Holmes hasn’t hung them up


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Jan 22, 2006
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Holmes hasn’t hung them up
After keeping his intentions to himself, Chiefs running back said he wants to play football again.
The Kansas City Star

The ghost showed up late Monday afternoon, and a pile of kids surrounded him, touched him and chanted.

Word was that Priest Holmes hadn’t been keeping his normal workout routine — he’s ripped enough to bench-press Herm Edwards — and that his neck injury surely means he’ll never play football again.

But that’s what being a mystery man is all about. Keeping people guessing. Seven months after Holmes’ helmet-to-helmet collision, five months after his starting job was given to Larry Johnson, Holmes said Monday that he still wants to play football.

“Why wouldn’t I?” he said. “It’s one thing that’s been engrained in me. I know exactly what to do. I’m a professional, so I could actually go out there with no practice at all and still be able to mentally be ready to go play.

“Now will I make a mistake? Yes, because I’ll be rusty. (I) haven’t been practicing … But being a professional, I could go back out there and score touchdowns.”

Holmes, a Pro Bowl running back who has always shunned the spotlight, has been particularly elusive this offseason. He went on injured reserve in November and then retreated to his home in San Antonio while the locals speculated on his future. Holmes, who was in the area Monday for the Offense-Defense Sports camp at Central Missouri State, has been seeing spinal specialist Robert Watkins.

Holmes said he still hasn’t been cleared for contact and he’s left it in his doctors’ hands to decide when he’ll be ready to play. Asked whether his final evaluation will happen before training camp next month, Holmes said he didn’t know.

Asked whether the doctors could conclude that he’d never play again, he said, “Ultimately, I believe at the end of the day, it is my final say, my final decision. Will I take what they say to heart and really think about it? I will once the time comes.

“I feel great. Now medically, what I’ve been told is that I need to wait and not make a quick decision based on the excitement and feeling as though I feel great and I can get out there.”

Holmes will be 33 in October, he’s been to three Pro Bowls, and holds the franchise’s career rushing record. But he said Monday that there are still some things to accomplish. He played on a Super Bowl championship team in Baltimore but had just four carries in that game for 8 yards.

He was always considered “the other guy” until he came to Kansas City and broke an NFL record for most touchdowns in a three-year span. He said he isn’t frustrated that his career is in limbo.

“Not at all,” he said. “You have to remember how I came up. I was never one who was just handed the starting position. I was never one just told, ‘Here’s a contract, go run with it and show us later.’ I was the one who had to show first and then was rewarded. For me to be in limbo right now, that’s something I’ve been prepared for.”

Johnson had a Pro Bowl season when Holmes went down, but the Chiefs are eagerly anticipating a final doctors’ decision. Coach Herm Edwards plans to run more this year and has said repeatedly that Johnson can’t carry the entire load.

His healthy backups currently consist of little-used Dee Brown and former Broncos running back Quentin Griffin. Rookie free agent Derrick Ross, from Tarleton State, has also shown promise but is considered a raw prospect.

The Chiefs also have been talking to Saints running back Michael Bennett.

“There’s nothing a coach would rather do than to make sure he has someone plugged in to be able to carry that torch,” Holmes said.

Holmes has been trying to keep the same routine he’s had since 1998. He’s working out at home, catching up with his family, riding his motorcycle, and doing camps.

He held hands with a group of kids late Monday and reminded them that size and speed aren’t everything. Holmes was considered too small to play in the NFL, and certainly wasn’t on anyone’s hot list. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent.

“Are you ready?” he shouted to the kids.

He was so excited he dropped his car keys in the pile. He yelled, “Let’s go, team.”

Holmes plans to meet with the team while he’s in the area. There are plenty of new faces, and he said that excites him.

“It doesn’t change,” he said. “The only thing (different) right now is I’m not putting on any pads.”

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