Super Bowl week means remembering the one that got away
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.
| February 1, 2011; 9:29 AM ET
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