Alstott on IR with new neck injury
But Alstott stopped short of saying that the injury could end his 12-year career with the Bucs.
Alstott, 33, had a compressed disc removed and replaced with the vertebrae from a cadaver in 2003. A titanium plate was used to fuse it together.
Alstott said a battery of tests revealed there is stress to his neck above the previously injured area. Pittsburgh nuerosurgeon Dr. Joe Maroon, who performed Alstott's first surgery, advised him not to play.
"I was ready to play football this year,'' Alstott said fighting tears. "I was ready to play football. and my mind was set on playing this game and helping this team and doing what I had to do. It's not like I went out there and the body wasn't working for me. Camp was going great, the team was doing great. I was playing well.
"But some things in life don't allow you do things sometimes.''
Alstott said his body suffered the usual soreness after 10 days of training camp. But he experienced pain in his neck that wouldn't subside. He missed three days of practice before the team called a 2 p.m. news conference Thursday.
"There wasn't just one particular situation,'' Alstott said. "Just soreness through the whole body and fighting through it. But the rest of the body wasn't as sore as the neck was ... we got further tests and here it is right now.''
After consulting with team trainers, doctors, his family, general manager Bruce Allen and coach Jon Gruden, Alstott agreed the best course of action was for him to be placed on injured reserve. Alstott said further surgery was not an option.
"Yesterday was the final straw, after I spoke with Dr. Maroon, my surgeon from Pittsburgh after we came to a conclusion of the whole situation,'' Alstott said.
However, the injury will likely end the career of the six-time Pro Bowl player.
In an emotional news conference that lasted about 25 minutes, Alstott steadfastly refused to discuss his future. He signed a one-year contract worth $1.5-million, meaning he will be a free agent at the end of the '07 season.
"I'm on I.R. for the rest of the year,'' Alstott said. "As far as what the future holds ... I know there will be questions and stuff, career-ending, what it may be. But please, understand there will be a further date, an announcement in those regards.
"The facts are the facts. I can't put on a helmet or a jersey this year. When you tell someone, or make the decision as a whole, it's just hard to grasp right now.''
Alstott said he plans to remain around the Bucs this season, offering his support to teammates.
"I guess one thing, you don't mess with the neck, huh?'' Alstott said. "There's always situations that can be worsened by playing.
"I can't. That's not a word in a professional athlete's vocabulary. When you have to make a decision and say something to that effect, it's emotional.''
Alstott has contemplated retirement at the end of each of the past two seasons before signing a series of one-year deals. But he insisted Thursday he's not prepared to consider whether the latest injury could end his career.
"It's maybe something that's a block in my mind right now and I don't want to think about that,'' Alsttot said. ""I've just got to cope with the situation at hand and focus on what we as a team have to get done. I'm being truthful here.
'I've been here for 12 years now. I'm telling you I wanted to play football this year. I was capable enough to play football and I was going to do everything in my power to help this team. And I can't. But I'm going to be here.''
(Times photo - Bill Serne. Click to enlarge.)