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Say It Ain't So, Greg

once he hit the field in Oxnard, Calif., that first day of training camp, he did nothing but try. Nothing but study. Nothing but put in extra work. He was still dubious, but figured Parcells might have seen something in him he couldn't see in himself. 

Greg Ellis made this work. You, you can take all the Randy Mosses you want, the wide receiver the Cowboys, along with 19 other teams ignored in the first round of the 1998 draft, that forever linked these two players around these parts. Me, give me a huddle-full of Greg Ellises. 

Integrity wins out in the end. Just look at them now. 

That is why the sight of Ellis being carted off the field as the third quarter was ending was so painful. So unfair. You just knew nothing good was going to come out of that ride to the locker room. 

And nothing did. Just after Marion Barber stretched the Cowboys' lead to 27-3, here came the predictable bad following a little more good: Dallas linebacker Greg Ellis had suffered a left Achilles injury, would not return. 

Oh man, not that. Not the Achilles. Not the all-important tendon which attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone, the thickest and strongest tendon the body has. 

Tear one of those suckers, and that's a season-ender. Sometimes a career-ender. When reconstructed during surgery, which Ellis is scheduled for Tuesday, the tendon must be sized and sewn together to match what it once was; to match anatomically to the one on the right side for alignment purposes. 

Now Parcells talked Monday about how he's had guys recover from torn Achilles, and how he certainly is expecting Ellis to be ready for the start of training camp, which is only 7½ months away. That may be pushing it. 

Me, I remember Kevin Smith tearing his that opener in 1995, and you know, he never really regained his speed and agility. Then again, Smith played a much more skilled position that relies more on speed than does Ellis. So did Dwayne Goodrich. We'll see. 

But Ellis, the worry wart that he is, knows the score on these torn Achilles, and he was being realistic right after he got the bad news - of course, immediately following probably, in his estimation, his best all-around performance of the season. 

"To have this happen is disappointing," Ellis said. 

So after he undressed and showered while the game wore on into the fourth quarter, Ellis, in his white warmups, by himself, walked on crutches in the solitude of the stadium hallways back toward the field. He wanted to come out again to watch. Who knows, as he said, one last time. 

Now he's not planning on this game Sunday being his last. 

"But, in case it is," Ellis said, "I can say I went back out there and walked off without somebody carting me off. That's important to me." 

This is not the first time serious injury has struck Ellis. This all made me think back to the last portion of Ellis' second year, back in December of 1999 when against Philadelphia he broke his left fibula and tibia, requiring a rod to be surgically implanted in his leg to stabilize the fracture. Same darn leg. 

Now he returned, obviously, good as new eventually, but that was seven years ago. He was much younger then. This is different. Ellis, ever the realist, realizes that. He'll turn 32 before the start of next season. Injury and age are a bad mix. 

That is why it was so hard to watch Ellis on the ground, his entire weight on his right knee and right hand, his left leg bent, but knee off the ground, almost as if he was scared to move. He was telling the guys on the charter flight back to Dallas how he thought he had just been kicked in the back of his calf. You know, that's what they all say when the Achilles unravels. 

Hate to see this happen to anyone. Hate it even worse that it's happened to Gregory Lemont Ellis. 

And you know what, I don't mind telling you so.                                               

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