Malcolm Agnew is out of football for good

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

When the National Football League announced 53-man rosters this week, one former Saluki knew his name would never be listed. 

Former Saluki running back Malcolm Agnew had dreams of the NFL and even signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent on May 2, but moderate spinal stenosis prevented him from returning to the field. 

Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal cord in the neck or the spinal nerve roots in the lower back are compressed, according to Spinal-health, a website with back pain information. Symptoms can include leg pain, tingling, weakness or numbness and arm pain can also occur. 

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Agnew failed a physical with the Packers due to the injury and the team released him. After receiving a second opinion, Agnew gave up his playing career. 

“If I were to get hit the wrong way just one time, I could get paralyzed from the neck down,” Agnew wrote in a Facebook post  “So I had to unfortunately give up the game I absolutely love the most.” 

Spinal stenosis is not a first in the NFL. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones and former New York Giants running back David Wilson both suffer from spinal stenosis. Jones continues to play; Wilson retired.  

Wilson retired from the NFL just two years into his career at the age of 23. Team doctors advised Wilson not to play again, and he agreed. 

Dr. Andrew Hecht — spine surgical consultant for the New York Jets and New York Islanders and a member of the NFL Brain and Spine Committee — said in an interview with The Austin Chronicle dated Jan. 23, 2013, players with spinal stenosis do not need to retire. 

“Congenital spinal stenosis is not a [reason to withhold] playing football,” he said. 

Agnew said he played in 13 games at SIUC with the injury. In that time, Agnew had 239 touches. 

In Agnew’s two years as a Saluki, he played 19 games with 2,037 all purpose yards and 19 touchdowns. 

Before SIUC Agnew competed at Oregon State, where he amassed 692 rushing yards and six touchdowns, including a game with 223 yards and three touchdowns.  

Agnew said he will miss the sport but is lucky to be healthy. 

“[Football] seems like it ended too soon, and I’ll miss it more than I can bear,” he said. “I still am truly blessed to be healthy.” 

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @brentmeskeDE. 

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