Originally created 06/14/06

Roethlisberger upgraded to fair



PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could be out of the hospital in a few days and appears likely to play this season after a bloody motorcycle accident in which his helmetless head shattered a car windshield.

The Steelers' Super Bowl-winning quarterback was upgraded to fair condition at Mercy Hospital on Tuesday, a day after the scary accident at a busy Pittsburgh intersection left him and his team shaken.

Despite being tossed high into the air after his made-for-speed motorcycle rammed into a car, causing him to smack his head on the car's windshield, Roethlisberger escaped career-threatening injuries.

Doctors did not discuss Roethlisberger's condition in detail, at the request of his family, but the quarterback's only major injuries were to his face: a broken upper and lower jaw, a loss of two teeth, a broken nose, broken facial bones and various cuts and bruises.

Jaw injuries can vary greatly in nature and, because of the rather limited protection provided by a football helmet, have the potential to sideline a player for a lengthy period. But the surgeons who operated on Roethlisberger for seven hours Monday said all of his fractures were successfully repaired.

If that is the case, then Roethlisberger might miss part or most of training camp but could be ready for the Sept. 7 opener against Miami. For the Steelers, who would otherwise go into the season with backup Charlie Batch and rookie Omar Jacobs at quarterback, that is the best possible scenario after an accident that left huge splotches of Roethlisberger's dried blood on a city street.

Dr. Larry Jones, the chief of Mercy Hospital's trauma unit, said Roethlisberger's brain was functioning normally, although the QB has a concussion.

"He is awake, alert, oriented and is resting with his family by his side," Jones said during a news briefing, during which reporters were not allowed to ask questions.

The 24-year-old Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, was initially listed in serious but stable condition after the accident.

Nobody has been cited in the crash and police will not release information until an accident reconstruction is complete, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Tammy Ewin said.