Arrington's 'Showcase' Ended Early by Injury
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
IRVING, Tex. -- New York Giants players and coaches whooped and hollered as they jogged up the tunnel leading from the field to the visitor's locker room at Texas Stadium late Monday night. They had just beaten the Dallas Cowboys to reclaim first place in the NFC East and make their early-season struggles a fading memory, and it was time to celebrate and then hurriedly dress and pack for the late-night flight home.
But their glee was tempered by the sight that greeted them as the door swung open to the cramped locker room. There stood linebacker LaVar Arrington, already dressed in blue sweat clothes and perched on crutches alongside a row of lockers. He did his best not to be downcast, smiling as teammates came by to pat him on the shoulder or offer words of encouragement.
The other members of the Giants knew that Arrington was hurting, emotionally and physically, after having his first season with the team ended with a torn left Achilles' tendon on a second-quarter running play.
"That's the one thing that's sad," Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said soon after the game. "That's a sad moment for a guy who's really been improving week in and week out and made an impact" on Monday.
Arrington said he will undergo surgery and faces about six months of rehabilitation.
"I knew where I came from and where I was headed," he said. "For it to end like this, it hurts. But I have to stay positive. We have a good team. We have good chemistry here. Good things can happen. . . . I knew this was a game I was going to shine, my showcase. God doesn't want me to shine that much, I guess. I've just got to wait a little longer."
Arrington's progress had been slow since he signed with the Giants after buying out the remainder of his contract with the Washington Redskins in the offseason to become a free agent. But he had two eye-catching plays Monday, sacking Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe for a safety and deflecting a pass that might have resulted in a Dallas touchdown if it had gotten past him.
"I knew it was coming," Arrington said as he stood in the locker room after the game. "I knew it. I just knew how I felt and how I was getting more comfortable with everything. I knew this would be a showcase game for me. But everything happens for a reason. I firmly believe that."
Arrington said he initially thought a player had plowed into the back of his leg when he felt a pop there. But no one had, and Arrington soon realized that the injury was serious.
He was plagued by knee problems in the latter stages of his Redskins tenure, and said another knee injury might have forced him to consider retirement. But the Giants' doctor told him Monday that this is an injury from which he can make a complete comeback, Arrington said, and he indicated he plans to resume his career.
"I'll beat it," Arrington said. "I won't let it beat me. . . . I'm a positive guy. I'm not going to be sad. Things happen, and they happen for a reason. It could have been worse. It could have been [a torn knee ligament]. I could have torn up both knees. They assured me it's an injury you can come back from. . . . Unfortunately, it happened. I have to be a man and deal with it."