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Chiefster
07-30-2007, 07:12 PM
Priest Holmes says he has come back from harder hits in his life.
There was, for instance, the time as a teenager in San Antonio when young Holmes got in a fight with a neighbor.
"The guy runs off to his garage, I chase him, and the next thing I know, he comes out with a bat and hits me in the head," Holmes related. "Well, I got off the ground after that. I think if I can come back from that, I can take a hit."
San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman didn't hit Holmes with a bat. It just felt that way on Oct. 30, 2005 the last time Priest Holmes played, or even spent much time with, the Kansas City Chiefs. The head and neck injuries he sustained that day seemed to have ended Holmes career when he spent the entire 2006 season on the sideline in his San Antonio home.
But 22 months later (by Holmes' count), the Chiefs career leader in rushing, touchdowns, runs from scrimmage and 100-yard games stepped back on the practice field before a small army of cameras recording every step on his conditioning work at the team's River Falls, Wis., training camp.
In surprising the Chiefs with his announced intention to play football again after 1 1/2 seasons of inactivity, Holmes removed some of the spotlight from Larry Johnson's training camp holdout and the absence of unsigned first-round draft pick Dwayne Bowe.
Indeed, while the team conducted a Sunday morning special teams practice in the University of Wisconsin-River Falls stadium, the attention of most fans and virtually the entire press corps was on Holmes running wind sprints with other rehabbing players on an outside field.
Why come back now after nearly two years in which he spent very, very little time around his teammates? In a typically rambling discourse, Holmes talked about providing leadership as part of his motivation to return to football.
"In order to make this team an entire entity, it takes several of its parts coming back to the field. I'm one of them," he said.
"If I can come back after 22 months and get back to the field and show people that you can carry on despite any obstacle, that will mean something to this team."
The always cryptic Holmes said he really hadn't thought about returning until having a dream some six days before the opening of camp.
"I don't know why, but I saw myself playing football," he said. "After that I went to my children and asked them if they could see my playing football again, and they said yes.
"Then, after the dream, comes the self-doubt. You're too old, you can't do this. You've been off so long, why in the world would you want to come back? Athletes coming out of college are getting bigger and stronger; why would you want to face that?"
Well, there is a matter of salary. The Chiefs paid Holmes $870,000 last year on a restructured contract even when he didn't play. He has no such guarantees this year, however.
Holmes downplayed the suggestion that he was taking advantage of the absence of Johnson, the understudy who became a star when Holmes went down. He admitted there is no guarantee that after at least three to four weeks of conditioning work he can put on the pads and again be a complete running back.
"Without struggle, there is no purpose," he said in a classic Priest Platitude. "And I will definitely struggle over these next four weeks. Will I be the same runner as I was? That remains to be seen. But I know this: the hard work will be there.
"That which you believe in your heart, the body can achieve."

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