When hearing Armstrong talk Wednesday, however, there is not exactly a feeling of full-certainty that he will return after his season ended for the third year in a row on injured reserve last Thursday. The thought of retirement has clearly crossed his mind.
Armstrong will have operations on his right elbow and right shoulder. He may possibly have surgery on his left shoulder surgery, which would extend his career total to 17 procedures.
Armstrong injured his shoulder in the Raiders 28-18 win over Minnesota on Nov. 16. Armstrong said he hit Viking quarterback Daunte Culpepper and landed funny.
"I can almost dress myself now," Armstrong quipped as he was putting on his shirt.
The Raiders signed Armstrong as a free agent before the 2001 regular season after amassing an AFC-high 16.5 sacks for the Miami Dolphins in 2000. Oakland did not appear to be a gamble on Armstrong, who had never missed any significant time due to injury. Armstrong's career in Oakland, however, has been marred by injury.
"These three years have been the toughest of my career," Armstrong said. "I've never experienced anything like this. I'm tired of it. ... I've got to face the reality part of it. I'm 38 years old. I've played a long time. A body has its limits. It makes you think, ‘Have I reached that limit?'"
In 2001, he landed on injured reserve after rupturing his Achilles tendon in a Week 3 win over Seattle. Last season, he was put on injured reserve after sustaining a groin injury in a Week 16 win over Denver.
"The biggest thing I feel is that I've let this organization down," Armstrong said. "I was brought in here to give them something and I haven't been able to give it."
Armstrong has tallied 104 career sacks, third on the active list behind Bruce Smith and John Randle.
"I've still got to get a fair amount of work done over the next month or so," Armstrong said. "The body sometimes tells you things and I may be at that point."
Armstrong added that he will likely discuss the possibility of retirement with his wife but there is no timetable regarding any decision of that nature. He traveled with the team to Kansas City Sunday and plans to be present at the Raiders remaining games. Armstrong, however, continued with some statements appearing in the past tense.
"If this is it, I feel like I gave the game all it had," Armstrong said. "I don't leave with any regret."
One thing is for certain; Armstrong is a well-respected and well-spoken individual who has several potential post-career opportunities. He currently serves as the president for the NFL Player's Association.
"That's kind of my nature," Armstrong said. "I'm a pretty restless guy intellectually."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com