ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Rich Gannon might lose a second straight season to injury.
The 2002 NFL MVP has a broken vertebra in his neck that will sideline him at least six weeks. The Oakland Raiders quarterback underwent an MRI exam
Monday morning and was taken for further tests. Coach Norv Turner didn't believe Gannon was at risk for paralysis and said the quarterback was walking
around the team's training facility before receiving the news about his neck.
"He will be out an extended period. A six-weeks deal, or maybe longer," Turner said. "It's disappointing. ... It makes you sick to your stomach when
any player puts as much into it as Rich has."
Turner said it would be premature to speculate whether Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP, would end up on injured reserve for the second straight season. He
hadn't told his team about Gannon's status before the Raiders broke team meetings for the day Monday afternoon. Gannon was unavailable for comment
"Are you kidding me?" running back Amos Zereoue said when learning of the news. "It's very unfortunate. He prepared himself to get ready for the
season. I don't know what to say. ... It's part of the game. That's why the next man has to step up. Kerry (Collins) did that and we have to lean on
him to guide us."
The 38-year-old Gannon left in the first quarter of Oakland's 30-20 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday night after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from
linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Gannon ran for 2 yards during the Raiders' first offensive series and was stopped at the Bucs 5 by Brooks. Gannon grimaced in pain, but walked off the
field on his own, looking groggy.
He was taken to the locker room for examination of his back, then returned to the sideline in the second half.
"One comment Rich made to me this morning was, 'I know better,"' Turner said of running in that situation. "It was a heck of a hit."
Turner said he wouldn't discourage his QBs from running or scrambling, although Collins is unlikely to do that.
Gannon was hurt in a 17-10 loss to Kansas City last Oct. 20 and had shoulder surgery in November. He has said this offseason was one of the most
productive in his 17-year career as he worked his way back after surgery.
"Unfortunately he went down before we had a chance to get on a roll. He's one of those guys I think is going to rehab and try to get back before six
weeks," left guard Frank Middleton said. "He likes proving people wrong. I really think he'll be back before they say he's ready."