Pittsburgh Super Bowl champ Ben Roethlisberger was severely hurt in a motorcycle accident Monday

By Todd Peterson
June 12, 2006 04:30 PM

Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback ever to lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl championship, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident near downtown Pittsburgh on Monday.

Roethlisberger, 24, was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he was undergoing surgery, the Associated Press reports. The extent of his injuries was not known.

Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma at the hospital, said he spoke to Roethlisberger before the athlete went into surgery. Roethlisberger was coherent and aware of what had happened, Dr. Jones said. “From that standpoint, he’s very stable.”

The accident occurred at an intersection near the downtown area shortly before noon. A Chrysler New Yorker with damage to the front passenger side was removed from the scene, as was Roethlisberger’s motorcycle.

A police spokesman said the crash was under investigation, but did not say whether anyone else was injured.

Roethlisberger has previously drawn criticism for riding his motorcycle without a helmet. Pennsylvania repealed its statewide mandatory helmet law in 2003, and Roethlisberger has said that he prefers to ride without one.

It wasn’t clear whether Roethlisberger was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher had warned Roethlisberger of the dangers of doing so after a player for the Cleveland Browns was hurt in May 2005.

Roethlisberger led the Steelers to victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL in February. He was just 23 at the time.