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Ariington's First Interview Since Bike Wreck

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LaVar Arrington gives first interview since near-fatal crash







Sunday, September 23rd 2007, 3:39 PM





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LaVar Arrington's Giants career didn't last very long, as he played in six games before ...




... a torn Achilles cut-short his 2006 season.


Says Arrington, who spent his 29th birthday in the hospital during his two-week stay after a motorcycle accident: 'I was almost out of here, man...


... They were saying I was facing kidney failure and if I had kidney failure I would be on dialysis and then I'd possibly be out of here. I got jacked up, bro. I was jacked up.'

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LANDOVER, Md. - LaVar Arrington remembers cruising at about 35 miles per hour on an exit ramp when a dump truck cut him off, sending his brand new Kawasaki ZX-14 motorcycle swerving left onto gravel and smashing into a guard rail.


It left a dent that is still visible in the metal rail on the I-50 West ramp that leads onto the I-495 Beltway. Arrington braced himself for a fall with his right arm before skidding on the pavement and losing consciousness.


"I remember heat," Arrington told the Daily News on Friday in his first interview since his motorcycle accident on June 18. "I remember how hot it was. I was hot, bro. Next thing I know, when I woke up, I was like, 'Whoa!' I didn't even know (or remember) I wrecked and when I woke up, I'm like, 'Where am I? Why am I lying here like this?'"


The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker had been in the Prince George's Hospital Center intensive care unit for a couple of days before he finally came to, having shattered his right arm and suffering nerve damage along with a couple of broken bones in his back and a massive gash in his right thigh. He was lucky his neck wasn't broken, doctors said, and they were worried the trauma from the accident would cause one of his kidneys to fail.


"I was almost out of here, man," says Arrington, who spent his 29th birthday in the hospital during his two-week stay. "They were saying I was facing kidney failure and if I had kidney failure I would be on dialysis and then I'd possibly be out of here. I got jacked up, bro. I was jacked up."


The 6-3 linebacker who was built like a Mack truck and hit like one is almost unrecognizable to former teammates who have seen him. While his face is unscathed due to the fact that he was wearing a helmet, Arrington's body looks more like that of a small forward than one of the NFL's most intimidating linebackers. He weighs just 235 pounds, down from the 260 he played at last year with the Giants before suffering a season-ending torn Achilles six games into the season.


Arrington says his kidney is fine. But his right arm, once bulging with Popeye muscles, is frail and weak. Having just had his cast removed not too long ago, Arrington has a white wrap on his forearm that covers a nasty scar. With a couple of surgically-inserted rods in his reconstructed arm, the man who ended Troy Aikman's career with a punishing hit can barely squeeze a reporter's arm.


"It's crazy," says Giants linebacker and close friend Antonio Pierce. "You look at him now, you wouldn't know who he is because he is about 230-plus, if that."


While Pierce says his former teammate sounds like he still wants to play, Arrington sacked any notion of a comeback as he stood inside his soon-to-be-completed sports theater/grill.


The Sideline is scheduled to open in December and it sits practically in the shadow of FedEx Field, where Arrington played six seasons and became the face of the Redskins' franchise.


Instead of sitting in on daily linebacker meetings, Arrington now huddles with marketing, financial, architectural and culinary advisers about his 7,500 square-foot restaurant, which will feature a bar that sits inside a towering makeshift football and a VIP lounge that hovers above the restaurant floor like a press box.


"I am so at peace with my life," says Arrington, who had just bought his motorcycle days before the accident and was issued two citations by police for not having a motorcycle license and for the crash itself. "I don't feel lost, I don't feel any depression. I feel great. Me and my wife, we have a fire pit on our deck outside of our master bedroom and we have been sitting out there at night roasting marshmallows."


Arrington gets all soft and mushy when talking about retirement and the Giants, who released him in February. Unlike Tiki Barber, Arrington is a Tom Coughlin fan.


"Coughlin took care of me, man," says Arrington, who signed a seven-year, $49 million pact with the Giants as a free agent in 2006. "I am not supporting Coughlin over Tiki and I am not supporting Tiki over Coughlin. They took care of me. Ownership, management, I wish them all the best because they are a class act."


Arrington does not say the same about Daniel Snyder, the Redskins owner who drafted him second overall in 2000. After making the Pro Bowl from 2001 to 2003 and signing an eight-year, $68 million extension with the Redskins near the end of the 2003 season, Arrington clashed with Snyder over a nasty financial dispute. The linebacker and his agent claimed that he was shortchanged $6.5 million of the extension.


Arrington, who suffered a knee injury that required surgeries in 2004 and 2005, fell out of favor with Joe Gibbs' coaching staff and was labeled a freelancer who didn't fit in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme.


"I hate the way that Dan Snyder and Joe Gibbs handled things," says Arrington, who settled his dispute with Snyder and surrendered $2 million to get out of his contract in 2006. "So I don't have a liking for them particularly. I made three Pro Bowls under crazy circumstances. People wouldn't even know how complicated it is to be a Washington Redskin. I am not a mudslinger so I won't get into details of it."


Arrington credits Snyder - who once called his franchise linebacker "a Redskin through and through" -- with teaching him how to become a shrewd businessman.


"I will be a successful businessman based on probably 85% of the things I have learned from Daniel Snyder," says Arrington, who is starting a clothing line with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and former University of Miami linebacker Rohan Marley and is doing analysis for a local network. "It appears that (the Redskins) pay more money (than other teams). Dan Snyder is brilliant in that he knows how to backload, he knows that if he wants to pay, he has at least two to three years to decide if he really wants to pay you what your contract is (worth). Or he will restructure you and guarantee you more money and you will get some, but it is not what people think it is.


"Watch what they will do," Arrington continues. "They will get rid of (running back) Clinton (Portis) before they have to pay him his crazy amount of money. They will get rid of (offensive lineman) Chris Samuels. That is how they do business. Or they restructure you."


Still, Arrington's logo for his restaurant is painted in the Redskins' burgundy and gold. He loves the franchise and is still beloved here by its rabid fans. Dozens of shoppers wished Arrington a speedy recovery while he was standing outside his restaurant in an outdoor mall located where the old Capital Centre used to stand.


With designs on a charity initiative called "Grand Destiny" that will house 100 foster children from the area, the man once labeled the next Lawrence Taylor has no problem moving on from a seven-year career that fizzled due to injuries and ended with him limping off the Texas Stadium turf last year. After escaping his crash with just a couple of broken bones, Arrington wants to focus on mending the lives of the needy now.


"Probably the reason why things didn't pan out the way I would have liked them to is because I was more than an NFL player to begin with," Arrington says of his charities and business aspirations and his life now. "I'm busy, bro. Make a tackle, eh, that's cool. You'll make a million. Run fast, eh, that's cool, make a million.


"Change a kid's life? Priceless. Change the world."


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