Kris Dielman will risk health to win title
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Chargers left guard Kris Dielman, who missed the final 10 games of the season with a concussion, said Monday that he's willing to risk his health in pursuit of winning a Super Bowl ring.
"Yeah, I think so," Dielman said Monday in his first comments about his injury, which caused the NFL to announce it would give game officials "concussion awareness training" so they could keep an eye out for players.
"I've got some other people who probably wouldn't agree," said Dielman, who added that ultimately it will be his decision whether he returns or retires.
Dielman, a four-time Pro Bowler who's the father of two young boys, said the lure of winning a championship is strong.
"I would love a ring. That's what I've been playing for since I got in," said Dielman, who joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie in 2003. "That was my goal, my first year, was to make the team, then to make the practice squad, then to get on the 53 (man roster). The Super Bowl ultimately was the end one. And that's what everybody's fighting for."
Dielman's comments came a day after the Chargers' season ended. Because he hadn't been cleared to play due to the concussion, he had been off-limits to reporters.
The 320-pound Dielman was staggered by the injury early in the fourth quarter against the Jets on Oct. 23, but continued to play because the Chargers were out of offensive linemen due to other injuries. The team didn't diagnose his condition until after the game. Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure on the flight home. An ambulance met the team plane and Dielman was hospitalized overnight.
"This was definitely a scare," said Dielman, known for his hard-nosed, blue-collar demeanor. "Waking up in the hospital with my wife standing over me, that was pretty scary. I don't scare easy, but that was something different."
He eventually was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
"Actually, I wanted to be put on. It was a mutual decision between both of us," Dielman said, referring to coach Norv Turner. "Me and Norv talked extensively about it and we made the right decision."
Dielman said he wanted to go on IR because of how he felt.
"There's a lot of unknown," he said.
Other than having a cold, he said he feels fine now.
Ten days after Dielman was hurt, the league's injury and safety panel told game officials to watch closely for concussion symptoms in players. Officials were told that if they believed a player had sustained a concussion, they were to take appropriate steps to alert the team and get medical attention for the player.
Asked if he'd be more cognizant about a possible concussion and would pull himself out of a game, Dielman said: "Apparently, I won't do that. That's the scary part, too. I'll play through just about anything and I've played through this one and it got me. I've made my whole career doing dumb (stuff) like that."
Dielman said he doesn't remember the hit that hurt him.
"It looks like I'm drunk," he said. "Deal with it. That's how I got here, doing stupid (stuff) on the football field. It got me 10 years in, so I'm all right with that."
As an unrestricted free agent after the 2006 season, Dielman left about $10 million on the table in Seattle and accepted a six-year deal worth $39 million to remain with the Chargers.
Dielman said he'll speak with his family and doctors before deciding on his future.
"If I didn't have kids and a family, the decision would be much easier. I probably would have been playing again this year," he said.
"It's not just me. I have two little boys and a wife. I have to make sure everything's all right with me and I have to see some doctors still and make a decision from there. Whenever I choose, I'm not going to do anything to hurt the organization. It's only a day after the season's over. I'm not making any decisions yet."
Dielman said it was difficult to watch the Chargers miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
He reiterated what could bring him back.
"No ring. I've only got a wedding ring," he said. "I've done the Pro Bowls, I've done the contract. I want a Super Bowl. I'm no different than anybody else in San Diego that's (complaining) and moaning about not being in the Super Bowl. Trust me; we want to be in the Super Bowl, too. It's not an easy league."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press