NAPA, Calif. – Rich Gannon ended an 18-year NFL career Saturday, retiring from the Oakland Raiders after missing missed most of last season with a broken vertebra in his neck.

The 39-year-old quarterback announced his decision – one that had been expected for months – at the team’s wine country training facility.

“As far as the decision to retire, it was an easy one for me,” Gannon said, sitting alongside team owner Al Davis and coach Norv Turner. “It really was not my decision. I was not able to continue to play physically. That really takes all the guess work out of it for a player like myself, who still feels that he’s got enough left in his tank and enough left in his arm and his legs to continue to play.”

The 2002 NFL MVP already has signed with CBS Sports as an NFL game analyst. Gannon guided the Raiders to the 2003 Super Bowl before spending much of the last two seasons injured. He injured his neck in the third week last season in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Gannon threw for 28,743 yards and 180 touchdowns in his career with Minnesota, Washington, Kansas City and Oakland. In his MVP season, Gannon passed for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing more than 67 percent of his passes.

Giants and Jets

Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey got into a fight with two Jets players on the second play of a joint practice between the teams that also featured an argument between Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson.

On the second play of a 9-on-7 drill pitting the Giants offense against the Jets defense, Shockey got in a tussle with defensive backs Erik Coleman and Oliver Celestin, and soon all three players were throwing wild punches.

Coleman and Celestin pulled the Giants tight end to the ground and Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma jumped on top, touching off a melee involving numerous players from both teams. Order was restored after a few minutes.

Steelers

Duce Staley’s sore right knee is becoming a concern.

Staley, who missed most of the second half of last season with a sore right hamstring, has sat out all but one full day of training camp contact work because of an aching knee.

After insisting for several days that the injury wasn’t a worry, coach Bill Cowher said Staley will undergo an MRI exam Sunday to make sure there’s nothing wrong.

“We’ll kind of go from there, see where he’s at,” Cowher said. “He still doesn’t feel real comfortable.”

Cowboys

Rookie defensive end Marcus Spears rode a stationary bike and could be out about a month after someone rolled on his leg during a drill Friday.

Spears has a sprained knee, a high ankle sprain and a pulled groin. He was considered a strong candidate to start.

“It doesn’t help. When you’re a rookie player, you try to integrate in. You can’t do that by watching,” Parcells said. “It could’ve been a lot worse than what the prognosis is now. We’ll get him rehabbing as quick as we can, we’ll get him back as quick as we can and hopefully I’ll get him some playing time in the preseason.”

Panthers

Carolina cornerback Ken Lucas pulled his hamstring on the second play of the Panthers’ scrimmage Saturday and sat out the rest of the workout.

Carolina coach John Fox said the team did not know the extent of the injury yet. But Lucas, who signed a $36 million free-agent contract with Carolina during the offseason, said he doubted he will play in next week’s preseason opener against Washington.

Broncos

Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer and defensive lineman Mario Fatafehi each hurt a knee, though Plummer’s injury was not deemed serious and he returned later.

“It’s nothing major and with a couple of day’s rest it should be OK,” Plummer said.

Shanahan said Fatafehi likely hurt ligaments in his left knee; the early prognosis was that he would miss one to three weeks.

CB Champ Bailey was out of drills for a third day with a sore left hamstring.

Rams

St. Louis signed defensive tackle John Parella and offensive tackle Matt Willig to one-year contracts.

Parella, a 12-year veteran, was with the Raiders the last four seasons after eight years with the Chargers and his rookie year with the Bills. He has played in 172 games with 111 starts and has 26 career sacks.

Willig, entering his 14th season, was with the Panthers the last two years and is entering his second stint with the Rams after playing with them in their 1999 Super Bowl championship year.

AP-ES-08-06-05 1937EDT


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