Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview Part 3: Jason Sehorn, Good Time

A still from Jason Sehorn's interception return in the 2001 playoffs against the Eagles (NFL.com)
Part 1: Let's Go | Part 2: Special Things | Part 3: Been There

Back in junior college, Jason Sehorn's football coach said something to him that he found interesting: Watch Barry Sanders.

Sanders was, by then, already one of the greatest running backs in the game, Sehorn recalled his coach Sonny Stubek telling him, but Sanders never celebrated a run or a touchdown.

"Act like you've been there before," Sehorn recalled to The Greatest 21 Days of what his old coach told him.

"I kind of took that approach with everything in life," Sehorn added. "There's no sense in celebrating until it's over. When it's all over, and I'm in the lockerroom with my teammates, now we can celebrate.

"It's second down and I just made a big ol' tackle, there's still third down," Sehorn said. "There's still a chance that something goes wrong here. So, keep it in check - I've always had that even-keeled mentality in life."
Giants Stadium during 2001 Giants-Jets game. (Wikipedia)
From that time at Shasta Junior College, Sehorn took that mentality on to USC and then on to the NFL. In the NFL, Sehorn certainly had enough to celebrate after it was over, helping lead his team to the 2001 Super Bowl.

Sehorn spoke with The Greatest 21 Days by phone recently from Connecticut, where he was readying for his third season as a college football analyst for ESPNU.

Sehorn spoke about his time growing up in California playing multiple sports but not so much in an organized way. He also described how he got into baseball, a game he never played in high school, but got into in American Legion ball on the invitation from some friends, then his brief, single-season baseball career that followed.

Sehorn then talked about his football career, his return to college and his rise to USC and then the New York Giants. From there, he spoke about coming back from injury, and one legendary interception in the 2001 NFL playoffs.

Sehorn's NFL career began in 1994, taken by the Giants in the second round, 59th overall, out of USC.

Having gone from Huntington, W.V., to Redding, Ca., with Shasta and then to Los Angeles with USC, the transition to the big cities wasn't a problem. Also, the expectations from being a second-around pick weren't a problem, Sehorn recalled.

The transition from college to the NFL, though, was a lot tougher, Sehorn recalled.
The Giants lining up on defense in Super Bowl XXXV (Giants.com)
His first year out of college, he hardly played. It took time to figure out the pace of the game, he said.

"It took a little while," Sehorn said. "I'll be honest, that first year was a learning curve. It was a struggle. But, unlike baseball, because I loved it so much, I was willing to work an learn and get better at it."

There were also other aspects of the game that Sehorn needed to learn, especially as a defender.

"I realized that, when I got to the NFL, that it wasn't as much about ability, as it was about knowing where you were supposed to be," Sehorn recalled. "Being in the right place at the right time was far more important than being fast.

"Because," Sehorn added, "if you're fast and in the wrong place, that means you're in the wrong place quickly."

Once he got to training camp that second year second on the depth chart and he just worked his way up, he recalled.

By Week 1, Sehorn was playing. And he was playing in front of more than 80,000 Giants fans at Giants Stadium, recording time n 14 games that year.

The next two years, he played the full season, credited with 83 tackles the first year and 75 the next. He also scored touchdowns in both seasons, intercepting a total of 11 balls between them.

He was a star and a beloved member of the New York Giants. Then came pre-season 1998.

Returning a kickoff in that pre-season contest, Sehorn got hit awkwardly. The result was a torn ACL. Like that, he was gone for the season. And, maybe even his career. Even Sehorn said he wasn't completely sure he could come back.
A still from the NFL.com video of Jason Sehorn's 2001 playoff interception against the Eagles. (NFL.com)
"You just don't know," Sehorn said. "It was even worse after the surgery. After the surgery. After the surgery, you can't even walk. You're on crutches. You have no muscle, it's all atrophied."

"You tell yourself 'I may not be able to play again. I can't picture myself running, let along walking. So how am I going to play?'" Sehorn added.

Over time, through rehab, he did gain back his strength. For Sehorn, that athletic ability that got him to New York was seemingly gone. And he had to work to get it back.

"Once you tear your ACL, now it's all work. We're talking all work," Sehorn said. "I've never worked so hard in my life as I did after that surgery."

By the time the 1999 season came around, Sehorn was back. Getting back on the field again, Sehorn called the "ultimate thrill."

Sehorn started 10 games that year and 14 the next, helping the Giants to the 2000 playoffs. In those playoffs, against the Eagles, Sehorn made The Interception.

 
Jason Sehorn's 2001 interception

In that NFC divisional playoff game, Sehorn somehow caught a Donovan McNabb-thrown pass, then got up and ran it back for a momentum-changing touchdown.

"It really is one of those things where everything has to work perfectly," Sehorn said. "Shoot, the ball can bounce any way. So, when I tipped it, basically I was lucky that it went straight up.

"You can tip a ball and it can go in any direction," Sehorn said. "It just happened to go straight up, so it worked out for me."

The Giants ended up winning the game, and then going on to the Super Bowl.

Sehorn ended up staying with the Giants two more seasons, before playing one final campaign with the Rams to finish out his career.

Sehorn now lives in the Charlotte area with his wife Angie Harmon and their three daughters. He works as the communications director for a company that owns 105 car dealerships. He also works for ESPN as a college football analyst for ESPNU working Thursday and Saturday night games.

As for how everything turned out, Sehorn said, "you won't find any complaints out of me."

"There were some highs and lows throughout it, but that was just part of life," Sehorn said. "So you deal with them. You deal with the lows, turn them into highs and don't get too high on the highs. Deal with them and have a good time. And I had a good time."

Part 1: Let's Go | Part 2: Special Things | Part 3: Been There

1 comment:

  1. I had forgotten about the ACL injury. And thanks for the video - very cool.

    ReplyDelete

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