Ed Driscoll

Gannon Makes It Official

The battered Raiders quarterback is trading his cleats for a microphone:

Rich Gannon is leaving the NFL after missing most of last season with a broken vertebra in his neck, and ready to move to the TV booth.

The 39-year-old quarterback for the Oakland Raiders was to officially retire Saturday at an afternoon news conference at the team’s training facility in the California wine country. The announcement had been expected for months.

Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP, already has signed with CBS Sports as an NFL game analyst after playing 18 seasons in the league. He guided the Raiders to the 2003 Super Bowl before spending much of the last two seasons injured.

He injured his neck in the third week last season in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Gannon threw for 28,743 yards and 180 touchdowns in his career with Minnesota, Washington, Kansas City and Oakland. He won his MVP award while leading the Raiders to the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, passing for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing more than 67 percent of his passes.

Gannon tried to help any way possible last season, attending meetings and games while wearing a bulky, plastic brace. He consulted with four of the country’s top neck and spine specialists, and they advised him not to play last season. Gannon held out hope of playing this year though he knew it was unlikely.

Meanwhile, the first NFL preseason game of the season was played very early this morning if you’re in an American time zone: Falcons 27, Colts 21 in the American Bowl, played this year in the Tokyo Dome.