FYI: Just got done transcribing Mack Strong's press conference. I know a lot of you are interested in what he had to say and I'm just going to dump it all here for you to sort through. Strong was emotional at times, choked up even, about having to end his career like this. At the same time, he was funny and optimistic about the future. Here you go, with brief lead ins:
I've played a long time. I've played 15 years. I felt I was pretty lucky, pretty blessed, to play a long time not to have anything to end my season or my career. But you play this game long enough, especially playing my position and as many games as I've played in, it's bound to happen sooner or later..
HEARING THE DIAGNOSIS OF YOUR NECK INJURY:
It was more a confirmation of what I felt. On the plane ride back, and I woke this morning I kind of felt it in my gut that this was something significant, that this wasn't like any other injury or ding that I've had in my career. This was a little more serious.
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HOW DO YOU FEEL?
This morning, I had a little bit of soreness, burning in my shoulder.
USED TO SOME PAIN, SO THIS MUST HAVE BEEN BAD?
I'm a fullback, that kind of goes with the territory. You are always going to have some kind of pain or some kind of injury or something that you have to push through. At the same time, I want to be smart. I don't want to do anything that's going to jeopardize my long term quality of health.
SUNDAY MORnING, Crick in my neck, maybe a little tingling in my left arm. I've felt that before, and I didn't think anything about it. I just went out, played, but then when I did have the one hit I felt more burning in both my arms, both my legs, but this was something different, this was something I had never felt before.
ANYTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY ON THE PLAY THAT IT HAPPENED?
It was very much normal. Even on film, it doesn't look like anything happened. You can't really tell but I knew right away that this was different. I had never felt this before, tingling in my hands, numbness all the way down to my feet. I knew, at that point, that this was something I needed to take care of.
I've been dinged, I've had stingers more time than I care to count. I knew this was something that you just don't go off the field for a couple of plays, shake it off, and then come right back in. This is something that might be a little more serious than that.
DID THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE INJURY WORRY YOU?
In light of what happened already this year with the young man in Buffalo, I mean. That was the first thing that came to my mind: I hope this stops. I hope this tingling stops, I hope this numbness stops. I feel very fortunate to be able to get off the field. It was really scary, especially something you have never felt before. I've had sprained ankles, sprained knees, stingers, bruises, dislocations – I've felt it all but this was something different. This was foreign.
There's a lot more to life than football. I've got a wife and two kids and there's nothing more important than being able to spend time with them. If I had not been able to walk off that field, I don't know. … I mean, life goes on and all that, but I'm just grateful that I got the opportunity to make that decision, to make that choice.
To me, it's a no-brainer. I've given it all, every ounce inside of me, to football. I feel like I gave every ounce that I had so I have no regrets."
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER?
I don't know if I can put it into words. …. '93 undrafted rookie free agent. …
I feel like I've played a couple of careers and I've been apart of an incredible team. Lot of memories of coming to this building, and I was just talking to somebody downstairs about all the players that I've had relationships with, guys that have come and gone. … Being able to go to the Super Bowl, going to a couple of Pro Bowls, that's something I never thought of. In '93 if someone would have told me all that would have been waiting for me at the end of my career, I would have been like, 'You're nuts. No way.' I feel like I've been extremely blessed.
I feel very sober about my situation. It's funny. For the last three years I've always known that, OK, at some point you have to move on. You can't just keep playing a game for a living. But I never quite thought it would end this way, with an injury, I always thought I would be able to call my own shots and I always wanted to do it that way. But it's OK. I feel very good about that and I feel like it's an opportunity for me, for other players to raise up and take ownership and leadership of the team and give other players an opportunity to play. I still want to be very much around the organization and apart of the team this year, and do whatever I can to help us win.
RELIEF THAT YOU'LL BE OK?
The fact that I can articulate this things is a blessing. The other thing is the decision has been made for me. I think it would have been very hard if I had gone through this season, played and I didn't have an injuries. You are always in flux about when should I hang it up, when should I call it quits. But it's a no-brainer. It's a no-brainer and I don't have to worry about some sign or anything. This was my sign.
CHANGE IN HIS LIFE
I've been gearing for that the last couple of years. … Talking to everybody… I'm officially throwing my name out there now for any (broadcasting) offers. There are a lot of things I'm interested in instead of football.
I'm just very grateful to play as long as I did but now it's time to move on. I'm the type of person that thinks that life gets better. Preferably, I won't be looking back five, 10 years from now saying those were the best days of my life when I played in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. My best days are ahead of me.
Spinal cord injury, herniated disc pinched my spinal cord. It wasn't a stinger it was a lot more severe than that. I won't need surgery, thank goodness, and it should be something that will get better over time. And I'm grateful for that (and) I won't have to get cut on at all. The prognosis for my quality of life is that I'll be able to press on, play with my kids, and do all the things that I like doing.
Over time it should go away. X-rays, doing whatever treatment and rehab..
ON LEONARD WEAVER REPLACING HIM?
I have the up most confidence in Leonard Weaver. I think he will make people forget about Mack Strong around here. He can have that type of impact because he has that type of ability. He's just a great guy to be around. … The ball is squarely in his court and he'll take the ball and run with it.
It's always kind of awkward when you are the backup because you don't know, 'What's my role? What's my responsibility? How should I approach things?' Now, he's the guy and hopefully, he can be that unsung catalyst for the offense that does the dirty work that helps this offense be successful.