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Irvin May Face Retirement

Michael Irvin hinted today that he might have to give up football because of a neck injury that temporarily paralyzed him.

Irvin didn't use the word Â"retire,Â" but he swallowed hard, clenched his teeth and paused before answering questions about his future. His voice cracked and his eyes reddened.

Â"I love playing the game,Â" the Dallas Cowboys star receiver said, speaking softly, slowly and without his usual verve. Â"But I'd be lying to you if I tell you that in the last couple of days it hasn't come up.Â"

Irvin sustained a swollen spinal cord and herniated disc after slamming his head into the turf early in Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 12-year veteran said he tried getting up after the play, but couldn't. He then stared at the sky above Veterans Stadium and feared the worst.

He was relieved a few minutes later when feeling returned to his finger and toes while in an ambulance.

Michael Irvin was carried off the field Sunday.
Â"I was just scared,Â" he said. Â"I thought about not playing with my son.Â"

That contrasted with the Â"good spiritsÂ" coach Chan Gailey described Irvin as being in when he flew home Monday. But this time Irvin had just come from a visit to a spine specialist. He had nothing to report about his condition, saying that the doctor spoke only in medical terms.

Wearing a neck brace that also supports his chin, Irvin spoke to reporters for about 10 minutes while sitting in front of his locker at the team's training facility.

Before meeting with the media, Irvin also spent about 20 minutes talking to teammate Daryl Johnston, who is out the rest of this season and may have to retire because of a second neck injury in three years.

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