Redskin tight end Jean Fugett is expected to be fully recovered by the time training camp opens in mid-July from an operation to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
The Redskins made no formal announcement at the time of the surgery Wednesday. Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday, "It was basically a simple operation, his knee had been bothering him for awhile and he just decided to go ahead and have it done."
Fugett led the Redskins in receptions (34) and touchdowns (five) in 1977 and was named to the pro Bowl squad after the season.
While Pardee is saying publicly he anticipates no problems in Fugett's recovery, there is some concern in the organization because Fugett is the only tight end on the Redskin roster with NFL experiece. And as Fugett said yesterday, "There's no such thing as a simple knee operation."
Jerry Smith, Fugett's backup each of the last two seasons, has announced his retirement. He was the only other tight end on the active roster last year. Reggie Haynes, the Redskins' seventh-round draft choice in 1977, spent last season on the injured reserve list.
Pardee said yesterday he would have preferred that Fugett have the surgery immediately after the season. "There was a question of whether he needed it or not. He wanted to see if the problem would go away and apparently it didn't," Pardee said.
Fugett said yesterday there were "a variety of reasons for putting it off. Basically, I didn't really want to do it. It just took a while for me to decide that it was really necessary. Up until last week, I had never spent a night in a hospital. I also had some nerve damage on the outside and I though that was getting better."
"I had a test done after the Pro Bowl, and it showed a tear in the catilage. It didn't really hurt, but there was always the possibility that it could lock. When that happens to you well, a lot of people don't recover.
"But the big thing is I had been healthy for six years, and I guess I was just reluctant to admit I needed a little maintenance on the body."
Fugett will have his stitches removed later this week and will begin rehabilitation at Redskin Park the following week. Team Trainer Bubba Tyer said the normal period for full recovery is six to eight weeks.
"Actually it came at a pretty good time," Fugett said. "I had a break in classes (Fugett attends George Washington University Law School) and now I've got some time to study for my finals. And I've got plenty of time to rehabilitate."
There was only one regret. Fugett, who also works as a sports commentator for WTOP-TV-9, wanted to have his operation filmed for use in a feature he was planning on athletes rehabilitating their injuries. Officials at Sibley Hospital refused.