Before ESPN showed the replay of Shaun Carney’s gruesome knee injury that occurred late in the third quarter of the Armed Forces Bowl, announcers told viewers with queasy stomachs not to watch.
So those of you with queasy stomachs, skip the following quote.
“I was trying to plant my (right) foot and try to run over a linebacker,” Carney said of the play when he addressed the media today for the first time since immediately after the bowl game. “And at that time it was either a safety or a corner that hit my leg, and at the same time that linebacker that I was trying to run over hit me up top along with another defensive lineman from behind. So my leg went one way and my body went the other, and something had to give and it was my knee.”
The result of the collision described above, according to an MRI Carney received earlier this week at the academy, was a dislocated knee cap, damage to ligaments in the knee cap and ACL, MCL and PCL tears.
Carney said he knew it was serious immediately.
“When it happened, (trainers) were trying to do some tests on the knee … I just told them, ‘Guys, it’s gone. My knee is toast.’ I knew it,” Carney said.
Head trainer Tony Peck was fairly sure of the severity as well.
“Shaun’s a tough kid,” he said. “So you knew.”
Carney said Thursday he’ll have surgery on his ACL and PCL in about six weeks – though Peck said surgery for the PCL is not definite. The MCL heals by itself.
Peck said Carney – who came to today’s interview on crutches and uses a wheel chair to get to and from class – probably won’t be active for six or eight months. He said those rehabbing similar knee injuries typically don’t “feel like themselves” for about a year.
Carney said daily activities can be frustrating – though he’s had plenty of help from his family, fiancée and friends – and that it will be tough to stay off the golf course.
But the toughest part of the injury still was leaving the final game of his career before it was over.
“There was nothing more frustrating than leaving my teammates on the field and watching them battle Cal,” he said. “I felt like I definitely could have made a difference in that football game. It was hard to watch that lead slip away and that was the most frustrating moment I’ve had so far.”
Still, Carney will be able to finish school, graduate with his class and walk down the aisle for his June 28 wedding. Next year he’s slated to be back at the academy as a graduate assistant for the football team – which will benefit his rehab.
“I don’t think there’s any physical therapy staff in the country, in the Air Force, specifically, that can deal with me any better than these guys can,” he said.
As for that now infamous replay? Yes, Carney has watched it “a couple times.” His stomach didn’t turn over, he said.
“I don’t know why,” he said. “I remember sitting back at the hotel (in Fort Worth) with my brother in my hotel room and it was on SportsCenter. And I wanted to watch it again, I wanted to see what happened and how it happened. Everyone was like, ‘Ewww.’ And I was more like, ‘Really?’ Just trying to figure out what exactly happened.”