Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels tells Redskins officials that he will not return after neck injury

"He's making the right decision," Casey Rabach said of Chris Samuels, above. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo     Buy Photo
By Jason Reid
Saturday, October 24, 2009

After learning he could become paralyzed if he continued to play football, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels has told people in the organization he will sit out the remainder of the season and plans to retire.

Samuels, who suffered a serious neck injury about two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers, reached his decisions after consulting with many specialists, several of whom warned him about the possibility of no longer being able to walk if he attempted to prolong his career, league sources said.

However, a source close to Samuels, 32, said he would not make a final determination on retirement until December or January -- and would withhold a public announcement until that time.

"I will continue to seek medical advice. I hope to see where I am physically over the next couple months," Samuels said in a statement released by the Redskins Friday. "At this time, I have not made a decision, but I love playing for the Redskins and hope to be back."

The 10-year veteran, who traveled to California earlier in the week to seek another medical opinion about his situation, appeared at Redskins Park on Friday to take a team picture. Samuels did not speak with reporters, and Coach Jim Zorn said he had no update on Samuels's status.

"I haven't talked to him," Zorn said. "I don't know any more quite yet."

The Redskins have been aware for some time that Samuels would not play again this season and would strongly consider retirement because of the long-term health risks he faced. Prompted in part by the realization that their ineffective line would be without its anchor for the final 10 games, the Redskins signed free agent tackle Levi Jones on Tuesday.

Although Samuels's 2008 season was cut short because of a triceps injury and he underwent triceps and knee surgeries in the offseason, teammates said the news that Samuels would not take the field again this season and the understanding that he probably has played his last game came as a blow.

The Redskins have struggled during a disappointing 2-4 start, have also lost starting right guard Randy Thomas for the season and have dealt with the uncertainty of Zorn's job status.

"It is kind of a blow to the team," center Casey Rabach said in a phone interview. "A lot of the talk in the offseason was about the health of the offensive line, and to see Randy go down and now Chris, it's frustrating and it's tough.

"Hopefully, we'll get Randy back next season, but with Chris, he obviously meant a lot to the team. Selfishly, it's frustrating for me to see him go, but he's making the right decision. He's young, he's got a lot of life left, and this is nothing to mess around with."

Quarterback Jason Campbell considers Samuels among his closest friends on the team. Campbell encouraged Samuels to get as many opinions as possible before making a decision, and Campbell would rather not see Samuels risk permanent damage.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company