
"He talked about being a risk-taker and I'm not really a risk-taker. I'm pretty conservative and laid back, but the big thing is to just be careful," Roethlisberger said at the time. "I'll just continue to be careful. I told him we don't ever ride alone, we always ride in a group of people, and I think it makes it even more safe."
Roethlisberger continued to ride after Winslow's accident and that angered Terry Bradshaw, who quarterbacked the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories during the 1970s.
Visiting the Steelers' training camp last summer, Bradshaw remarked: "Ride it when you retire."