- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2006

Brandon Noble came into the NFL the hard way and he’s leaving it the hard way.

The often-injured Washington Redskins defensive tackle is expected to be among the team’s cuts because his $1.7 million salary is too high for a team with serious cap issues.

Noble, who will be 32 next month, missed all of last season because of knee surgeries and a resulting staph infection. He contracted another post-surgical infection in January. And as Noble made public for the first time for this story, he also suffered life-threatening blood clots in each lung during his January hospitalization.

“I was a lot closer to dying than I would like to admit,” said Noble, who hasn’t officially retired yet. “I’m feeling a lot better. My appetite is back. I’m 280 pounds [up 25 pounds from his low point during his illness], although I still get an upset stomach a lot. I’m back walking and playing with my kids, but there are still some hurdles to be overcome. I’ll be on blood thinners for at least four to five months, so I couldn’t even be on the field for anyone until after that.”

It took three years for Noble to make the NFL after leaving Penn State. Noble signed with San Francisco as a rookie free agent in 1997 and rejoined the 49ers in January 1998 but spent just five weeks on the practice squad during those first two seasons while also playing two springs in NFL Europe.

Noble finally made his NFL debut in Dallas’ 1999 opener, a game that remains his fondest football memory. He pressured then-Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson to set up a sack that led to the Cowboys’ winning touchdown in a stunning 41-35 comeback in overtime.

Noble became a starter midway through the 2000 season and remained so for the next two years. He signed with Washington as a free agent in 2003 but missed that season after tearing up a knee in preseason. Noble recovered to play in every game in 2004, with six starts, before his knee ailment led to what will be the end of his career.

“It’s no big deal for me because I expect to be cut,” Noble said. “Everybody’s career ends at some point earlier than they would like it, too. There are very few John Elways in this league.”

While Noble would like a future in football via radio or coaching, for now, “my focus is on getting healthy.”

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