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Pennington decides to take season off to 'evaluate' future

The tumultuous career of Chad Pennington is on hold, as the quarterback plans to take a year off from the NFL, the *Charleston Daily Mail* reported Thursday.

"I'm actually going to take this year off, get healthy and do some work for Fox Sports," Pennington told an audience at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet in Charleston, W.Va. "I'm going to evaluate things and see where I am physically."

Pennington, who turns 35 in June, underwent surgery April 7 after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a pickup basketball game. Dr. James Andrews performed the operation on the former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins quarterback, who is now a free agent.

"(Playing basketball) was just a dumb decision," Pennington told his audience. "I was in town in March, doing some (1st and 10) Foundation work and decided to play in a pickup basketball game and tore my ACL. I haven't played (football), I wasn't training real hard at the time because I was doing some shoulder rehab, and my legs weren't ready to play basketball, so it was just dumb.

"The last time I played a pickup basketball game was when I was at Marshall. It's one of those things."

Pennington twice has been selected the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, but he lasted just two plays last season with the Dolphins before hurting his right shoulder again. He had surgery on it for the fourth time, and previously said he hoped to return to the NFL in 2011.

"It seems like I majored in that (injury comebacks)," Pennington said. "I'm trying to get away from that. It seems to follow me around."

A shoulder injury ended Pennington's 2009 season in Week 3. Following arduous rehabilitation, he began 2010 as a backup to Chad Henne, then made his season debut in the ninth game when he started against the Tennessee Titans. But Pennington had to leave the game after just two snaps because of a dislocated shoulder and torn capsule.

Pennington's career completion percentage of 66.0 is the highest in NFL history among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 attempts. In 2008, his one full season with the Dolphins, Pennington led them to their only playoff berth since 2001.

Pennington led the Jets to the playoffs in 2002, 2004 and 2006, and he told listeners that he's valued the opportunities he's had.

"I hang my hat on the relationships I've been able to form over the last 11 years and being able to be in the huddle and help lead the team," Pennington said. "That's what playing quarterback is all about. That's what I'll miss."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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