Chargers place LB Foley on non-football injury list

Updated: September 5, 2006, 6:06 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The Chargers officially ended the season for starting outside linebacker Steve Foley by placing him on the non-football injury list Monday, a day after he was shot near his San Diego home by an off-duty police officer.

1st and 15
Jeremy Green
Jeremy Green of Scouts, Inc. talks about Steve Foley being put on the non football injury list with the Chargers and the Packers taking a look at Koren Robinson.

Listen to 1st and 15

By going on the non-football injury list, Foley will not be able to collect his $1.65 million salary this season, which consists of a $775,000 base and an $875,000 roster bonus. Players placed on the non-football injury list usually don't collect their salary because the injury isn't related to the football field.

This was a particularly tough decision for Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, who signed Foley in 2004 in what was the start of building one of the NFL's top and most feared 3-4 defenses. Foley, who turns 31 next Monday, has 29 starts as a Charger and is considered one of the leaders on the team.

Smith issued a brief statement Monday afternoon saying, "Steve's health needs to be his number one priority. Football is secondary now. Steve needs to focus on his recovery."

Foley remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday, according to his agent, David Levine, The Associated Press reported.

The Chargers general manager has been gathering medical information for the past 24 hours to determine Foley's status for the season.

Though the injuries weren't considered life threatening, Smith had to determine Foley's ability to play this season. He decided Monday afternoon that the season was over for a Chargers linebacker who had 14 sacks over the past two seasons.

"It's a personal matter," Smith told ESPN.com. "This is a personal matter for Steve Foley, his family and his attorney. They are handling the matter. They are the first ones who deal with us."

"I can't reveal all of that information except that I had enough information that I had to make a football decision," Smith told AP. "I had to ask, 'What's the timetable?' We felt in the best interest of him and the team, that he would be out of action for the year.

"Obviously this is a big blow," Smith continued. "It's a tragedy in itself, as far as the player is concerned. And it's a blow to our football team." San Diego has missed the playoffs nine times in the last 10 seasons.

It has been Smith's policy on non-football matters to let the agent and attorney handle the initial work and then offer the organization assistance.

"If it is an off-the-field matter this is how we deal with it," Smith said. "This has been consistent with us. If it is an on-the-field matter in a game or a practice, then we are the front-runners."

At 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Foley's vehicle was ordered to pull aside by an off-duty policeman who claimed Foley was weaving through traffic at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. After a brief pursuit, Foley stopped and got out of his car, approaching the officer.

According to the police reports, the officer pulled out a gun and ordered Foley to stop. Foley then got back in his car and drove toward his home. After getting out of the car again, Foley moved toward the officer. Warning shots were fired by the off-duty officer. Two shots were fired at Foley's vehicle when a female companion reportedly revved the engine and drove toward the officer. After Foley reached into his pants with his right hand, the officer fired at Foley.

The officer has been put on paid administative leave, AP reported Tuesday.

For the Chargers, the loss of Foley for the year is a major setback, but the team will have to rely on a deep corps of linebackers to get through the season without him.

"Steve is an intregal part of our defense, and of course it hurts," Smith said. "But you don't moan and grown and complain about it. This is a tough world we live in and sometimes life delivers a blow and knocks you down. So what are you going to do about it. You get up and regroup and get after it again. And that's what we will do."

The Chargers will probably give Shaun Phillips the starting job on the other side of Shawne Merriman because of Foley's season-ending injury.

"To be honest right now," Smith said, "At this moment, all I care about is Steve Foley's well-being."

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

ALSO SEE