San Diego Chargers' center, Nick Hardwick, suffered a concussion when playing against the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday during an intersquad practice, according to Scott Bair of the North County Times.
Just how much time remains to be seen, but with the NFL taking a cautious approach to concussions, quarterback Philip Rivers can expect to have someone else snapping him the ball.
Then there's the possibility that Hardwick won't wait for the NFL and its concussion tests. He may choose to walk away from the game on his own terms.
Even before the 2011-12 season had ended, Hardwick was considering retirement. Prior to the Chargers' Week 17 game against the Oakland Raiders, Hardwick told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was thinking about hanging the cleats up.
“I love football,” Hardwick told Acee. “It’s a hard decision. There is a lot that goes into it. It’s heavy. So I’m not willing to think about it right now.”
In March, Hardwick inked a three-year deal worth $13.5 million. Now that he's suffered his third concussion of his NFL career, Hardwick may be willing to give that contract back to San Diego.
With Hardwick's best friend and fellow offensive lineman, Kris Dielman, retiring because of the effects his concussions are having on him, Hardwick is surely revisiting the option of retirement.
“We’ll weigh the options, see where we’re at, see how I feel when we’re done,” Hardwick said last season. “We’ve got time to make decisions and figure it out.”
For the Chargers and Hardwick, time is running out. Their regular season kicks off on September 10 against Oakland. If the Chargers want to improve their sputtering offense from last season, they will need to fortify the offensive line promptly.
Not only did Dielman walk away from San Diego's offensive line, but Pro-Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill also retired from the game due to recurring spinal issues.
There's no question that Hardwick is contemplating retirement. If he's not, he should. He has a wife and a young son to think about.