MANKATO — As Kenechi Udeze battled leukemia last year the defensive end remained optimistic that he would not only beat the disease but return to the NFL for the 2009 season. Udeze’s dedication to get back following a bone marrow transplant last July was such that he spent the late winter and spring working out at Southern Cal and took part in the Vikings’ offseason practices.
That’s why it was a surprise when the Vikings placed Udeze on their reserve/retired list today. Udeze doesn’t feel like talking to the media at this point — who can blame him — but he did issue a statement this afternoon.
“My leukemia is still in remission and I am well,” Udeze said in the statement. “Unfortunately, however, I have decided to retire due to certain side effects from my pre-transplant treatment. I would like to thank the Wilf family and the Minnesota Vikings organization for their support. I would also like to thank my fans, friends and family for supporting me through everything. Last but not least, I would like to thank all of the medical professionals and staff in Minnesota who worked tirelessly to give me a second chance at life. God bless.”
Eventually, I’m sure Udeze will address the issue in greater detail but for now he deserves the right to handle this situation at his own pace.I’m sure Vikings coach Brad Childress will talk about Udeze at his 3:30 p.m. news conference. Udeze was a first-round pick of the Vikings in 2004 out of USC and spent four seasons with the team. He started 47 of the 51 regular-season games in which he played. He had five sacks as a rookie and also added five more in 2007.