Jamal Lewis' career likely over; NFL responds to rash of concussions
After being placed on injured reserve Wednesday due to a concussion suffered Sunday in Cincinnati, it is extremely likely Cleveland running back Jamal Lewis has played his last down in the NFL.
The 30-year old Lewis, who became just the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season in 2003 (his 2,066 yards are second only to Eric Dickerson), had announced earlier this year that this would be his last NFL season.
Lewis will retire as the 21st leading rusher in league history with 10,607 yards in 131 games. He had seven 1,000-yard seasons iin nine years as a pro, including the last three, but made just one Pro Bowl, in 2003.
Before the 2005 season, Lewis spent four months in prison on drug conspiracy chargers. That fall he rushed for 906 yards, which was his career low until this year.
The University of Tennessee product was the fifth overall selection in the 2000 draft, and won a Super Bowl in his rookie season with the Ravens. He played his first six seasons in Baltimore before coming to Cleveland in 2007.
An MRI earlier this week showed Lewis to have "brain abnormalities," according to a souce to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which are likely the result of excessive trauma from a blow to the head. The severity of the injury wasn't known until Wednesday evening, as coach Eric Mangini made no mention of it in his media sessions on Monday or Wednesday.
Mangini later sent out a statement saying, "After consulting with our medical team, we felt that this was in the best interests of both Jamal and [safety] Brodney [Pool, whose concussion on Sunday was the fourth of his career and also landed him on the IR] ... As I've said before, organizationally, players' health and safety are paramount in any decision we make with regards to putting them back on the field.
"Jamal has been an integral part of this team and he has exhibited a great work ethic. He worked hard, studied hard and set a good example for the younger running backs"
The news about Lewis comes in the wake of a rash of concussions — notably to Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and DeSean Jackson — which have led to a response by the league.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams on Wednesday stating that a player who suffers a concussion should not return to action if he shows certain signs or symptoms, including memory loss, failure to remember assignments or plays and persistent dizziness or headaches. (In 2007, the guideline stated a player should not return to action if he lost consciousness.)
Goodell also encourages players to be honest with medical staffs about their symptoms (Warner said he was tempted to lie about his condition to return to the field sooner). And teams were forced to find independent neurologists to be consulted on concussions.
(*My Thursday night pick: BILLS (+3) over Jets at Rogers Centre in Toronto.)