Football

NFL notes: Draft bust Leaf might need radiation to treat brain tumor

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf said Thursday he could face radiation treatments if the part of a brain tumor that couldn't be removed by doctors winds up getting bigger.

Leaf told The Associated Press that the California doctor who performed the surgery couldn't get all of the tumor because parts were wrapped around brain-stem nerves that affect swallowing and shoulder movement. Doctors said the tumor was benign.

"We're going to monitor it and, if it starts to grow again, then we're going to have to do a six-week round of radiation," Leaf said in a phone interview from California.

Before the tumor was discovered, Leaf said, he was upset because he was "dead sober" but still felt like he was "hung over all the time." The 35-year-old Leaf was addicted to painkillers a few years ago.

He'd run a few miles or work out and feel better. The result, he surmised, was from increased oxygen in his blood. A short time later, he'd "just hit a wall again."

He said he never thought his hydrocodone abuse caused the tumor, and his doctors agreed.

The San Diego Chargers made Leaf the second pick of the 1998 NFL Draft after the Indianapolis Colts drafted Peyton Manning No. 1. Leaf, who threw for 3,666 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career, is considered one of the league's biggest busts before later struggling with drugs.

NFL, players meet again

The NFL's labor dispute has reached another critical stage. The league and its players completed three straight days of not-so-secret negotiations Thursday and now head for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis for a hearing that could prove pivotal in the nearly three-month lockout.

The three-judge panel will decide whether the lockout should continue, and Commissioner Roger Goodell and union chief DeMaurice Smith are expected to be inside the courtroom on Friday.

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