Charger center Don Macek underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Wednesday, and the news wasn’t good. The damage was so extensive that Macek will be out indefinitely, perhaps for the season.
Gary Losse, the Chargers’ team physician, said after performing the operation that the procedure involved the rotator cuff. Considering Macek’s age, 34, and the fact that he is in his 13th season in the NFL, the injury could be career-threatening. Macek had hinted that this season might be his last.
Macek will be placed on injured reserve, and his understudy, Dan Rosado, will take over at center for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Rosado, 29, is the only full-blooded Puerto Rican in the NFL. He also is the only player in the league who took a 4-year detour into the business world between his college and pro careers. All told, he has waited 8 years for the chance he will finally get Sunday.
When Rosado graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1980 at the age of 20, the 28 NFL teams avoided him completely. Not only did they ignore him in the draft, none even gave him a look as a free agent.
This left Rosado with no choice but to go to work, and he got a job as sales manager for a soft-drink firm in Houston. Four years later, the United States Football League came along, and Rosado was the only one of 600 players to be signed out of a tryout camp run by the Houston Gamblers.
“When the USFL folded, I tried out with Miami, but I got cut twice,” Rosado said Wednesday. “That was embarrassing. I was a success in business, but I want to play football, and up to now that escaped me.”
Actually, Rosado has been a Charger since the players’ strike of a year ago. He started the three replacement games at right guard and earned a roster spot after the strike. But he played in only one regular game before going on injured reserve with a pinched nerve in his neck and made only a cameo appearance in the season opener this year before Macek got hurt.
“I’ll definitely be nervous,” Rosado said. “But I’ve been practicing with the first team for two weeks because of Macek’s injury, so I should be OK.”
Rosado, 6-feet 3-inches and 280 pounds, was originally a baseball player but switched to football because of his zest for combat.
“I was too big for baseball,” he said. “My dad didn’t like the idea very much. Baseball is the big sport in Puerto Rico. By the day he died, he might have found out what a first down was.”
Of his hiatus from football, Rosado said, “It’s funny, but after four years of doing nothing, I was stronger at 24 than I’d been at 20.”
Coach Al Saunders said that offensive lineman James FitzPatrick probably would be activated to fill Macek’s spot on the roster. FitzPatrick has been on injured reserve with a back injury.
Saunders added that running back Barry Redden, on injured reserve with a broken wrist, would continue to wear a cast for “another week or two.”
Both were eligible to come off the injured reserve list last week.
Cornerback Elvis Patterson, who suffered shoulder and neck injuries in the loss to the Denver Broncos last Sunday, did not practice Wednesday and was listed as questionable (50-50) for the New Orleans game. Linebacker Gary Plummer (shoulder and concussion) and tight end Eric Sievers (neck) also are questionable, but Saunders said they were closer than Patterson to being ready. Patterson didn’t suit up for practice. . . . The Saints listed tight end Hoby Brenner and linebacker Pat Swilling, both with sore abdominal muscles, as questionable. . . . The Chargers worked without pads, because, as Coach Al Saunders put it, “They took enough hits last Sunday. Sometimes teams go four weeks without pads.” . . . Another TV blackout became a virtual certainty when Jack Teele, director of administration, projected attendance between 48,000 and 49,000 for Sunday’s game. The deadline for selling out the 60,750-seat stadium in time to televise locally is 1 p.m. today.