“Chase Blackburn can’t soak it all in-but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Blackburn, an integral member of the New York Giants special teams unit, is caught up in the whirlwind of Super Bowl week. Blackburn and the Giants play the New England Patriots Super Bowl on Sunday.””
Chase Blackburn can’t soak it all in-but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Blackburn, an integral member of the New York Giants special teams unit, is caught up in the whirlwind of Super Bowl week.
Blackburn and the Giants play the New England Patriots Super Bowl on Sunday. The former University of Akron Zip feels like the Giants postseason inexperience has helped them through their run to the championship game.
We all haven’t realized exactly where we’re at, Blackburn said in a phone interview from Arizona. So we’re just taking it like another game.
There was a time that Blackburn thought he would never play another football game again, let alone on the sport’s biggest stage.
Coming out of Marysville High School in central Ohio, Blackburn wasn’t highly recruited, even though his teams only lost two games his entire high school career. In his senior season, as a linebacker, tight end and long snapper, he led Marysville to a 13-1 record and to the state semi-finals.
The reason we had so much success was because the kids followed him, he was positive and he worked hard, Blackburn’s former high school coach Rich Weiskircher said. It wasn’t always what he said but also what he did.
I think that’s why he’s successful now- because of that attitude and work ethic that he had.
That work ethic followed him to UA. Blackburn, a three-year starter, led the Zips in tackles in his final two seasons and was a captain both years.
After his college career was over, Blackburn wasn’t touted as an NFL prospect. He worked out with personal trainers, strength and speed coaches everyday.
The work paid off.
He was invited to the Giants training camp and made the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent.
I already had my mind made up that I was going to make it, he said.
Blackburn led the Giants in special teams tackles in his rookie season and got his first start at middle linebacker after Antonio Pierce, the regular starter, suffered a season ending ankle injury with three games remaining in the season.
Against Kansas City, Blackburn wasn’t told he was starting until an hour before the game.
I didn’t have a chance to be nervous or anything, Blackburn said.
He had nine tackles in a 27-17 win over the Chiefs and earned a start the following week against Washington.
In the first quarter, Blackburn intercepted a Mark Brunell pass and scooted 31-yards for a touchdown.
It was amazing, Blackburn said. It was a feeling I hadn’t had since high school and it was obviously on a bigger stage, which added to it.
The next time he garnered everyone’s attention at FedEx Field that day, he was laying on the ground and unable to move.
Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey (Brunell suffered an injury after Blackburn’s interception) completed a 13-yard pass to Chris Cooley, who was wrapped up by Gibril Wilson. Blackburn wanted to come in and put the hit-stick on him.
His shoulder glanced off one of the Redskin’s lineman, causing him to hit Cooley at an awkward angle.
Doctors rushed on the field. They asked him to move his toes. Blackburn thought he was.
Then he realized the entire left side of his body wouldn’t move.
I tried to roll over and I couldn’t, Blackburn said. At that point I started thinking about how I was going to get over this. It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me.
An hour later at the hospital, Blackburn started to feel tingling sensations in his feet. He was informed that he suffered five herniated discs, two bulging discs and two pinched nerves in his neck.
Six weeks later, he started rehabbing. The task he first had complete was taking off his neck brace and holding his neck up under his own power.
He went through ten weeks of rehab, taking gradual steps like applying gentle pressure to his cheek, and building up to the point where he was able to run. He still was looking to play for the Giants the following year.
It was a lot of hard work to get back into shape coming off an injury like that, he said. Heading into camp I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t had any contact.
The first day of training camp, Blackburn was tentative at first. During his first action, he tackled bruising, 6-foot-4, 264 lbs. running back Brandon Jacobs.
Once I hit, I was like ‘if I can hit him, I can do this,’ Blackburn said. It was a solid hit. I thought if I could hit him and take it, I’d be alright.
He had a successful season in 2006, making 16 special teams tackles and improved upon that this year recording 21 special team tackles. He hasn’t had any problems with his neck since the injury. For now, he’s putting it behind him-not only the neck injury, but everything.
I just keep looking forward to the next game.
“” #1.1361363:2637619377.jpg:Blackburn tackle.jpg:Baltimore Ravens receiver Derrick Mason (85) is brought down by the New York Giants’ Chase Blackburn (57)in the first half of their preseason game Aug. 11, 2006.:GEORGE BRIDGES / MCT”