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Panthers Kickers Swap Knee Stories

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Panthers Kickers Swap Knee Stories

Panthers Kickers Swap Knee Stories

October 13, 2000
By the Associated Press--John Kasay walked into Carolina's locker room, introduced himself to Joe Nedney, then rolled up his pants leg to show him the scar on his knee.

Nedney then pointed his out as the Panthers' two kickers got acquainted Wednesday by comparing the scars they both have from knee operations.

"I said mine is bigger, and he said `No mine is bigger' so we kind of had that "Jaws" thing going on," said Kasay, referring to the part in the movie when Richard Dreyfuss' character compared shark bite scars with a boat captain.

After a few more minutes of talk, the two went their separate ways--Nedney to get ready for practice, Kasay to get ready to play with his kids.

It was a rare visit to the locker room for Kasay, who broke his kneecap in August while attempting a field goal during practice. He finally got off crutches two weeks ago and after learning to walk again, wanted to show off his progress to his teammates.

One of the first players he encountered was Nedney, signed last week to kick for Carolina after Richie Cunningham failed to adequately fill in for Kasay.

Nedney was a successful replacement, making 4-of-5 field goals Sunday to earn the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

"He's a good guy and I'm glad he's here," Kasay said. "I think he'll do a really good job for us."

That used to be Kasay's job. The Panthers' leading scorer in each of their first five seasons, he was having another outstanding year last season until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while making a tackle against Green Bay on Dec. 12.

After a long and grueling rehabilitation process, he had just started practicing with the team again in August when his left kneecap suddenly snapped in half during a preseason practice.

Two months later, no one knows why it happened.

"If you find out, let me know -- and I'm serious about that," Kasay said. "It was just one of those strange things. Guys have broken their kneecaps before, but it's usually from contact or something. No one knows why mine did."

But he feels certain the second injury wasn't a result of coming back too quickly from the torn ACL. He said he was assured of that during a chance encounter last week with a construction worker who had also had his ACL surgically repaired.

"The guy said he was out washing his car two months after his ACL surgery, he slipped but didn't fall, but he put all his weight on his injured leg and broke his kneecap also," Kasay said. "Like him, I don't have any answers, it just happened."

In the meantime, he's found an ally in the kicker brought in to replace him.

Like Kasay, Nedney once tore his ACL. Twelve games into the 1998 season, Nedney suffered the injury during a career year with Kansas City.

He bounced around the next year, kicking in one game for Arizona and three for Oakland. The Raiders released him before this season began and after a fill-in stint for Denver, he's found a home in Carolina -- albeit until Kasay comes back.

"Somebody gets hurt every week and kickers have been having it rough lately," Nedney said. "You just go where you are needed and John and I can sit here and trade stories about what we've been through and what we're going through. So I think it's good because I can give him some pointers."

But Kasay doesn't plan on being around too often. With three young children at home, he's looking at his first fall away from football as a time to be a dad. He begins his fulltime rehabilitation in another four weeks, but plans to schedule it around school projects and spending quality time with his children.

"Being a dad, being a husband and doing some of the things around the community, I look at it as a blessing and a real good opportunity," Kasay said. "It's given me a different perspective than I've ever had before and I am cherishing it."

Image courtesy of PicturesNow.com

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