BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Scott Fujita hopes his last appearance on an NFL playing field won't be this Sunday for the Cleveland Browns.
He would prefer to make another game-saving tackle, clutch interception or crowd-inspiring sack — instead of merely being part of the pregame coin toss.
Fujita is on the injured reserve list, out for the season with a neck injury. An MRI revealed nerve and disk damage that could also end the linebacker's career.
When told by captains D'Qwell Jackson and Phil Dawson that he would be an honorary captain against the San Diego Chargers this week, Fujita finally faced stark reality: "That's when it hit me, this is the end of the season for me," he said Friday. "It was quite emotional."
Calling it a career would be even tougher.
"It's still early in the process for that," Fujita, 33, said. "I just want to get healthy and then it will be some private conversations between me and my wife and our doctors."
If Fujita can't convince himself it is time to quit, perhaps the discussions with wife Jaclyn will do it.
"She's concerned," he said. "The day I went to get the MRI, I almost didn't want to tell her."
Fujita had neck surgery in 1999 and said Friday he was grateful to play another 13 years "relatively pain free."
Now, he doesn't want to risk another operation. And much as it will pain him to leave his teammates and the game he loves, Fujita is smart enough to know that one more ill-placed hit could haunt him the rest of his life.
"I've got to be honest, when I had the neck surgery in college I assumed there were going to be problems in my future anyway, it's just the reality of what we do," he said. "So I'd like to not make those problems any worse."
Fujita last played Oct. 7 against the New York Giants.
"I had a number of stingers in that game," he said. "Those issues didn't subside over the next few days."
It has been a trying year for Fujita, one of four players suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. He had his penalty reduced from three games to one, but isn't sure he wants to continue that battle.
"That couldn't be further from my mind right now," Fujita said. "I fought that fight. I felt like I came out on the good side of it. They admitted publicly I had nothing to do with any of that. I feel good about that. Now it's just a matter of whether I want to fight this silly redetermination that I didn't stand up to my coach.