Jeremy Maclin wanted to be there for his teammates.
Just one day after tearing the ACL in his right knee, the Eagles receiver stood on the sideline Sunday, with the aid of crutches. It was alumni day at Lincoln Financial Field and 30,000 fans packed the stadium to watch an open practice. Guys like Donovan McNabb — no, he wasn't booed — and Brian Westbrook were on hand, all of them went over to check on Maclin. He kept a smile on his face for the entire afternoon.
"My faith in God, my family, my friends, you know, I'm going to lean on myself," Maclin said. "I think I've been battle-tested. I think that I got the right mindset, and the right approach to this situation, so I think I'll be OK."
Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery on Maclin's knee next Tuesday, then the long road to recovery begins. He's been through this process before after tearing his ACL in college, right before the 2006 season. It took him about six months to get back on the field.
"This is my season, you know, rehabbing is my season," Maclin said.
Of all the players in the Eagles' nest for this to happen to, Maclin might have been the worst. The 25-year-old is in the last year of his rookie deal. He was expected to thrive in new coach Chip Kelly's innovative offense, maybe reach the 1,000-yard measuring stick for elite receivers and cash in with a lucrative contract extension. Now, he might be looking for a new team in 2014.
"It just sucks I'm not going to be a part of that, but I think they still have the guys out there that can make this thing work," Maclin said. "I thought I had the ability to shine in this offense ... for my skill set, and also with me being very intelligent, I think they had the ability to put me into several different places where I could be successful."
The injury occurred during Saturday's practice as he was trying to cut on a dime. Maclin said he heard a pop as he attempted to pivot left — his right leg didn't want to turn in that direction. Kelly and Eagles trainers rushed to the scene.
"I was devastated. I was lying on the field and it wasn't the fact that it hurt, it was the fact that I knew what happened," Maclin said. "It was emotional, just knowing everything that's at stake. This is something that I love to do. I love to play football, and knowing that I'm not going to be able to do that, and knowing that I'm not going to be a part of this new era here in Philly this year, it's tough."
When Maclin arrived at training camp last Thursday, reporters asked him if he had thought about not showing up. DeSean Jackson held out briefly when he was playing out his rookie deal. The thought never entered Maclin's head. He was determined to let his play speak for itself, and let the chips fall where they may. It's unfortunate he won't get that opportunity.
"Hopefully I'll be around for a few more years, keep rehabbing and be better than I was before," Maclin said.
And Maclin insists he won't rush his rehab. He won't return until he's 100-percent. If the Eagles want him back, he'd love to come back. However, he also understands it's a business. No regrets.
"I can't think like that," he said. "I think the minute you start doing that is the minute you start doubting yourself and that's not the type of person I am. I understand this is a business — like I said, when that bridge comes, we'll cross it."
McNabb to retire as Eagle
Donovan McNabb will officially retire as a Philadelphia Eagle Monday in a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the NovaCare Complex. The former quarterback is the franchise's all-time leader in every major passing category, including attempts, completions, yards and TDs. McNabb got a standing ovation at yesterday's open practice.