The Rock Displays His 'True Grit'
John Wayne is known for portraying characters that are tough, dependable, and always do the right thing. Jon Jansen has always admired the Duke “for who he was on the big screen and what his character stood for in most of his movies”. He has tried to pattern himself after those characteristics.
When Jansen started his first game as a sophomore at the University of Michigan, he unwittingly started an amazing streak of 132 consecutive regular season starts. A streak such as this purveys all of the attributes that Jansen admires in the characters that John Wayne played on screen. The streak began against the University of Virginia in 1995 and it came to a shocking conclusion in Canton, Ohio. Jansen suffered a freak Achilles’ tendon injury in the Hall of Fame game, the first pre-season game of the year. The injury not only meant an end to an impressive streak, it meant the end of Jansen’s 2004 season before it even began.
With the modern marvels of science and medicine, players are able to recover from Achilles’ injuries and continue their careers. Cory Raymer suffered the same injury in 2002 when he was with San Diego, but rebounded to play in 15 of 16 games for the Chargers the following season. He has shown no sign of regression this year as the Redskins' starting center. The first three months of rehabilitation is spent simply letting the tendon heal completely, followed by some minor stretching. The path of rehabilitation is a lengthy one, but one that Jansen will tackle with the same tenacity that earned him the nickname “Rock”.
“My rehab process is going slow”, Jansen said. “The doctors say my best chance for a full recovery, which I fully intend to make, is to take it slow and be patient.”
Two months into the rehabilitation process, Jansen is slowly making the adjustment from player to observer. It is a difficult adjustment to make, but Jansen is not letting it affect his overall view of things.
“My outlook for the game is still the same. I’ve always played every game like it could be my last” Jansen told theHogs.net. “I will still have that view.”
The time Jansen is spending in rehabilitation, instead of on the field, may actually be of benefit to the burly tackle. The offensive line is a tough place to make a living, and as a result, an offensive lineman rarely makes it through a season without at least suffering minor injuries.
Jansen said, “I also intend to use this year to heal other bumps and bruises, which I hope will actually add years to my playing career.”
In light of not only Jansen’s injury, but other high-profile injuries the last two seasons, many people around the league have insinuated that changes should be made to the pre-season to prevent so many injuries from occurring in meaningless games. Jansen disagrees.
“Having less preseason games wouldn't have made a difference in my injury or many others, really” Jansen said. “Guys are still going to have injuries, no matter if it is in the regular season or before. The only difference is during the regular season the team got more out of your injury than if it happened in the preseason.”
Jansen’s aspiration to become a coach someday came to the forefront during the media coverage following the injury. Jansen is one of the great technicians to play tackle in today’s game, and is one of the most vocal leaders in the Redskins locker room. These attributes should combine to make him a great coach someday, however Jansen isn’t ready to think about life after football just yet.
“Some day I would like to get into the coaching profession, but not until I have exhausted all of my playing opportunities”. Jansen added, “Knowing I should still be out there playing has made it difficult to get into the coaching mode”.
Jansen, like John Wayne, will always be successful at whatever he chooses to do. As Ethan Edwards, a Wayne character in the movie Searchers once said, “I don’t believe in surrenders.” Jansen does not surrender. He is a warrior who plays with heart and pride and gives his all on every snap. He is a warrior who will beat this injury and be stronger for it.
Jon Jansen will be back in the saddle next season, and you can expect him to ride off into the Hawaiian sunset, because that’s what men like John Wayne and Jon Jansen do.
Editor's Note: Jon Jansen has agreed to grant theHogs.net four interviews to keep us
apprised of his rehabilitation, help us analyze the Redskins' season and
give us a little insight on just what makes a pro bowl caliber player tick.
We would like to thank Mr. Jansen for taking the time to interact with his
fans. We would also like to thank Tabitha Brinkerhoff from Priority Sports
and Entertainment for helping us set up these interviews.
This article was released on 2004-10-21.
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