December 23, 2002
BASED ON MEDICAL
EVALUATIONS, NORTHERN ILLINOIS TB THOMAS HAMMOCK ENDS PLAYING CAREER
DeKALB, IL --- That
dream Northern Illinois University football backfield featuring 1,000-yard
tailbacks Thomas Hammock and Michael Turner will never happen.
Based on recent medical
re-evaluation, plus consultation with head football coach Joe Novak, head
athletics trainer Phil Voorhis, and family members, Hammock will hang
up his No. 28 Huskie jersey for good and refrain from competing in football
due to a heart-related condition.
With school closed
for sememster break, Hammock made the announcement Monday (December 23)
from his parents home in Fort Wayne, IN.
not an exact science, Hammock said. It is in my best interests
not to play football anymore. This is a long-term situation versus a short-term
situation. I am not willing to jeopardize my future. I will miss the game
of football and my teammates. Football has been part of my life for a
long time. Ive made friendships that I will have for a lifetime.
This has been
on my mind since I stopped playing after the Wake Forest game. I want
to thank my family, the coaching staff, my teammates, and the university
community. Everybody has been supportive in every way. The coaching staff
gave me a great opportunity. I wasnt that highly regarded coming
out of high school. I really appreciate that and the opportunity to play
and receive a good education at Northern Illinois.
Hammock, his mother,
and Voorhis visited cardiovascular specialists last Wednesday (December
18) at the Minneapolis Heart Institute where the two-time First-Team Academic
All-America pick underwent a series of tests in September. Voorhis indicated
that the original condition---an enlarged muscle mass on the left side
of Hammocks heart---had not changed. The specialists originally
thought that holding Hammock out of practice and games would reduce that
Local and regional
heart specialists made this recommendation, Voorhis said. Its
unfortunate that Thomas career has come to an end. As with all cardiac
conditions, it is important that Thomas sought medical advice for the
chest pains and breathing problems he encountered. Fortunately, Thomas
will be able to lead a normal life with restrictions on competitive athletics.
After Northern Illinois
42-41 overtime victory over Wake Forest University in the season opener
on August 29, Hammock (Fort Wayne, IN / Bishop Luers) suffered from some
breathing problems and chest discomfort. In that game, the 5-foot-8, 211-pound
Hammock led all rushers with 172 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries
and earned Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the
Week honors. The performance versus WFU marked the 12th 100-yard game
of his career. The next week, Hammock was withheld from practices and
started getting medical opinions.
A preseason candidate
for the prestigious Doak Walker National Runningback Award and a Street
& Smiths College Football Honorable Mention All-America pick,
Hammock came off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing campaigns (1,083 yards
in 2000 and 1,096 yards in 2001), made First-Team All-MAC those two years,
and doubled as a College Sports Information Directors of America First-Team
Academic All-America in those seasons. Since the 1982-83 academic year,
only two major-college rushers---Hammock and former Virginia All-America
runningback Tiki Barber---had gained 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons
and won First-Team Academic All-America
What do you
say about a Thomas Hammock, his many contributions, and what he means
to our football program and this institution? He accomplished so much
on the field and in the classroom here, Novak said. Twice
First-Team Academic All-America and All-MAC. Thomas had an outstanding
career here. He was a great leader and team player. All of us are glad
that his condition was diagnosed at the time it was.
Hammock, a two-year
Huskie captain, finished his career with 2,432 career rushing yards in
32 varsity appearances and ranks No. 8 on the all-time Northern Illinois
career ground-gaining list. During his career, Hammock produced 12 100-yard
rushing performances and the Huskies won nine of those games. As a sophomore,
he wound up No. 6 in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division
1-A scoring with 96 points (10.7 per game), No. 12 nationally in rushing
(120.3 ypg. average), and tied a league record with five rushing touchdowns
in a 52-35 victory vs. Akron. Hammock gained a career-best 195 yards---including
108 in the final period---vs. Central Michigan in 2001.
graduated earlier this month---in three and a half years---with a degree
in marketing. He was named a Third-Team Arthur Ashe, Jr., Sports-Scholar
by Black Issues in Higher Education (2002) and made national runner-up
for the Playboy Anson Mount National Scholar-Athlete Award (2001, 2002).
In football, Hammock was NIUs initial First-Team Academic All-America.
As a prep, Hammock was picked the Area Athlete of the Year and led the
Summit Athletic Conference in rushing (1,775 yards and 28 TDs on 274 carries)
and scoring (168 points) for coach Matt Lindsay as a senior.
He made First-Team All-Area and First-Team Associated Press All-State
on a 7-5 Class 2A state playoff team in 1998.
(For further information,
please contact Mike Korcek) -30-