Priest Holmes Ends Brief Comeback, Retires From NFL

Wednesday, November 21st 2007, 2:49 pm
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Priest Holmes retired on Wednesday, ending a short comeback hailed as one of the most improbable in NFL history.

The 34-year-old three-time Pro Bowl running back said he experienced ``symptoms'' during last Sunday's game in Indianapolis similar to those he felt more than two years ago when head and neck injuries put him out of the game for 22 months.

He refused to be specific. Holmes did mention during an often rambling series of answers that paralysis had been a possibility if he kept playing.

Asked to explain what symptoms he felt, Holmes was evasive.

``Much of that is, I guess you could say, in the past,'' he said. ``Just to know the symptoms were similar to the ones before. But to be technical, to go into medical terms, I wouldn't feel comfortable.''

Chiefs president Carl Peterson appeared with Holmes and his three young sons at a news conference. Peterson said Holmes had an agreement with the club that he would alert the Chiefs the moment he felt any danger of recurring injury to the head or neck.

``That was our agreement,'' he said, ``that if that ever happens, to whatever degree, we needed to know about it. And he adhered to that and was great about it.''

Holmes was out of football for 22 months, but showed up in the Chiefs' training camp in July saying he had seen himself in a dream playing football.

Working hard to get back in shape, he started the last two games in place of Larry Johnson, who will be out again this week with a foot injury. Kolby Smith, a rookie who has only a few carries this year, will likely start for the Chiefs (4-6) against Oakland.

The team announced Holmes' retirement in a statement before the planned news conference.

Holmes is the Chiefs' all-time rushing leader with 6,070 yards and accumulated 8,172 yards rushing in 11 seasons with Baltimore and Kansas City.

``I have truly been blessed with the opportunity to play in the National Football League,'' he said. ``I will be forever grateful to the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization for the opportunity to come to Kansas City, where the community embraced me from Day 1.''

Holmes was the 2002 Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,615 yards in just 14 games in 2002. In one season, he set a then-NFL record with 27 touchdowns. The mark has since been broken twice.

After taking himself out of the game last Sunday against the Colts in the third quarter, Holmes went back in for a few plays.

``As much as we try to do everything we could to prepare me, there's just one thing that seems like we couldn't technically prepare for,'' Holmes said.

``Now that we've seen that, now that I've had some symptoms, there's nothing really the helmet can do to provide that protection and to allow me to do my job effectively. And we all know this is a business of performance.

``I believe that by having this opportunity for a younger player or even a newer player to come in and provide that production, that's definitely needed for the Kansas City Chiefs at any position.''