Polley needs knee surgery

Fla. State linebacker faces half-year rehab

January 07, 2000|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Florida State linebacker Tommy Polley will undergo major reconstructive surgery on his left knee early next month, the school announced yesterday. The former Dunbar star was injured in the second quarter of his team's 46-29 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl national championship game Tuesday night.

X-rays taken in Tallahassee revealed that Polley suffered a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament and an almost complete tear of the medial collateral ligament. The surgery will be performed by Florida State team doctor Tom Haney. Polley will have to rehabilitate his knee for six or seven months but is expected to be back for the 2000 season.

This is the first major injury of Polley's career.

"I knew it when I did it. I felt it pop out," Polley said last night from Tallahassee.

Polley had said after the game that the injury occurred as he was trying to blitz Hokies quarterback Michael Vick. When he planted his leg to pivot, his cleats got caught in a seam in the turf. He left the game and didn't return. Before the injury, Polley had made one of the game's biggest plays, blocking a punt that teammate Jeff Chaney returned 4 yards for a touchdown.

A redshirt junior, Polley led the Seminoles in tackles this season and also had blocked a punt in the regular-season finale against Florida. Expected to play a major role again next season, Polley will now spend the months after surgery working to get ready for the season.

Amy Polley said that she has been told that her son could be ready "between the second and third" game.

Tommy Polley has other plans.

"I'm going to be ready for the opener," he said.

Florida State will open the season in late August against Brigham Young in the Pigskin Classic.

Dr. Haney said last night that "as a rule, with most anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions, we like to take six months [of rehab]. It's not just rehab. It's trying to give the ligament time to regain as much strength, and it gives the player time to get his balance back and his confidence back."

Haney pointed to several former Seminoles who had similar injuries to Polley's, citing Corey Fuller as an example. Fuller sustained an injury during his junior year, played as a senior and was a second-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1995.

Polley took the injury in stride.

"Other guys have gotten hurt," said Polley, who was later joined on the sideline by defensive end Roland Seymour. "God works in mysterious ways. He has a plan for me. I just have to work hard for next year."

Amy Polley, who was at the Superdome in New Orleans watching the game, said she spoke with her son twice yesterday.

"He's doing really fine," she said. `His spirits are uplifted. He'll definitely be back."

In other news regarding the Seminoles, quarterback Chris Weinke has scheduled a news conference for today to announce his plans for next season. Weinke, a 27-year-old junior who spent six years in the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system, is expected to announce that he will turn pro. Weinke threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

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