By the time I got done speaking with men’s basketball coach Jeff Reynolds on Thursday, the Air Force football team already had wrapped up its second spring practice.
So no practice report today. But I did get to catch up with former Falcons QB Shaun Carney.
Carney, as those who check this blog remember all too vividly, suffered a gruesome career-ending injury in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31. Near the end of the third quarter, Carney ran right, then planted his right leg with designs on running over the one Cal player between him and the end zone. But as Carney took on that player, he was hit from behind and his leg was hit from the side.
The result was a dislocated knee cap, damage to ligaments in the knee cap and ACL, MCL and PCL tears.
Carney finally had surgery last Thursday after waiting a couple of months for swelling to subside. The surgery included “about five hours of actual cutting time,” Carney said, with about two or three more for “prepping and cleaning up.”
Carney’s PCL and ACL were removed. An Achilles from a cadaver was used for his PCL, and a tendon from the back of Carney’s right hamstring was sliced off and used for his ACL. He also had a microfracture procedure done on his femur – tiny holes were drilled into his femur, allowing blood and bone marrow to seep out and help build up cartilage.
Carney, who said he watched the replay of his injury on YouTube, stayed awake for about two hours of the surgery and watched the procedure on the monitor that doctors were using.
The pain in his leg, Carney said, now is “way worse” than it was in the weeks before surgery.
“They put four screws in there too, that’s how they have to get the ACL and PCL in there,” he said. “You can feel them moving around a little bit. So it’s a lot more painful than I expected.”
Carney will be in a wheelchair or on crutches for the next seven or so weeks. Then he will start rehabilitation and “eventually start jogging around July or August,” he said. “I could probably play basketball on that thing by November, but it won’t be real strong until next February.”
He will, however, be able to walk down the aisle at his wedding June 28.
And despite his limited mobility, Carney will be on the field next week helping with the Falcons’ spring practices (he will serve as a graduate assistant coach next year).
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Looking forward to getting out there any way I can and getting in the quarterbacks' ears a little bit.”