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Izzo not ready to call it a career -- yet

12/16/2009

While the career prognosis for New York Jets head-knocker Larry Izzo looks grim, he's not ready to make any decisions on whether he'll retire or try to play a 15th season.

The Jets last week placed Izzo on injured reserve with a herniated disc in his neck. Jets head coach Rex Ryan, special-team coordinator Mike Westhoff and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine each delivered somber reactions on Izzo's football future.

It may seem Izzo is destined to retire after a remarkable career, but he's not ready to reach a conclusion.

"There were reports related to a 'career-threatening' injury," Izzo wrote in a text message, "and as realistic as I am about what point I'm at in my career and the nature of this sort of injury, I'm reluctant to make long-term decisions at this point."

Izzo signed a one-year contract with the Jets. He would turn 36 next season.

The Jets said he'd complained of what he thought were stingers, common and generally insignificant football injuries that lead to temporary numbness in the extremities. But an MRI revealed something much more hazardous.

Ryan said the injury would require surgery if Izzo wanted to play again.

"I was surprised to learn that after playing 14 years in the NFL and possessing a vast knowledge of the capabilities and limits of the human body," Izzo wrote, "I am still not considered a doctor and not licensed to practice medicine -- at least not in this country.

"Having said that, I have to base all of my decisions for my future on what the doctors and spine specialist tell me. With the MRI showing a herniated disc in my neck, combined with the significant symptoms I was experiencing, they felt that to minimize the severity of the issue, you never want to mess around with this sort of injury to the neck with what players are required to do on the field."

Izzo has gotten amazing mileage out of a body that wasn't good enough to get drafted or start a single NFL game. Izzo went to three Pro Bowls for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots as a special-teamer. He was a captain every year with the Patriots, going to four Super Bowls and winning three.

He said will reevaluate his situation when he revisits his specialist at the end of the month.

"At some point, there will be a time for me to reflect back on the last 14 years," Izzo said. "But right now I'm just focused on getting this neck healthy."