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 Waiting to Play, and to Redeem His Name

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Posts : 260
Join date : 2010-11-12

PostSubject: Waiting to Play, and to Redeem His Name   Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:02 am

As the Giants completed their dramatic victory over the Buffalo Bills this month, Jimmy Kennedy watched on television, pumping his fist while churning his legs on an elliptical machine at a gym near Denver.

Kennedy, a defensive tackle, was suspended four games last month for violating the N.F.L.’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and in the days after he lingered in the New York area, hoping his representatives would be able to reduce the penalty on appeal. Once it became clear that was unlikely, Kennedy said, he traveled to Colorado, where he has spent every day rehabilitating nagging injuries, reviewing the notes from his playbook and working out.

Part of his desire for distance from the team, he said, was that “I didn’t want to be a distraction to anyone.”

That is why he has also avoided the news media. But, in his first interview since the suspension, Kennedy described his feelings of frustration and disappointment over the positive test, and the challenges he has faced during his time away.

Kennedy, a Yonkers native and former first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams, said he was hesitant to get into specifics about the positive test for fear his comments would raise more questions and interfere with his teammates and coaches as they prepared for Sunday’s game against Miami. He wanted to make clear, however, that he had not tested positive for a steroid.

“No matter what it is that we test for, people say ‘performance-enhancing drugs’ and relate that to steroids,” he said. “Cold medicine, water pills, different medicine creams. That stuff can be a positive, too.”

He added: “If you want to look me in my face, and say, ‘You take steroids,’ I’ll show you a roll of fat I have. If I’m going to be doing something like that, I better look like T. O. times three. I better look like something crazy. I better be looking good.”

Kennedy, 31, was referring to Terrell Owens, the muscular free-agent wide receiver — though he said he was not accusing Owens of being a steroid user. He said he has kept up with the Giants and the N.F.L. during his suspension. His days, however, are hardly idle; Kennedy begins each morning with 45 minutes of cardio about 8:30 a.m., before going to the Steadman Clinic, a renowned orthopedic facility, where he trains for two hours in an effort to keep his knees, hips and groin muscles flexible.

After lunch, he visits a chiropractor, who uses a variety of techniques, including acupuncture, to help ease Kennedy’s aches.

“I couldn’t answer the phone before because I had needles all stuck in my legs and back,” Kennedy said by way of explaining a missed call. “It’s hard to talk then, but it works.”

After a short break to eat and rest, Kennedy then returns to the gym at 5:30 p.m., where he does his normal weight-lifting routine before finishing the day with another round of cardio. At night, he reviews the Giants’ defensive schemes and techniques.

A nine-year veteran who has played for six teams, Kennedy said that he made sure the Giants and Coach Tom Coughlin were aware of his positive test when they signed him in August. He said that might have affected his playing time during the first five games.

“I believe my role was limited with the Giants because Coach Coughlin didn’t know when these four games were going to come,” Kennedy said.

Still, the Giants appear committed to Kennedy, and he said that had been a comfort to him during a stressful time. His frustration with the positive test was magnified because joining the Giants brought him back where he would be living and playing near family and friends — a circumstance which only added to his disappointment.

“Now I get a chance to be home, and there’s baggage,” he said.

He is allowed to return to the Giants’ facility Nov. 14, the day after the team plays in San Francisco. Although he has exchanged occasional text messages with teammates — he sent congratulations to Osi Umenyiora, Rocky Bernard and others after the Buffalo game — Kennedy has tried to stay away, not wanting to get in the way as the Giants push on.

It has been difficult. After learning about the positive test “months ago,” he said, sitting around waiting to hear when his suspension would come was grueling. But he said waiting to get back on the field while assumptions were being made about why he was gone had been so much worse.

“This is my family’s last name, this is my last name, this is not who I am,” he said.

He added: “If I come back on Monday, and we play that Sunday and the coaches see fit, I can be on the field knowing the whole defense. I just want to play again.”

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