Knee Injury Sidelines Jason SehornTOM CANAVAN , Associated Press
Aug. 22, 1998 2:00 AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ The knot in Jim Fassel's stomach didn't allow the New York Giants coach to sleep much after losing star cornerback Jason Sehorn to a season-ending knee injury on a kickoff return.
It was an injury that bothered Giants players as much, but it's one the team now has to overcome, Fassel said Friday.
``We're a team and other parts have to pick it up to cover for that,'' Fassel said. ``The approach I have always taken with these guys is a can-do attitude as opposed to a woe-is-me attitude. That's imbedded in them now.''
Still some players said bluntly that the risk of losing Sehorn to injury wasn't worth the potential benefit of having one of the NFL's best cornerbacks return kickoffs.
Sehorn's season ended Thursday night when he sustained a knee injury on a game-opening kickoff return in a 27-23 preseason loss to the New York Jets at Giants Stadium.
Sehorn tore both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee after gaining 33 yards on his first pro kickoff return. Sehorn, who led the NFL East champion Giants with six interceptions last season, will have reconstructive surgery on his knee within 10 days.
``To think that it happened on something that he didn't necessarily have to do is what eats at me,'' defensive end Michael Strahan said. ``(He's) a guy that we need and a good guy, too.''
Neither Fassel nor Sehorn second-guessed their attempt to help the NFL's worst kickoff return unit.
Jets coach Bill Parcells supported them.
``You can't coach scared,'' he said. ``If you start protecting players, you'll lose every game. It's inconceivable to me not to use weapons when you have those weapons. This guy makes a difference in the game and you've got to use guys like that in the game.''
It looked like Sehorn might break the return, but what looked so promising one second turned dreadful when Jets safety Chris Hayes hit Sehorn near the 35-yard line.
The fallout from the injury is going to be felt by the Giants all season.
While Sehorn wasn't an All-Pro like either Strahan or linebacker Jessie Armstead, he might have been the most valuable defensive player on a team that led the league with a plus-25 turnover rating. He was the one defensive back who could take on any opposing receiver one-on-one, and there aren't many players like that in the NFL.
Strahan was near tears talking about Sehorn, while fellow defensive backs Sam Garnes and Percy Ellsworth talked as if someone close had died.
``I hate to come out and be an armchair quarterback,'' Ellsworth said. ``I don't think you can find (special) teams guys on this team that wanted him to do that. I don't want anyone to think I am going against what my coach said or what Jason said. We just didn't want it.
``We felt what he could have added would have been great, but it wasn't worth the risk.''
Sehorn was remarkably matter of fact in discussing the injury.
``Life goes on,'' he said. ``I was running back a kick and got hurt.''
Sehorn, who has been asking to return kickoffs since last November, felt bad for Fassel, knowing the coach's decision to use him as a returner would be scrutinized.
``I wanted to help our team out,'' Sehorn said. ``They pay me to play football. They don't pay me to worry about being hurt.''
Fassel also refused to second-guess himself.
``As a coach you can look back all the time to calls in the game, who you cut and who you kept and those things and drive yourself crazy second-guessing yourself,'' Fassel said. ``Jason wanted to do it and the things were in place.''