KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 28, 2006) -- Running back Priest Holmes will not return to the Kansas City Chiefs this season.
However, Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson said that recent medical tests on Holmes have been encouraging and Holmes hopes to return for the 2007 season. Nov. 28 was the last day the Chiefs could have activated Holmes.
"He does not, at this time, plan to give up football," Peterson said. "We're looking at another evaluation in January or February of '07."
The three-time Pro Bowler, who turned 33 last month, has not played since Oct. 30, 2005, when he was injured on a hit by Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman in a game at San Diego. The hit left him with head and neck trauma, diagnosed by three spinal specialists.
He missed the last nine games of the season after skipping the last eight games of the 2004 season with a knee injury. He has appeared in all 16 games in a season only four times since breaking into the NFL in 1997.
Peterson said Holmes, who is under contract through 2009, told him Nov. 24 that he wanted to remain on the physically unable to perform list through this season.
"We're 12 weeks into the regular season," Peterson said. "Without getting into the medical aspects of it, I think there were some questions as to whether he could have himself ready to play."
Peterson declined to say whether Holmes would have been able to return had he gotten the same evaluations earlier in the season rather than within the past week.
Holmes had his best year in 2003 after a lucrative contract extension, rushing for 1,420 yards and setting an NFL record with 27 touchdowns. Seattle's Shaun Alexander broke the record with 28 TDs last year.
Since Holmes' injury, though, Larry Johnson has emerged as Kansas City's marquee running back and Holmes has been all but invisible, staying at his home in Texas instead of working out with the Chiefs in Kansas City.
That was nothing unusual for the intensely private and enigmatic back who became a surprise star after going undrafted out of Texas.
He joined Baltimore as a rookie free agent in 1997, rushing for 1,008 yards the following season, before taking on a reduced role behind Jamal Lewis. He came to Kansas City as an unrestricted free agent before the 2001 season, when he led the league in rushing with 1,555 yards and earned his first Pro Bowl berth.
He ran for 1,615 yards in 2002, third in the league, despite missing the last two games with a hip injury that prompted the Chiefs to take Johnson with their first-round pick in the 2003 draft.
"With Priest, you can never count him out," said Holmes' agent, Todd France. "In my mind, there's no question. In his mind, there's no question.
"In everyone else's mind, he's been second-guessed his entire career, and people have been wrong."
Peterson said he has maintained regular contact with Holmes and the team understood and supported the running back's decision to stay in Texas.
"He felt that until he could play where he'd like to be, at 100 percent, and to practice at 100 percent, he didn't want to be a distraction," Peterson said.