Colts' Thompson puts career in a sack Retiring end made 143 of 146 starts

March 24, 1992

Defensive end Donnell Thompson has told the Indianapolis Colts he is retiring.

"I've played for such a long time and I've been fortunate to have not sustained any serious injuries," Thompson said Sunday from his Atlanta home. "I feel this is the right time."

A first-round pick in 1981, Thompson started 143 of his 146 games with the Colts. He ranked fifth on the team with 76 tackles in 1991 and shared the team lead with five sacks.

"I've tried to talk Donnell out of [retiring]," said Rick Venturi, Indianapolis' defensive coordinator, "because the guy can still play. . . . Donnell has been playing some of his finest football the last few years. . . . We'll miss him."

Thompson, 33, agreed to a contract extension last year that boosted his base pay from $300,000 to about $425,000.

But he has been unhappy since team owner Robert Irsay gave Jon Hand a contract that will pay him $900,000 in 1992 and $1 million in 1993. In the past three years, Thompson had 217 tackles, Hand had 208.

* Former NFL star Lyle Alzado, suffering from inoperable brain cancer is in the hospital, but his family has asked that little information be released.

Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital spokeswoman Lee Lewis Husk said that Alzado's family would say only that he was in the hospital for routine chemotherapy, is in fair condition and is expected to go home in a day or two.

* BEARS: Two-time Pro Bowl tackle Jim Covert said he is retiring rather than risk permanent damage from a back injury that kept him out all last season.

"I don't think that the Bears have ever had anybody play the left tackle position as good as Jim has, I don't know if we ever will," coach Mike Ditka said at a news conference announcing Covert's retirement.

Covert, the Bears' first-round draft choice in 1983 from the University of Pittsburgh, became an immediate starter and anchored the left side of an offensive line that opened holes for running back Walter Payton on the way to the 1986 Super Bowl championship. He was picked for the Pro Bowl after the 1985 and 1986 seasons and continued to play solidly despite repeated injuries until a training camp back injury knocked him ,, out for the entire 1991 season.

Covert has been told by doctors that continuing to play could cause permanent spinal damage.

"It was a very tough decision for me to make," Covert said.

Covert, 32, was the Bears starting offensive left tackle every season from 1983 through 1990, starting 108 of 110 games.

* CFL: Record-setting quarterback Doug Flutie signed a multimillion-dollar contract with the Calgary Stampeders.

Flutie was voted the league's outstanding player last year while playing for the British Columbia Lions.

The last Colts

Donnell Thompson's retirement leaves the Colts with four players from their days in Baltimore:

Player.. .. .. .. .. ..Pos. .. .. .. 1st year

Ray Donaldson.. .. .. . C.. .. .. .. .. .1980

Pat Beach.. .. .. .. .. TE.. .. .. .. .. 1982

Rohn Stark.. .. .. .. ..P.. .. .. .. .. .1982

Marc Hermann.. .. .. .. QB.. .. .. .. .. 1983

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