Brackens calls it a year, opts for knee surgery

JACKSONVILLE — Tony Brackens decided to end the charade Tuesday, calling it quits on a season in which his injured knee kept him from practicing regularly or playing up to his standards.

The Jacksonville Jaguars placed their all-time sack leader on injured reserve, allowing him to have surgery on the ailing left knee that made him a shell of his former Pro Bowl self.

“He has shown patience and perseverance, he has played with pain, and he has tried to be the productive player that we know he is,” Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. “But instead of gaining confidence in the knee, he has been losing confidence.”

Brackens practiced once a week and played in about half the plays this season. He finished the season with 16 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery in five games. Last week, the seventh-year veteran said he saw no improvement in the ailing knee and saw no light at the end of the tunnel either.

Last January, Brackens had an operation to remove scarring from the knee. He told doctors not to work on any further damage that might exist, so that he wouldn’t miss this season in rehab.

In November 2000, Brackens’ former teammate, Hardy Nickerson, was in a similar situation. Doctors did more extensive surgery on Nickerson’s knee than Nickerson requested, and he wound up missing the final seven games of the season because of it.

Knowing of Nickerson’s fate, Brackens made the decision to deal with the clean-up operation in January, play with the remaining damage this season, and look into surgery once this season was over.

Coughlin said an MRI done Monday revealed worn cartilage in the knee that could no longer be ignored.

“At this point, the prudent move is for Tony to go ahead and undergo surgery so the knee can heal,” Coughlin said.