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Posted at 9:29 AM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Super Bowl week means remembering the one that got away

By LaVar Arrington

It's Super Bowl week, and as we prepare to watch what I believe will be a very entertaining game, I can't help but wonder what it would've been like to play in the biggest game of the year.

My uniform would've been perfect: my towel hanging just right, my cleats so clean with the spat on it. During the introductions, I would've pumped up the crowd before going out there and making 20 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions, forcing 2 fumbles and recovering one for a touchdown. As the game's MVP, I would have driven off with a new Escalade truck.

Okay, so maybe that's unrealistic, but hey, in my own perfect world, I always dreamed it could happen, and I believed if my team had made it, I would have had the game of my life.

I'm so truly blessed and thankful that I even had the chance to play in the National Football League, an opportunity so many never have. Unfortunately, I never made it to a Super Bowl, a small but harsh reality that over time I've accepted but never forgotten.

I can remember being drafted in 2000 and how I couldn't believe that I was joining a team on the cusp of winning a championship.The Washington Redskins seemed to have all of the pieces in place to make a real run, but as fate would have it, our team underachieved, and we didn't even make the playoffs.

It's funny how things work. At the end of that season, I said the only way I would see a Super Bowl in person was if I was playing in it. That motivation drove me to push my body to the outer limits in workouts in the offseason, practices and in games.

Six years in Washington came and went and no rings to show for it.

Well when I became a free agent, I naturally wanted to find a team that was heading in the right direction. I knew my time was limited, so I needed to be a part of a team that was ready to compete right away. Well, I went to New York to play for the Giants. After meeting with the owners and the coaches, I felt this was the perfect situation for me, and I was right.

Fate has a way of forcing you to make decision. For me, I blew my Achilles' tendon and was out after just five games, and the team went on to make the playoffs. So I was faced with trying to rehab my legs because my knees were already bad and now an Achilles too. I told my coaches I would honor my contract but that I was in pain. The Giants, being the great organization that they are, released me from the contract with no questions ask, and that was it for me and football.

It was the right move to make. I said good-bye to football and hello to life. Retirement sounded good to me: more time at home with my wife and kids, with twins on the way, and a boatload of money in the bank.

Life was all good until I saw the Giants win the Super Bowl the very next year. I have to admit I was sick to my stomach watching the time tick away in their upset of the undefeated New England Patriots. A tidal wave of emotions came over me, and for a moment, I was overwhelmed with heartache and disappointment. I was happy for my teammates that day, and at the very least, I found comfort in knowing that if I had been healthy I would've played in the playoffs in my first season and a Super Bowl in the next.

No crying over spilled milk. I took it all in stride, and believe me I have no regrets. My conclusion is if I want to go see a Super Bowl, I will. And maybe, just maybe, a LaVar Arrington will play in a Super Bowl one day. It will just be LaVar the second, not the first.

By LaVar Arrington  | February 1, 2011; 9:29 AM ET
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Not exactly how it went LaVar. Look man you can sit on air and lament about your love for the game. But the truth is you lived up to probably 50% of your potential. Blaim the achillies if you must, but I reacall you falling off a crotch rocket and slamming into a guard rail. Every day we get the privlage of listening to you distort your past for 5 hours. And now we have a column to read about it also. If you had the heart for the game you would have not only led us to the promise land, but you wouldn't have allowed your self to be manipulated by the Potson con's. #56 could have been a sacred jersey around here, instead it's a cheap wash rag you can find at any local marshalls.

Posted by: wynnebs | February 1, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Ouch, that last dude was pretty harsh!

But yeah, LaVar, you seem to write about these things as if they just kinda happened to you (you mention "fate" twice), when in fact you participated in making it happen.

I mean, if you really wanted to play in a Super Bowl, you should have listened to your coaches more, played more disciplined, been a better leader by example, etc.

Certainly, players worse than you have won SB titles, so you can chalk that up to luck. But OTOH, you could have done more to make it happen for yourself, don't you agree? And then maybe you wouldn't have these regrets.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | February 1, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Whats with all this hate? Did I walk into the Player Haters Ball? Where's Buc Nasty?
Everybody's got regrets and 'what ifs'. In the end you would have had another great memory to pour over and another paragraph on your wiki page. Being home with those kids will impact more lives positively than any Championship game ever will.

Posted by: HomelessZombie | February 1, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

These haters are being ignorant. NFL players are not superheroes that never get hurt and can play the game as long as they want, Lavar is no different. He played his hardest when he was with the Skins. He led by example and gave it his all, that was never the question. Sometimes teams just don't make it no matter how hard they play. He does not deserve all the scrutiny he gets for leaving. He played for what, almost 7 years? His knees were screwed and so was his achilles tendon. He made enough money to live like a king for the rest of his life, why should he keep himself in pain? I'm thankful that he played here and yes I do wish he was still playing with us, but if he says he can't, why should I not believe him?

Sometimes I do think about if our defense still had Lavar and Sean Taylor and how they were lost unfairly to us, either by injury or unfortunate death. The day will come when we have more than just one Lavar on our team and then when he leaves a Sean Taylor shows up. We will have the team with more than one stud like Sean or Lavar and when we do, it will be a proud day for the Redskins. Fans need to start acting like fans, quit all the childish hate.

Posted by: issapunk | February 1, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh LaVar ...It dismays me to think you actually believe the dribble coming out of your own mouth ... When you came here I was one Happy Fan ...Finally The Redskins with a difference maker in tow ...I went to the last training camp of Spurriers & watched you make an ass of yourself in practice ...saw you stand on the sidelines having a good old time the next year under Coach Gibbs ...I am gonna quote the previous comment "if you really wanted to play in a Super Bowl, you should have listened to your coaches more, played more disciplined, been a better leader by example, etc." Please stop patting yourself on the back ....leave that to others!! My Mother always told me one who blows his own horn plays a sour tune ...Well that is true ...But in your case it just proves you Blow

Posted by: goodfella616 | February 2, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised about the negative responses to Lavar's article. Give him a break. He's reflecting on his career and his thoughts about never having played in a Super Bowl. Credit to him for being willing to share his thoughts and feelings, especially those relative to watching the Giants win the Super Bowl in what would have been his second season in New York. Thanks for the article, Lavar, and thanks for your hard play as a Redskin. You weren't the reason that the Redskins didn't make it to a Super Bowl during your time in burgundy and gold. Any real Redskins fan knows that much.

Posted by: TAS172226 | February 2, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

As far as am concerned you were never great not even good redskins LB. you had that one hit on Troy A. and you felt like you've arrived. You never did anything special here in D.C. you just have these moron fans cheering you for making a simple tackle.Go blow gaints fans. hola

Posted by: woworakpo | February 3, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

LaVar was one of the most exciting warriors that ever strapped on a Skins jersey. My son wore his number his first year in peewee football. I've always imagined how viscous my mob what've went if LaVar, Taylor, Champ B, Landry and Fletcher came rumbling out of the tunnel!
I LOVE MY TEAM! We appreciate EVERYTHING you did and do LaVar!
Go Skins!

Posted by: BLACKBEAR2010 | February 3, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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