EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants guard Rich Seubert has beaten the odds before in overcoming a major injury and returning to the NFL.
The 32-year-old is ready to do it again, provided the league solves its labor dispute and reaches a new collective bargaining agreement with the players.
With the two sides waiting Wednesday for a federal judge in Minneapolis to decide whether to stay her own ruling that ended the lockout, Seubert visited the team’s headquarters to talk with the coaches and support staff, and to wish offensive line coach Pat Flaherty a happy birthday.
Seubert, who had surgery on his right knee in January to repair a torn patella tendon, a medial collateral ligament and to fill a gap in his cartilage, is hopeful that he will be ready for the season, again, if there is one.
“I want to play,” he said. “I wouldn’t be going through the rehab I’m going through now if I didn’t want to play. For me, I’m putting all this work in, let’s be rewarded by playing football.”
The lockout imposed by the owners on March 12 forced Seubert to train at a facility in Wayne, N.J., and rehabilitate his knee in Waldwick, N.J.
“We’re all doing it on our own right now,” Seubert said. “We’re all working. We’re all trying to get better. We have a beautiful place here, and I know the Giants would like to be here working out.”
Since U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson granted a players’ injunction request and lifted the owners’ lockout on Monday, five Giants have visited the team’s headquarters.
Defensive lineman Chris Canty, running back Brandon Jacobs and receiver Mario Manningham came Tuesday. Canty was allowed to use the team’s weight room and visit with trainers.
The Giants were the exception among NFL teams in allowing access to the weight room and trainers. They did not allow that Wednesday when Seubert, Jacobs and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard visited.
Seubert believes the owners and players can find a way to share the wealth in the $9 billion business and save the 2011 season.
“I am preparing myself mentally and physically to do whatever I need to do to be back out there by the time the season rolls around,” said Seubert, who started at guard last season and then moved to center after injuries sidelined Shaun O’Hara and Adam Koets. “We’re just like everyone else. We’re waiting. We want to play, and we will.”
For the fun-loving Seubert, the toughest part of the lockout is being separated from the team overall — from the players to the trainers, down to the video and the equipment personnel, as well.
“You can’t go out to dinner or grab a beer or just hang out,” he said. “That’s why I came in today to make sure I said ‘Hi’ to those guys, and make sure other families are doing OK and made sure everything was all right with those guys.”
Seubert never discussed either his injury in the final game of the season or football during his roughly one-hour visit. He said he just caught up with old friends.
Earlier, he saw Dr. Russell Warren, his orthopedic surgeon, in New York City and was told everything was going well.
“I’ve been through this before and I know what to expect,” Seubert said. “You build the muscles up, start jogging. Hopefully, the swelling stays out of it, and you push a little harder every day. The pain thing I am not worried about. We play with pain every day of our lives. It’s just about making sure my knee is 100-percent healthy to play at my best.”
This injury is minor compared to Seubert’s one in 2003. He broke his right leg in three places in a game against Philadelphia and missed the 2004 season.
“The broken leg, I had a bunch of complications, stuff was going wrong,” said Seubert, who required five surgeries before returning in 2005. “This is fixed. We had an MRI today and it looked good. I’m just excited I got a good report from the doctor today.”
Experts are predicting that the Giants will take offensive linemen in the draft over the next three days, something Seubert found funny. He said it’s been that way since he joined the team as a free agent in 2001.
He smiled when asked if he would watch the draft on Thursday.
“I don’t care about the draft,” he said. “I haven’t cared about it since I wasn’t drafted.”
Neither Bernard nor Jacobs stopped to comment on Wednesday, although Jacobs flashed a peace sign as he drove by in his Bentley.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.