Continued from page 1

“I was a young, dumb rookie,” Wire said. “I wish I had the wits about me and was strong enough to realize that, `You know what, guys, this isn’t right.’ I wish I would’ve stood up then but I didn’t. And that’s why I’m speaking about it.”

Wire spent his first six seasons with the Bills and then three more in Atlanta. He was cut by the Falcons before the start of last season and now considers himself retired.

Wire wouldn’t divulge who else was involved in the pool in Buffalo.

He said there were two separate pools running among Bills defensive players. One was a general pool that rewarded players for making positive plays such as interceptions, forcing fumbles or sacks. The other was limited to a select few players, who each week would ante up money, which would be distributed for hurting players.

“There was no set amount, it just depended on the pot, and depended on the game,” Wire said.

What particularly bothers Wire now is that he was the Falcons union representative and played a role in helping negotiate last year’s collective bargaining agreement, which focused heavily on player safety issues.

As a result of football-related injuries, Wire has four screws holding a titanium plate in his neck, has two fused vertebrae, and has since learned he has two more herniated discs.

“When people come and ask me to play, I humbly decline because the violent nature of the game got the best of me,” he said.

Wire was involved in one play that ended the career of Lions running back James Stewart during a 2003 preseason game. Because it happened in preseason, Wire said he did not receive any reward for the hit in which Stewart separated his shoulder.

Looking back, Wire regrets that he celebrated on the sideline after making the hit.

“I patted myself on the back, and for that I’m ashamed,” Wire said. “My sense of normalcy was warped.”