The end of an era in the Bronco backfield reached reality today as sources have informed the Broncos Update that Howard Griffith plans on announcing his retirement within the next few days.
Griffith, who has been plagued by a severe pain in the right side of his neck since training camp began, visited with specialists in both Denver and Los Angeles, hoping for an answer to his unexplained problem. Unfortunately the answers were not what the eleven-year veteran wanted to hear.
While the causes of the pain remain undetermined, the bottom line remains that Griffith will be sidelined for a minimum of three to six weeks, a proposition that Griffith is apparently not willing to settle for.
The potential consequence of further injury is also something that warrants heavy consideration, with the risks come far short of outweighing the benefits.
"Anytime you have a neck injury of any type, you have to think about and weigh out the circumstances involved, said Broncos trainer Steve Antonopulous.
In his place the Broncos plan on using newcomer tight end Patrick Hape, who played a limited amount of time at the fullback position while with he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's gonna be a tough process for him, we're trying to throw the whole playbook at him," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "He's got bits and pieces of it and has worked extremely hard at trying to get it down, I would be real surprised if he doesn't play real well."
While Griffith and his agent both refuse to comment on the situation, the Broncos are directed in finding a full time replacement, and temporarily Hape fits the bill.
Backing up Hape will be rookie Mike Stack, who only a few short weeks ago seemed like a long shot to make the team, let alone fill in as the number two man.
"I'm very excited," Stack told reporters. "I just keep getting in the book, and studying the film, trying to be as prepared as I can be."
That preparation begins its' first test this Saturday night as the Broncos travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in their first preseason game of the 2001 season.