Decker to have season-ending surgery

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker will have surgery to fix torn ligaments in his left foot, ending his college career and complicating his status for the NFL draft.

Decker confirmed his decision before Saturday's game against Michigan State. He will have the operation Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., with specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.

The injury is known as a Lisfranc sprain, a tear of the ligament that holds his first two toes in place. He was hurt last week at Ohio State, while running a route toward the sideline when he tried to plant quickly and felt a strange sensation. At first, he thought one of his cleats broke off. Then he realized the problem.

"I put some more pressure on my foot, and then from there I knew something was wrong," said Decker, who won't be able to run for another five months.

He said he's been told he'll need eight months of rehabilitation before he's at full speed again. That means Decker, who was one of 10 finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's best receiver, won't be able to participate in the scouting combine before the draft.

Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in June, Decker didn't rule out taking up baseball again, but it's not his focus now. He expressed no regret about choosing the rougher sport.

"I looked at the pros and cons with the lifestyle and the career aspirations that I have beyond football stuff, and the best bet is to play football," Decker said, adding: "It's harder on your body than baseball, but it's not year round. You still have a couple months to do other things. I've got other goals that I want to accomplish."

He already has his undergraduate degree and is taking grad classes in sports management. Once he's healthy, he'll resume training for the pros with the hope of selling some NFL team on his potential despite the injury.

Decker was in touch with Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who had the same injury earlier in his NFL career and advised Decker about the recovery process. Ted Ginn Jr. also had it, but the Miami Dolphins still took the speedster out of Ohio State with the ninth overall selection in the 2007 draft.

Despite playing sparingly as a freshman, having a sprained left ankle interrupt his season last November, and now ending his senior year two-thirds of the way through, Decker is Minnesota's all-time leading receiver with 3,119 yards. His 24 touchdown receptions rank third in school history.

This sudden end of the senior season he was so eager for has been difficult for Decker to stomach. His voice quivered slightly and his eyes looked glassy while he sat at a podium Saturday to discuss the injury and his future.

"It's going to be a good test of character for myself," Decker said. "I think it's going to make me appreciate what I've had."