Friday, April 30, 2004 Associated Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Doctors have diagnosed Jaguars quarterback David Garrard with Crohn's disease, an intestinal ailment that sent him to the hospital last week and left him sidelined Friday for the start of the team's minicamp. Crohn's disease causes blockage in the intestines. The cause of the illness is unknown and there is no known cure. Crohn's disease causes chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and weight loss. It afflicts more than 500,000 people in the United States. Garrard, a third-year veteran, said he started feeling sick in January. After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed with Crohn's on March 23. He has since lost about 10 pounds. Last week, medicine he had been taking to combat the illness lost effectiveness and he had to be hospitalized. He opted against surgery to alleviate the blockage and instead went on a relatively new medicine, Remicade, that removes a type of protein from the bloodstream that can cause the inflammation. Garrard said he was feeling fine Friday, but is sitting out because he's not in playing shape. "It feels like I'm walking in mud right now," Garrard said. "I'm healthy, not having any problems, eating right. I'm just trying to get my legs back." While not considered life-threatening, Crohn's can stay in a person's system for years, and patients can relapse at any time. Doctors have assured Garrard that playing football won't put him at any risk because of the disease. "It's going to do whatever it's going to do on its own," Garrard said. "Football isn't going to bring it back or keep it away." The Jaguars signed free-agent quarterback Doug Johnson earlier this week. In Friday morning's workout, Johnson took several snaps that would have gone to Garrard. Coach Jack Del Rio said the signing had nothing to do with Garrard's health. "I thought it was a great opportunity to bring in a quarterback and strengthen ourselves at that position," Del Rio said. Garrard conceded he was scared before he knew what was wrong. Now, however, he's looking at the bright side: He's eating better, has lost weight and is happy because the illness isn't as serious as it could have been. "It's bigger than football," he said. "It's just how I'm going to be from now on."