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Tonight’s Game Especially Big for Nelson

<i> Associated Press </i>

For the opening Monday night game of the NFL regular season, let’s not talk about football.

Let’s ignore that this is a matchup between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants, the last two Super Bowl champions.

Let’s talk real-life issues.

The Giants’ Karl Nelson will play in his first regular season game since doctors discovered he had Hodgkin’s disease in August, 1987.

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What followed was almost four months of radiation treatment, shoulder surgery in March and conditioning to get ready to play again.

“I guess this will be (special) because I didn’t play last year,” Nelson said. “It’s been a while since I have played in a regular season game. It will be a big night for me for sure.”

Nelson’s comeback has been uncertain. After the cancer went into remission, Giants Coach Bill Parcells continually referred to Nelson’s status as “a question mark.” The offensive right tackle job was his, provided the 28-year-old earned it, Parcells said.

So Nelson trained and got his weight back up into the 280s, regaining the 25 pounds he lost.

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Nelson was a main attraction of the media and fans on and off the field at training camp. But the comeback wasn’t complete, and Nelson frequently needed a day of rest at practice, something Parcells knew the Giants could not afford.

So two weeks into camp Parcells accused Nelson of babying his shoulder and holding back.

“He’s got every excuse in the book for not making it,” Parcells said to reporters. “All you guys write is damn sympathy articles.”

Nelson said he took it in stride.

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“That’s his job, to try to get his players ready,” Nelson said. “I was a big project for him. Hopefully I got it done.”


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