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Chiefs' Jones remains hospitalized

Posted: Tuesday August 05, 2003 2:49 PM

CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Willie Jones remained hospitalized Tuesday after suffering a sprained neck and temporarily losing feeling in his body during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, the team said.

Chiefs president Carl Peterson said in a statement that Jones was doing better and likely would be released Wednesday from Aultman Hospital.

"I'm pleased to report that Willie has feeling in all of his limbs and seems to be on the cautious road to recovery," Peterson said.

A nursing supervisor said earlier Tuesday that Jones had been released. But Aultman spokeswoman Jodi Knapik later said the hospital would not confirm whether Jones was there and referred all calls to the Chiefs.

Jones crumbled to the turf Monday with 17 seconds left in the second quarter after briefly blocking Green Bay Packers linebacker Marcus Wilkins on a pass play.

After going down limp, Jones, who suffered temporary paralysis on a similar play in practice last season, lay motionless for nearly 10 minutes before being removed from the field on a stretcher by medical personnel.

Following the game, Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil said Jones had regained feeling in his hands and feet.

"He's been through this before, so he sort of has a history with it," Vermeil said. "This wasn't anything like the last time he did it, though."

Kansas City's 9-0 win against Green Bay was called in the third quarter because of a storm.

While Jones, 27, was being attended to, players on both sidelines knelt in prayer as the crowd of more than 20,000 inside Fawcett Stadium fell silent.

"It was horrible," Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "I felt like my heart stopped. That's the worst feeling in the world, to see a player lying there and not moving. It's good to hear that he's doing better."

Jones didn't appear to fall awkwardly or sustain any significant blow to the helmet.

The 6-foot-6, 355-pound Jones was a last-minute starter, replacing John Tait. Jones appeared in six games with the Chiefs last season.

He sustained the neck injury in a Nov. 7 practice, missed two games and was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Jones, who went to Grambling, won a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams in 1999 after making the team as an undrafted rookie free agent.

This was the second consecutive year that a player has been seriously injured in the Hall of Fame Game.

Last year, Houston safety Leomont Evans was temporarily paralyzed in the expansion Texans' preseason opener against the New York Giants.

Evans bruised his spinal cord in the third quarter while rushing a punt.

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