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Scott Fujita ponders retirement from NFL after neck injury

BEREA, Ohio -- Scott Fujita hopes his last appearance on an NFL playing field won't be this Sunday for the Cleveland Browns.

He'd prefer to make another game-saving tackle, clutch interception or crowd-inspiring sack -- instead of merely being part of the pregame coin toss.

Fujita is on injured reserve, out for the season with a neck injury. An MRI revealed nerve and disk damage that also could end the linebacker's career.

When told by captains D'Qwell Jackson and Phil Dawson that he would be an honorary captain against the San Diego Chargers this week, Fujita finally faced stark reality.

"That's when it hit me, this is the end of the season for me," he said Friday. "It was quite emotional."

Calling it a career would be even tougher.

"It's still early in the process for that," Fujita, 33, said. "I just want to get healthy, and then it will be some private conversations between me and my wife and our doctors."

If Fujita can't convince himself it is time to quit, perhaps the discussions with wife Jaclyn will do it.

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"She's concerned," he said. "The day I went to get the MRI, I almost didn't want to tell her."

Fujita had neck surgery in 1999 and said Friday he was grateful to play another 13 years "relatively pain free."

Now, he doesn't want to risk another operation. And much as it will pain him to leave his teammates and the game he loves, Fujita is smart enough to know that one more ill-placed hit could haunt him the rest of his life.

"I've got to be honest, when I had the neck surgery in college, I assumed there were going to be problems in my future anyway, it's just the reality of what we do," he said. "So I'd like to not make those problems any worse."

Fujita last played Oct. 7 against the New York Giants.

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