A Player's Thankful Day : Pro football: Bengal quarterback Jay Schroeder's youngest son was home with the family for Thanksgiving after a benign brain tumor was removed last week.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jay Schroeder spent this Thanksgiving far removed from his former home in California.

He spent it far removed from his role as the Raiders' starting quarterback. He is a reserve for the Cincinnati Bengals.

But Schroeder could not be happier spending the holiday at his temporary residence in northern Kentucky, eating a traditional dinner with his wife, Debbie, and sons Brian, 9, and Chris, 6.

A week ago, Schroeder wondered whether such an experience was possible.

Chris lay in a hospital with a brain tumor.

"It all happened pretty sudden," said Schroeder, who moved his family from outside of San Diego when he signed with the Bengals as a free agent in the offseason.

The tumor was removed in an operation last Friday and found to be benign.

"He's doing good," Schroeder said. "Every day, he's doing better and better. We will have to continue to keep an eye on him, but he's on the road to recovery.

"The last week has been mentally tough, believe me. I wouldn't want anybody to have to go through that."

Schroeder returned to the Bengals on Wednesday and participated in Thursday's morning practice in preparation for Sunday's game in Cincinnati against the Raiders.

"We are super thankful and feel blessed for everything that has happened and that our son has come home," he said before heading home for dinner.

Schroeder does not talk about the proper perspective of football. He has always known where football figures in his life.

When he was a Raider, he traveled to Poway on his day off to be with his family, and even coached a youth team.

Schroeder played at UCLA and spent four seasons with the Washington Redskins before being traded to the Raiders in 1988. He also played in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. And they have all remembered the Schroeders in their time of need.

"We want to thank everybody for their prayers of support and their understanding from across the country," Schroeder said. "We feel good that many people care about us. The Bengals have been very good to us, the Raiders' front office has been very supportive and we've heard from Washington."

Schroeder missed Cincinnati's game in East Rutherford, N.J., last Sunday against the Jets. He called Coach Dave Shula on Sunday night and said he needed more time away. Shula told him to take as much as he wanted.

Shula has a lot of respect for Schroeder. With all the problems the 0-10 Bengals have had, the last thing Shula wanted to deal with was a former starting quarterback who couldn't accept a secondary role.

Shula made it plain from the day Cincinnati signed Schroeder that David Klinger was the starter.

And Schroeder accepted those conditions.

"Jay right from the start has been a very positive influence on Dave Klinger and the other players on the club," Shula said. "He's got a tremendous worth ethic."

Schroeder got his chance when a sore back sidelined Klinger. Schroeder has started three games and has completed 50.4% of his passes for 734 yards, with five touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

Interceptions were a big factor in Schroeder's downfall with the Raiders. He had 11 last season, matching his touchdown total.

But Schroeder wasn't worried about touchdowns or interceptions Thursday.

He was happy doing what millions of Americans were doing, eating dinner with his whole family.

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