Chargers' Dielman chose 'to get out when the getting out's good'

SAN DIEGO -- 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.

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With one of his young sons babbling in the background, the San Diego Chargers' four-time Pro Bowl left guard choked up as he announced Thursday that he was retiring at age 31 because of a scary concussion that led to changes by the NFL.

"I had nine great years," said Dielman, who recalled that no one believed 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 4½ 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 was staggered by the injury early in the fourth quarter of an Oct. 23 game against the Jets, but 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 Dielman was hospitalized overnight.

Ten days after Dielman was hurt, the NFL'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.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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