A somber Michael Irvin, still haunted by the memory of being temporarily paralyzed after injuring his neck, is considering giving up football.
Although he never used the word "retire," the Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver paused, swallowed hard, clenched his teeth and said:
"When you go through something like this, there's no way you can say that you won't think, 'Hey, that's it. I'm not playing again.'
"That's the initial reaction. Then, after you calm down, you kind of weigh it to yourself and see what happens, see what the doctor says and see what everyone else says. That's kind of where I'm at right now."
The 33-year-old Irvin, who is in his 12th season, said he's in no hurry to assess his future this soon after being injured in Sunday's 13-10 loss to Philadelphia. He spoke softly, slowly and without his usual verve. There was redness in his eyes and cracking in his voice as he described how he felt being dazed.
Irvin, who is wearing a neck brace, understands he's lucky to have only a swollen spinal cord and a herniated disk. He also has wondered whether he would be as lucky next time--if there is a next time.
"When I was in the hospital, I thought, 'What if it was worse?' But, you know, it kind of goes back to that's the risk you take every time you step on the field," Irvin said. "I'm not trying to make light of it--especially not now--but it's quite a risk. I know that now."