Concussion KOs Panthers' Morgan rest of season
"Absolutely," Morgan said Wednesday. "I'm obviously frustrated, but I can turn that into a positive. I think that will make me that much more hungry to come back next season and have a great season."
Morgan acknowledged he suffered a concussion in the Panthers' opening exhibition game against Jacksonville, and then a month later in Carolina's season-opener against Atlanta. The Panthers had not identified Morgan's preseason injury as a concussion before, so it means he's had at least six in his career.
Morgan said he flew to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to meet Dr. Mickey Collins, an expert on concussions. He recommended Morgan not return this season.
"It came down to a decision that he felt that after Jacksonville and Atlanta, having two separate incidents where I got dinged a little bit, he didn't want me to come back and have another one, then we'd really have to go from there," said Morgan, who had not played or practiced since the Atlanta game. "He felt it was in my best interest not to play right now, but he felt really good about me coming back next season."
Concussions occur during a blow to the head, when the brain moves in the skull, resulting in confusion, memory loss and in extreme cases, loss of consciousness. Studies have shown athletes who have suffered multiple concussions are more susceptible to additional concussions. Several players, including Troy Aikman and Steve Young, had their careers cut short by concussions.
Morgan, the Panthers' first-round draft choice in 2001, has never played all 16 games in a season due to his numerous concussions and other injuries. Still, the Panthers gave him a five-year, $28 million contract before the start of last season.
Morgan thinks sitting out this season will allow him to heal and play again.
"I've heard stories about guys, but they were in the situation I was in and they played and it hurt them," Morgan said. "I think that's a big step that we're making right now. We're preventing that. I'm not going to get dinged. It's going to get me a lot of time to heal up."
Coach John Fox said Morgan will likely be placed on injured reserve later in the week so they can sign another player. Chris Draft will continue to start in Morgan's place at middle linebacker.
The Panthers were busy Wednesday preparing for Sunday's game at Baltimore, but Morgan's plight has earned the sympathy of his teammates.
"I'm looking at it from a friend's perspective," said receiver Steve Smith, who was in the same draft class as Morgan. "You throw football out the window. I hope that he and his wife can come together and make a decision for themselves and not be pressured to do anything. Football is great, but it's been nasty and it's taken a lot of dreams away. Whatever decision he makes, as a teammate I stick by him."
Morgan, who recently became a father, said he'll be examined by Collins again in February, when he hopes he'll be cleared to play. But while Morgan is confident he'll play again, he vows he won't jeopardize his health.
"Trust me, the minute that I feel like I'm going to be hurting myself, that will be the time when I won't be playing," Morgan said. "But right now I don't feel like this is the time. I feel like I do have football left in me. I know when I come back people are going to look at me and worry about me, but I know how I feel and I know next year I can come back and things can be a little different."
Also Wednesday, the Panthers announced running back DeAngelo Williams won't play against the Ravens because of a sprained right ankle.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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