GIANTS' CORNERBACK TERRELL THOMAS HOPES FOR ANOTHER SHOT AFTER TEARING HIS ACL A SECOND TIME
"Life was about as good as it could get for Terrell Thomas last
summer. He was hyped as a future Pro Bowl cornerback. He was a week away from
the start of talks on a new contract that would make him a very, very rich
Then, in an instant, it all went wrong. On a meaningless play in a
meaningless game Aug. 22, his right knee collided with teammate Jason
Pierre-Paul’s leg. There were 30 seconds left in the first half of a
preseason game against the Bears. He wouldn’t have even been on the field if the
Giants hadn’t just scored.
But he was, putting his right knee in the
wrong place when Pierre-Paul’s leg whipped around. The impact tore Thomas’ ACL
his second torn ACL in the same knee in six years.
A few months ago,
while Thomas was home in California going through the dog days of his long
rehabilitation and watching the Giants struggle late in the regular season,
reality started to hit him hard. His chance at a Pro Bowl and the multi-million
dollar contract that would’ve set up his family for life were gone.
was kind of like the world is ending, you know what I mean?” Thomas says. “I
can’t believe this happened again. I was due for a big contract. And it was
never just for me. It was always for my mom and my family, to make a better life
for them. To have that taken away …”
What kept Thomas going through his
long rehabilitation and the unavoidable depressing days was the thought that his
dream wasn’t really dead. It was only delayed. Now, seven months after that
freak injury, he’s hoping he was right. On Tuesday he’ll be an unrestricted free
agent, ready to sell his services to the highest bidder.
confident there will be bidders if the Giants don’t re-sign him before the
market opens on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
“A lot of people are like ‘Oh, it’s the
second ACL, he’s not going to be able to return,’ ” Thomas says. “OK. Well,
we’ll see. I use that as motivation. I know the doubt. And I understand the GMs
and teams, they might think it’s a risk taking a shot on me with my second ACL.
But if you look at my track record, you look at every injury I had through
college and the NFL, every time I came back I came back 100% with no lingering
issues, no setbacks, no having to sit out practice, nothing.”
motivation has carried Thomas since he left for California, where the Giants
allowed him to have his ACL repaired by the same surgeon that operated on him
when he tore the same ligament as a sophomore at USC in 2005. He stayed in Los
Angeles to train with John Meyer, the same
trainer who helped him overcome that injury, too.
Thomas insists he’s
never had a setback during his rehab. He says “my knee’s doing great” and he’s
confident he’ll regain full strength. He knows that with most players who tear
their ACL “there’s a lag that first year.” He didn’t have one in college,
though, and he doesn’t expect to have one now.
But convincing teams of
that won’t be easy. He only began cutting while backpedalling two weeks ago. He
can run, but “not a full sprint, just a nice-speed jog.” He can jump, squat,
lunge without pain and his knee feels strong. But he also said he’ll likely sit
out spring drills, just to make sure his ACL completely heals before training
“The biggest thing throughout this whole process is being
proactive,” he says. “It’s not that I can’t do it, but there’s no need to rush
me out there. I’m definitely not rushing to get back out there to prove that I’m
Without the proof, though, teams may not be willing to take a
chance. Seven months ago, Thomas who led the Giants with five interceptions in
2010 might have been in line for a deal similar to the five-year, $43 million
contract extension the Giants gave Corey Webster in
2008. Now? Who knows? Certainly it’ll be a shorter deal. Less lucrative,
Thomas is still dreaming of something bigger, though, which may be
why negotiations with the Giants have stalled. He points out that in 2010 the
Jacksonville Jaguars gave defensive end Aaron
Kampman a four-year, $26 million contract with $11 million guaranteed, while
he was still rehabbing a torn ACL.
“You know what? You never know,” he
says. “I learned coming in that all you need is one team to like you. That’s all
I’m hoping for, whether it’s the Giants or one of the other 31 teams out there.
All you need is one team to believe in you and trust in you.”
Thomas has hope, which is much more than he had last August when he first looked
up and saw the blank look on Giants trainer Byron Hansen’s face
and realized he had torn his ACL again. He got up, tossed his gloves in anger,
made sure to walk off under his own power.
In the trainers’ room, when it
all began to sink in, he started to cry.
“People kept saying, ‘He’s a Pro
Bowl-caliber player this year,’” Thomas says. “I definitely was. No doubt in my
mind. I was ready for a big year. I had high hopes. That’s what I had for
“But God had a different plan for me.”