Nearly 34, Jets' McNeil decides to retire

April 21, 1993|By New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- After 12 years with the New York Jets and just day before his 34th birthday, Freeman McNeil -- the all-time leading rusher in New York football history -- was to announce his retirement today.

The Jets scheduled a news conference for noon at Weeb Ewbank Hall, but public relations director Frank Ramos refused to divulge the subject matter.

Several team sources confirmed that the Jets asked McNeil to consider retirement after last season ended and that he has agreed to step aside.

"They approached him with the idea," one source close to McNeil said. "I think he's just been trying to make his own decision."

McNeil could not be reached for comment, but in December he conceded retirement was an option. "I'm just like any other guy who's played this game; I feel like I could play forever," he said. "But what it comes down to is if the old body is willing to go along with the thought. It comes down to how I feel in the off-season."

After losing Bears free-agent fullback Brad Muster to the Saints on Monday and with McNeil's retirement today, the Jets have stepped up efforts to sign Seahawks restricted free-agent running back Chris Warren to an offer sheet by Friday's midnight deadline. Seattle would have until midnight Saturday to match it or lose Warren for a fourth-round pick in Sunday's draft.

McNeil was the Jets' No. 1 pick out of UCLA in 1981, the third selection overall in that draft. He was taken right after the Giants scooped up a North Carolina linebacker named Lawrence Taylor.

Unlike Taylor, McNeil never got to play in a Super Bowl. But he put together quite a storied career himself, rushing for 8,074 yards, more than any other Jet or Giant ever and 15th in NFL history. McNeil had 1,000-yard seasons in 1984 and '85 and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

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