The news was interrupted by a two-word response.
If anyone knows how and what Nick Gates was feeling the past year, dealing with the lows and the disappointment and the fears and the frustration, it is Rich Seubert. If anyone knows how and what Gates was feeling on Wednesday — the exhilaration that his Giants career is restarted — it is Seubert.
It was 19 years ago when Seubert’s football world crashed in around him after a devastating leg injury sent him to the hospital. It was barely more than one year ago when Gates’ football world crashed in around him after a devastating leg injury sent him to the hospital. Seubert, a hard-nosed offensive lineman, fought through it and returned. Gates, a hard-nosed offensive lineman, is doing the same thing, with Wednesday a milestone for him when the Giants activated him off the reserve/physically unable to perform list. He participated in practice and is expected to step foot on the field at some point this season.
“It’s impressive,’’ coach Brian Daboll said. “I mean, so many surgeries and so much rehab. Just a testament to the young man. It takes a lot of perseverance to go through what he’s been through and to be out here.’’
Gates will start out getting work at guard and center. Where he fits in remains to be seen. Perhaps he can be an immediate contributor as an extra lineman in jumbo running packages. There is no doubt that if he can hold up physically, the nasty temperament he takes to the field will be an asset, somewhere.
When Gates does get back out there, a former Giants offensive lineman will be cheering him on.
“This is what we’re programmed to do, play football,’’ Seubert told The Post. “When you get hurt, it takes you away from it, it takes football away from you for a while. But when you get the chance to come back, you realize how much you missed the game and you just want to go out there and prove to everybody they made the right decision, giving you a second chance.’’
In Week 2 last season at Washington, Gates went down with a broken left fibula and tibia, with the leg twisted in the wrong direction as he was carted off the field. He required seven surgeries and encountered a setback in the spring, as the two titanium rods holding his left leg together had to be removed and replaced. There was concern that this could not only end his football career but that he might lose the leg.
Seubert can relate. He was undrafted in 2001, unheralded out of Western Illinois and he doggedly kept blocking and instigating altercations in training camp and started all 16 games at left guard in 2002. In Week 7 of 2003, the back of Seubert’s right leg was stepped on in a game against the Eagles, causing a spiral fracture more common in skiing accidents. It shattered his fibula, tibia and ankle.
His leg was so scarred and disfigured that when he wore shorts to go shopping he sometimes changed up his story and told people staring at the leg that he was the victim of a shark attack.
Seubert’s first post-surgical start came near the end of the 2005 season.
“We played Kansas City,’’ Seubert said. “Tiki [Barber[ had three-hundred and ninety-thousand yards rushing [actually 220]. I couldn’t move for the next four days. Felt like I got hit by a truck after that game. My whole body was sore. That’s a good feeling.’’
Seubert was 26 when he resurrected his Giants career and was a fixture on the 2007 Super Bowl team. Gates is 26 as he rejoins a Giants team that is 6-1 and surging to unforeseen success.
Gates, an affable presence, was in and out of the locker room in a flash Wednesday, intent on getting in a lift. Maybe he is active for Sunday’s game in Seattle. Maybe not.
Last week, Gates steadfastly told The Post, “I definitely feel I have what it takes to play again. I think if I was out there this week or next week, I could hold my own.’’
Gates went undrafted out of Nebraska and by his second season with the Giants he was a full-time starter. He did not allow a sack at center in 2020 and, in deference to his team-first, take-no-guff persona, he was voted in as a team captain to start the 2021 season.
And now, he’s almost all the way back.
“It’s what we do,’’ said Seubert, a Wisconsin native who stayed in New Jersey after his playing career and is the head football coach at Watchung Hills Regional High School. “We get hurt but we fight our way back onto that football field and play with our teammates. That’s what Nick’s done and I’m excited for him.’’
This story originally appeared on NYPost