Chargers G Dielman retires due to concussion

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - As tough and nasty as any player in the NFL, whether it was putting Albert Haynesworth on his back or getting in the last shot in a tangle of large bodies, Kris Dielman found it hard to end his NFL career.

With one of his young sons babbling in the background, the four-time Pro Bowl left guard for the San Diego Chargers choked up as he announced Thursday that he was retiring due to a scary concussion that led to changes by the NFL.

“I had nine great years,” said Dielman, who recalled that no one thought he’d make it past his first training camp after signing as an undrafted rookie in 2003. “It just sucks that it has to end this way, but it is.”

Dielman said it was his decision to retire 4 1/2 months after sustaining a concussion in a helmet-to-helmet collision with a New York Jets defender.

“I’ve got to get out when the getting out’s good still,” he said. “It wasn’t worth what would happen if I would have kept on playing. I’ve got a beautiful family I want to be around. I live in a great place, so I want to enjoy it. It’s been a great nine years. I had a lot of fun; a lot of memories.”

Dielman’s wife, Sandy, and sons Reid and Blake sat off to one side in the team meeting room, which was packed with players, coaches and front-office employees.

At one point, Reid blurted out, “It’s Daddy.”

The 320-pound Dielman was staggered by the injury early in the fourth quarter against the Jets on Oct. 23.

He continued to play because the Chargers were out of offensive linemen due to other injuries. The team didn’t diagnose his condition until after the game. Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure on the flight home. The team plane was met by an ambulance and he was hospitalized overnight.

Ten days after Dielman was hurt, the league’s injury and safety panel told game officials to watch closely for concussion symptoms in players. Officials were told that if they believed a player had sustained a concussion, they were to take appropriate steps to alert the team and get medical attention for the player.

“I don’t want to have any more problems, or have problems as I get older,” Dielman said. “I played a rough style of football. This one got me and I’ve got to move on.”

Dielman was salty and blue collar to the end. Dressed in jeans, a blue T-shirt and flip-flops, he recalled how he’d much rather block for a running play than a passing play. Dielman, who played at Indiana, mentioned that even though he became close friends with center Nick Hardwick, who played at Purdue, he put a Boilermakers sticker on his toilet because of the intensity of the college rivalry. Dielman said Hardwick is the godfather of one of his sons.

Quarterback Philip Rivers joined Dielman at the podium.

“I’ll certainly miss the great blocks and his ability to help us win, but I’ll miss him more in the locker room, in the meeting rooms and the bus rides and all those things,” Rivers said. “If you had 53 Kris Dielmans, you’d win a bunch of games. He plays football the way you played it as a kid, the way we all played it in high school. It’s never changed. While it’s a business at this level and there’s a lot of things that change, he treated it the same way. I know I appreciated it. I know the guys appreciated it.”

Rivers got emotional as he recalled a pre-game ritual.

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