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Broncos’ Noel Has Bad Disc Injury

August 18, 1999 GMT

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) _ Denver Broncos free safety Tori Noel was diagnosed Wednesday with a herniated disc, an injury that might be career threatening,

It was the second time the second-year player has had such an injury.

The Broncos said surgery would mean Noel would be lost for the year if not longer.

``Tori has a herniated disc between the fifth and sixth vertebrae before,″ Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. ``Now he has the same thing between the sixth and seventh vertebrae.″

Noel collided with running back Olandis Gary on Wednesday at an early morning practice.

Gary jumped up immediately and returned to the huddle but Noel did not.

The 24-year-old lay motionless on his back and remained that way as team trainer Steve Antonopulos and his staff attended to him. He was later taken away by ambulance.

``Tori got a shot right in the back of his neck,″ Shanahan said. ``He went down.″

According to Gary, the injury came at the end of a routine goal line running play.

``I was making a second effort just to get into the end zone,″ Gary said. ``He pulled up on the play thinking the play was over and left himself defenseless.″

The good news was that no paralysis is involved. However, Shanahan said doctors feel they must fix the herniated disc.

``Chances are he is going to need an operation,″ Shanahan said. ``Dr. Richard Hawkins will give us an update if he is going to need surgery.

``We’ve had three or four come back after a herniated disc and played again,″ Shanahan said. ``I can’t say I know anybody that has come back after two.″