<
>

Surgery could end career of Bengals LB Pollack

CINCINNATI -- Bengals linebacker David Pollack will need
surgery for the cracked bone in his neck, likely ending his football career.

Pollack cracked the bone while making a tackle against the
Cleveland Browns on Sept. 17 and was placed in a halo brace that
immobilized his neck. Doctors told him that if the fracture healed
without surgery, he could resume his career.

The former first-round draft pick was examined Thursday by a
specialist who recommended surgery on the fracture, which is
expected in the next few weeks.

Pollack wasn't available for comment. All that the Bengals would
say is that "no forecast of Pollack's eventual return to football
will be made at this time."

The news was released after players were done practicing in the
afternoon.

During an interview in October, Pollack said that his career
would most likely be over if he had to have surgery.

"If it heals by itself, then I'm fine," he said at the time.
"It's just like anything else. I'll be fine to play again. It's
just a matter of how it heals."

He said during the interview that if the crack in the bone
didn't heal on its own, doctors would have to fuse two vertebrae to
stabilize it. He has full range of motion in his arms and legs, but
would be risking paralysis if he tried to play after such an
operation and hurt the neck again.

"One doctor said it: Not very many people walk away from a
broken neck twice," Pollack said. "And that's something that kind
of hits home, you know.

"When you fuse two vertebrae together, the likelihood for
injury is greatly increased."

Pollack was a first-round draft -- 17th overall -- in 2005 out of
Georgia, where he played defensive end. The Bengals picked him
intending to move him to linebacker.

A contract dispute cut into his rookie training camp, and he
didn't start until the sixth game. A sprained knee forced him to
miss two games during the season. Despite the setbacks, he ranked
second on the team with 4½ sacks.

The Bengals were expecting a big second season out of Pollack.
He snapped his neck while tackling Browns running back Reuben
Droughns during the second game of the season. As he lay on the
field, he didn't have feeling in his arms.

He was regaining sensation when he was taken off the field,
which made him think he merely pinched a nerve. Medical tests found
the small fracture, and he was put in the protective halo
immediately.