TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Mike Alstott's season, and perhaps his career, is over.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday placed the six-time Pro Bowl fullback on injured reserve with a neck problem that Alstott said was not related to a career-threatening injury that required surgery in 2003.
``It is what it is. The facts are the facts,'' the 33-year-old said during an emotional news conference at the team's headquarters. ``I can't put on the helmet and jersey this year.''
But Alstott, arguably the most popular player in team history, couldn't bring himself to say that he may have played his last game. He shrugged off several retirement-related questions, saying that's something that will be answered in time.
The team's second all-time leading rusher with 5,088 yards had been preparing for his 12th season, but became concerned when soreness in his neck persisted as training camp progressed at Disney World.
Tests performed by team doctors revealed a new problem, and the decision to place him on IR was made after Alstott consulted with his personal surgeon, who operated on the fullback during the 2003 season.
Although his role in the offense has diminished every year since the Bucs won the Super Bowl five seasons ago, Alstott is the club's career leader in touchdowns (71) and rushing TDs (58). He was selected to appear in six straight Pro Bowls from 1997-2002.
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