Corey Linsley 99% sure he’ll retire because of heart ailment – Orange County Register

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COSTA MESA — Here’s what we learned, what we heard and what comes next after the Chargers underwent post-season physicals, held a team meeting with interim coach Giff Smith and his staff, cleaned out their lockers, held exit interviews with reporters and departed for vacation Monday:

LINSLEY’S FUTURE

Center Corey Linsley said he was 99% certain he would retire from football because of a heart ailment that sidelined him since Week 3. Heart specialists he consulted over the past few months advised him to quit the game because of the strain on the field and in the weight room that weighed on him.

Linsley said he dropped weight on the advice of his doctors since playing his last game Sept. 24 against the Minnesota Vikings. He also said he could still exercise, but not with the same intensity as blocking opposing linemen in the name of protecting quarterback Justin Herbert on the football field.

“I’ve got to monitor it,” Linsley said of his condition. “But it’s not life-threatening or life-altering besides football. I don’t want to speak on the actual medical stuff because I’m not a doctor, but the advice I got was that I could make a decision. The decision was that it was safest to stop playing and re-evaluate in six months.”

Linsley’s ailment was discovered after he consulted a doctor after he said he didn’t feel like himself early in the season. He said a final decision on his future will be made in March.

“It’s serious enough where playing football puts me at risk for further complications,” he said. “Being 300 pounds isn’t healthy in general, so that didn’t help the cause. Overall, it was tough. I thank the Chargers, the Spanos family, Brandon (Staley) and Giff for letting me hang around and help out where I can.”

So, after 132 games in the NFL over 10 seasons, including the past three with the Chargers, Linsley will likely retire and create an enormous void on the offensive line. Linsley formed an important bond with Herbert during their 33 games together, but it will be up to someone else to step into the role next season.

“Corey’s been awesome,” Herbert said. “He’s such a great leader and teammate. What he’s given this game over the past few years is remarkable and we’re definitely going to miss a guy like that if he decides to retire. He’s meant so much to me and, especially, the quarterbacks. He’s helped so much, just talking about football, just talking about life. The game will definitely miss him.”

HERBERT UPDATE

If all goes well with his surgically-repaired right index finger, Herbert said he expects to have a fairly normal offseason. He said he hoped to begin throwing again within a “month or so,” but that he would continue to “do everything we can to make sure the bone is healed up” in the coming weeks.

Herbert’s streak of 63 consecutive starts, including the AFC wild-card game last season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, came to an end after he was hurt in the first half of the Chargers’ 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Dec. 10. Easton Stick started the season’s final four games, all losses.

Herbert completed 65.1% of his passes for 3,134 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his fourth season in the NFL. It was the first time he had failed to throw for 4,000 yards or more in his career, and it also was the first time he failed to throw 25 touchdown passes or more.

WILLIAMS UPDATE

Wide receiver Mike Williams said he was meeting all his timelines in his recovery from a season-ending knee injury suffered in the Chargers’ victory Sept. 24 over the Vikings. He declined to give specifics about his training routine or guess when he might be sound enough for football activities, though.

“It was hard for me, I mean, just watching every game and wanting to be out there to help the guys get a ‘W’,” he said. “That was the main thing, me being the player I am, just wanting to be out there to help the guys win, and I wasn’t able to do that. My main focus was to get back 100%.”

The Chargers must hire a new coach to replace Staley and a new general manager to replace Tom Telesco, who were fired Dec. 15, hours after a humiliating 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Chargers quarterback, is expected to receive consideration.

Hiring someone with the experience of Harbaugh, who has coached in the NFL as well as collegiately at Michigan, Stanford and the University of San Diego, would mark a departure for the Chargers. Staley, Anthony Lynn and Mike McCoy were each first-time NFL head coaches when the Chargers hired them.

“I’m not big on the dictator side,” wide receiver Keenan Allen, the longest-tenured Chargers player, said when asked what kind of coach he would like to see hired to replace Staley. “You need a winner. You need a guy who knows what he’s doing, knows what he can do and puts us in a position to win.”



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