Newman ponders future

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Bengals cornerback Terence Newman clapped his shoulder pads on an unsuspecting media member, pounded on them lightly to rattle the poor soul, pronounced them too big, lifted them off and then carried them away in what might have been his last act as professional football player.

Newman now has to decide if the pads still fit him. He revealed Monday he is pondering retirement after his 12th season ended in the AFC Wild Card loss to the Colts and may very well end his career-reviving three-year stint in Cincinnati.

"I think Barry Sanders did it best. He just said, 'Hey, this isn't for me anymore.' He was probably one of the only people that ever went out on his own terms; he wasn't forced out age-wise or whatever. He just called it quits because he wanted to. He's probably the only person I can think of that ever did that."

Newman, 36, likes the sound of that. But he also likes the sound of "Super Bowl champion," as he heads into free agency.

"We'll be in contact," Newman said of the Bengals. "See what happens. But like I said, they could contact me and I could say, 'Hey I've had my last game.' Like I said, I'll figure it out."

Newman, the ultimate pro with the 50-year-old mind and 26-year-old body, played brilliantly during the first part of this season before he missed three of the last seven games with a knee injury, an ankle injury, and a severe illness that knocked him out of the last regular-season game in Pittsburgh that sapped him of 10 pounds. ProFootballFocus.com rated him 56 out of 108 NFL cornerbacks, although he gave up only two touchdowns.

The Bengals chose to rotate their corners on Sunday with Newman recovering and the other starter, Leon Hall, "Not feeling too well,' according to one of his mates. Third corner Adam Jones took most of the snaps, 58, Newman was second with 43, Hall took 39, Dre Kirkpatrick 32, and rookie Darqueze Dennard 16.

It reflects the confidence they have in two of their last four first-rounders, Kirkpatrick and Dennard, and Kirkpatrick would no doubt replace Newman after a strong second half of the season. On Monday, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Kirkpatrick has proven he's a starter. With those two in reserve and Newman turning 37 a few days before next year's opener, it's hard to see him re-upping in Cincinnati.

But there is mutual respect. He thinks this team can win it all.

"I definitely do. This team has a better chance than some of the other teams that didn't make the playoffs and didn't have the greatest of seasons," Newman said. "The foundation is there for sure. You've got good coaches, you've got good players. It's just about being consistent and doing things and making plays when the opportunity arises.

"I had ups and downs, like pretty much everybody else I guess. The crazy part is we literally thought we were going to win this game. So that's still set in my mind. Take a little time and figure it out," Newman said of his season. "It's just how I feel. Not getting any younger. Maybe start a family or something. Run around and chase kids instead of chasing receivers. That wouldn't be bad, right?"

Newman came to Cincinnati in 2012 after nine seasons in Dallas in a reunion with then Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.  While Zimmer was the Cowboys defensive coordinator in 2003, he had a huge hand in making Newman the fifth pick in the draft and Newman credited him with nurturing him to two Pro Bowls. When the Cowboys cut him after the 2011 season, Zimmer was in Cincinnati and Newman was convinced he could revive his career.

It was a two-way street. Newman flourished under his old mentor and the Bengals found a top-flight corner to go opposite Hall, a spot that had been vacant since Johnathan Joseph signed with Houston before the '11 season. Newman has started 41 games for the Bengals and started a playoff game all three years.

"You go from one team to another, you want to prove you can do the things you know you can still do," Newman said. "Everybody writes you off. Obviously you want to prove those people wrong. So Zim took a chance on me. He was instrumental in me getting to play some good football."

Newman proved he could still more than play.

"I think I did. I felt like I did," he said. "Anytime you can be in the playoffs three years in a row, you have to help a little bit."

Now he has to decide if his own terms outweigh another shot at a Super Bowl.

"I don't feel bad. I had a couple of bumps and bruises, got sick and lost like 10 pounds and felt like I was going to die," Newman said. "Other than that, I don't feel bad at all. So part of the checklist is you have to question if you had a game on Sunday would you be able to play, and I'd be able to play."

Newman has seen teammates retire and he still thinks he's in pretty good shape all the way around.

"It was more so waking up and wanting to go to meetings and how the body was," Newman said. "Knees gave out or ankles gave out or shoulders or whatever it was, and that was part of their deciding factor. The body just gave out. I'm still sound in mind, sound in body."

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