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Kennedy announces retirement

Posted: Tuesday December 23, 2003 2:11AM; Updated: Tuesday December 23, 2003 2:16AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Three-time Pro Bowl tackle Lincoln Kennedy of the Oakland Raiders is retiring, ending his career after an injury-plagued 11th season.

The offensive right tackle, who has played through knee problems, a torn left calf and a variety of other injuries this season, limped off the field during the fourth quarter of Monday night's 41-7 loss to Green Bay.

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He is not expected to play Sunday, when the Raiders close out the season in San Diego.

"These injuries just keep piling up," the 32-year-old Kennedy said. "It just gets harder and harder to come back. I think my body's made my mind up for me."

The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Kennedy, the ninth overall pick in the 1993 draft by Atlanta out of Washington, has been one of the Raiders' most steady team leaders and unofficial spokesmen -- especially this season. Despite the frustration of a 4-11 record following last season's Super Bowl berth, Kennedy has been there to answer for the losing.

He also saw most of his linemates go down this season. The Raiders have lost 12 players to injured reserve -- including three offensive linemen.

"It's been impressive watching him," said receiver Tim Brown, the longest-tenured member of the Raiders. "The season we're having it would have been easy to say enough is enough and fold it in.

"He has legitimate injuries that would have sat a lot of guys down. He's a warrior. You need more guys like that around."

Kennedy was a fan favorite, too, and with good reason.

Before every home game, he ran along the south end zone of the Coliseum slapping high-fives with the notorious fans in the Black Hole.

And, after the game Monday, he did it one last time.

"I just went around to the people left in the stands when it was over and thanked them for coming out," he said. "They have been a big reason for my success."

Kennedy blossomed after a 1996 trade sent him to Oakland, starting in all but three games during his first seven seasons with the Raiders. He was the anchor of a powerful offensive line that helped Oakland win three straight division titles.

"It definitely does make me feel good, all the adversity I battled through and that the Raiders gave me a second chance and I made the best of it," he said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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