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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cutis Martin's Out - Injury Career Ending - ESPN

A sad end to a great career. Very different from Tiki Barber, who's ready to get out. What will Marin do with the rest of his life?

Martin out for 2006, unsure he'll ever play again
Assocaited Press

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Curtis Martin's season ended Wednesday because of a lingering knee injury, and the New York Jets' star running back isn't sure if he'll ever play again.

"I'm officially not playing this year," Martin said. "Retirement -- that may be the inevitable result. I just haven't gotten there yet."

The Jets placed the 33-year-old Martin on the reserved physically-unable-to perform list with a bone-on-bone condition in his right knee, ending his season before it ever got started and throwing his career in doubt.

"I think this is as good as my knee gets, where it is right now," Martin said.

He's not sure when -- or if -- he'll get back on the field, but said he isn't even thinking about that at this point.

"I don't know if it's even possible," Martin said, keeping his composure throughout the nearly half-hour news conference. "It hasn't been possible up to this point, so I'm not looking forward to saying I'll definitely be back next year. It's a long stretch, I'll put it that way. And that's the most honest answer I can give you."

Martin spoke with coach Eric Mangini on Tuesday night, and the NFL's No. 4 career rusher said he didn't think he'd be ready to practice next week -- the team's deadline for a decision on his availability this season.

"I sat in Eric's office and I said, 'Eric, you know what? I just need one last conversation with the doctors.' I said, 'I even know. I know what they're going to say and I know what the outcome is, but for some reason I just wanted that last conversation."

Martin, who said he's in game shape and at his playing weight, never got that final conversation, instead talking with general manager Mike Tannenbaum and deciding Wednesday was the day to end months of speculation.

He had one last request: "I had somebody actually ask Mike, 'When we turn in the papers for me that say I can't play anymore, I want to push the button."'

Mangini said Martin will still attend meetings and work with the team.

"I think his heart was saying one thing and, unfortunately, the injury was saying something else," Mangini said.

Martin said he injured the knee in Week 2 of 2005 when he took a hit from Miami's Zach Thomas and aggravated it two games later against Baltimore. Martin said the knee became a "bone-on-bone" situation when the damaged cartilage was removed during surgery in December.

"This is something beyond my threshold of pain," said Martin, who often played through injuries throughout his first 11 seasons.

Martin said doctors gave him a very clear indication of the severity of this injury.

"If I don't play, they're saying I have a chance to have a normal life," Martin said. "But if I do play, I can jeopardize that."

Martin said he can run fine, but it's making the cuts and turns that helped make him a star that worries him.

"I'm an instinctive guy, I'm an instinctive runner, and once I get out there, just like any other time that I've been in pain, the pain is not going to matter," he said. "But what I do instinctively, I'm equipped with the information to know that's probably going to jeopardize my future as a human being."

Mangini did not rule out Martin playing again next season. When asked if he would be willing to go through a similar situation next year with uncertainty surrounding Martin's availability, Mangini said, "For Curtis Martin, yes."

Martin, who has rushed for 14,101 yards, last year played in 12 games before ending his year. He underwent surgery in December, but was slow to recover. He was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list before training camp so he could rehabilitate the knee.

The five-time Pro Bowl player was eligible to come off the PUP list Oct. 16, but the team announced he'd remain on it until after the game at Cleveland last Sunday.

On Monday, Mangini said he spoke with Martin, Tannenbaum and the Jets' medical staff last week. They chose to hold off until next week on whether Martin would rejoin the team and practice.

Mangini reiterated that on Tuesday, but said things changed after talking with Martin on Tuesday night.

"I usually deal with things the way they are now, and with the information that I know about my future, it doesn't look like it's too bright as far as me having a further career," Martin said. "And if that happens, great."

Shawne Merriman Drops Appeal; Suspended Four Games - ESPN

I saw his press conference on The NFL Network, and I give him high praise for being forthcoming and honest. A great example of what to do in such a scenario.

Merriman drops appeal, will serve suspension
ESPN.com news services

Shawne Merriman made the right move in dropping his appeal of his four-game suspension for a steroid product found in a supplement.

The Chargers linebacker could have gone to a hearing next Tuesday in New York but he had little chance of winning. Players who test positive for a tainted supplement rarely win. Knowing that, it was a matter of figuring out the right time to fit in the four-game suspension.

Merriman, who's tied for the NFL lead with 8 1/2 sacks, and his attorney have blamed a tainted supplement for the player's positive test for the steroid nandrolone. Merriman couldn't be reached for comment.

The suspension won't officially begin until after Merriman addresses his teammates on Wednesday. After that, he'll be barred from the team's headquarters until he's eligible to return on Nov. 27.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Merriman had sought a deal with the league that would allow him to address his teammates on Wednesday before his suspension took effect, and the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that request was granted. Under NFL rules, suspended players are banned from their team facilities.

The Chargers, who were off Tuesday, vowed to press on without Merriman, a Pro Bowl starter who was voted the 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"He's upset because he let his team down, but we're OK," outside linebacker Shaun Phillips said in a phone interview. "We're behind him 100 percent. We know he's not that kind of guy, that he wouldn't do anything to boost his performance.

"We're a good team. We'll get over it," said Phillips, who moved into the starting lineup after Steve Foley was shot by an off-duty police officer on Sept. 3. Phillips missed Sunday's 38-24 win over the St. Louis Rams with a calf injury and has only a 50 percent chance of playing against the Browns.
Had Merriman gone through with the appeal and lost, there was the chance he'd miss both games against Denver. The Chargers host the Broncos on Dec. 10. Few people expected Merriman to win on appeal because the NFL holds players accountable for knowing the contents of the supplements they take.

Word of Merriman's positive test leaked on Oct. 22. Merriman announced last Tuesday he was appealing, and matched his career-high with three sacks against the Rams. He celebrated each as he usually does, by pretending to flip a switch tattooed on his forearm followed by a spasmodic dance.

Carlos Polk, who missed most of the last two seasons due to injuries, is expected to start in Merriman's place. Polk has no starts and one sack in six seasons..

"We're obviously going to support Shawne and we'll prepare for the alternatives much the way we would if we had a player who wasn't available for other reasons," coach Marty Schottenheimer said by phone. "We'll put the pieces together and go back to work."

Merriman apologized to his teammates last Monday for the distraction his positive test caused. But Schottenheimer and other players said it would be a distraction only if they let it.

"The way we performed with this information out there would indicate it was not a distraction," Schottenheimer said.

While Phillips is expected to be listed as questionable for the Browns game, end Igor Olshansky (knee) is expected to be doubtful due to a knee injury.

General manager A.J. Smith and Merriman's attorney, David Cornwell, didn't return calls seeking comment.

The team released this statement:

"We're proud of the standup way Shawne has taken responsibility for the mistake he made. We have faith in Shawne Merriman and we have faith in the players on this team. The Chargers have been resilient all season long, and we will continue to be resilient. It's a tough lesson learned for Shawne about the world of supplements."

Besides Merriman's suspension, the Chargers have had five separate off-field issues dating back to April.

Foley was shot three times near his suburban home early on Sept. 3 by an off-duty police officer who suspected him of drunk driving. Foley will miss the entire season and was charged with two counts of DUI.

Safety Terrence Kiel was arrested on five felony drug counts in September and has pleaded not . He missed one game.

Cornerback Markus Curry, who had been demoted to the practice squad, was released on Oct. 9, just hours after he was arrested on suspicion of committing domestic violence.

Foley and Phillips were each arrested for scuffling with San Diego police officers a week apart in April. Neither was charged.

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