Kansas City, Mo. Mike Maslowski, whose hard work took him from an obscure Division Three team to a starting job as Kansas City's middle linebacker, was released Tuesday because of continuing injury problems.
The Chiefs said they hoped the 6-foot-2, 243-pound Wisconsin native could resume his career.
"We don't think this represents the conclusion to Mike's NFL career," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. "By releasing him at this time, we give him the opportunity to return to the Chiefs in the future if he can get himself ready to play."
Maslowski underwent an unusual operation Sept. 29 to correct the alignment of his left knee. He missed all of last season as well as the latter part of 2003.
While he rehabbed, the Chiefs upgraded their linebacking corps. Kawika Mitchell, a second-year middle linebacker, has looked good in training camp and seems to have solidified his hold on the job.
Maslowski played at tiny Wisconsin-La Crosse and was a Division Three All-American in 1996. He joined the Chiefs as a free agent in 1999 and had 311 tackles in his career, including a franchise-record 162 during 2002.
"Mike Maslowski has been an extremely important player for this franchise since '99," Peterson said. "He has grown with the Chiefs from his days as an NCAA Division Three player, through NFL Europe, to starting linebacker and the most prolific tackler in a single season for this team. I don't think it's a coincidence that our defense began to decline when we lost Mike to injury in 2003."
With amazing endurance, Maslowski played in 30 professional football games in 1999, seeing action in 11 with the Barcelona Dragons in Europe and then 19 preseason and regular-season games with the Chiefs.
He was a landslide winner of the Mack Lee Hill Award in 1999, given annually to the team's top first-year player.
The Chiefs had kept him on the physically unable to perform list, hoping he would recover enough to come back.
Maslowski has been active in the Kansas City community.
"Since he joined us in 1999, he's been an exemplary player on and off the field," Peterson said.
Kansas City also reached a one-year contract deal Tuesday with free-agent quarterback Jonathan Quinn, though no terms were released.
Quinn played in five games for the Chicago Bears last season and in a dozen NFL games during previous posts in Jacksonville and Kansas City.
During two seasons with the Chiefs, in 2002 and 2003, he was listed as the third quarterback.