Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deberg Makes a Graceful Exit

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deberg Makes a Graceful Exit

Article excerpt

Steve DeBerg still isn't sure he has played his last football game. Perhaps that, more than anything, is what kept his emotions in check Wednesday morning as he looked back upon his 17-year National Football League career.

That, and the fact he considers himself a very lucky man.

In a 24-hour span, DeBerg - waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday - had experienced what may be the last day of his playing career, and what may be the dawn of a new life.

He approached the situation much like he had approached so many football games on so many autumn Sunday afternoons. There were certain set plays, or reactions, he could have called: He could have vented anger about the way the Bucs cut him; he could have questioned why, if this was the business decision many will say it was, he wasn't offered any input in it, or asked if he'd like to exit on his own terms.

If asked, he'd have likely played the game for free.

Steve DeBerg, faced with one final chance to run the offense, stepped up as the center of attention Wednesday, observed the field that was his career, and called his final audible.

Football always had given him so much joy, and this day would be no different. He was going to walk away smiling.

"I got to live a dream," said DeBerg, who, at 39, was the NFL's oldest player. " When I got the news, my wife was upset and crying, and she felt like I should be crying, too. I've laughed for 17 years, so why would I want to put a damper on it now?

"I'm not even sure it's over. If it is, I don't have to work another day in my life. It's not all bad options."

DeBerg, who ranks sixth in career completions and attempts and is 10th in NFL passing yardage, said he'd consider playing for another team should the situation be right, possibly joining a contender should an emergency arise in the coming weeks. If not, DeBerg said he always has considered getting into coaching, and this free time he suddenly has will be used to map his future.

Asked to name the biggest highlight in his career, DeBerg smiled and said his entire career has been a highlight. He wasn't being boastful; he simply never believed that he'd even make it through a single season in the NFL. …

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