Published: Thursday, November 22, 2007
Chiefs' Holmes knew it was time to step away
The former Pro Bowl
running back could feel
the symptoms returning.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) What drove Priest Holmes out of the NFL is something most football players try to drive out of their thoughts.
They know it's a dangerous, violent endeavor that can leave them unable to walk. Holmes, after making one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL history, decided that as much as he loves the game, it wasn't worth the risk of a paralysis.
So the former Pro Bowl running back retired on Wednesday, thanking the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL for all they had done.
"I had to look at the situation for what it is," he said, flanked by Kansas City Chiefs president Carl Peterson on one side and his three young sons on the other.
He had been out of the game for 22 months after sustaining head and neck injuries in a game in 2005. Then he called Peterson in June and told him he wanted to try a comeback.
He made it, too, after working so hard he earned the admiration of everyone who was watching. He made two starts in place of injured Larry Johnson the past two weeks. But last Sunday during a game at Indianapolis, he began to feel certain symptoms that doctors had warned him to watch for.
He refused to be specific, but during an often rambling series of answers said paralysis had been a possibility if he kept playing.
"Much of that is, I guess you could say, in the past," he said. "Just to know the symptoms were similar to the ones before. But to be technical, to go into medical terms, I wouldn't feel comfortable."
His teammates seemed unanimous in their respect for the man who holds team career records for yards rushing.
"It's probably the best decision that he could make for himself, for the rest of his life and for his family," said wide receiver Eddie Kennison.
"I try not to think about the dangers of the game. I understand what they are. I know they're there. And no man really wants to go out of the game with an injury. But we chose this job to take those risks. That's just part of it."
Tight end Tony Gonzalez had teamed with Holmes a few years ago when they were part of one of the NFL's most explosive offenses.
"I told him my thoughts are with him and what an unbelievable career he's had," Gonzalez said. "But you've got to be smart about this thing. Football is not the end-all, be-all. There's definitely life after football. Priest is a guy who's prepared himself for it."
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