Garry McCarthy to have out-patient surgery for ‘proverbial old football injury’

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Garry McCarthy encourages his officers at the start of the Chicago Police Department vs. Chicago Fire Department football game at Brother Rice High School in 2012. | Sun-Times file photo

Garry McCarthy won’t be sidelined from the campaign trail for more than a day. But he might be limping along a bit.

McCarthy, the fired Chicago police superintendent-turned-mayoral challenger, will have out-patient surgery on Thursday to repair a torn meniscus in his knee tied to, what he called “the proverbial old football injury.”

The 59-year-old McCarthy played varsity football in high school, Division I college football and baseball at the State University of New York at Albany and continued to play organized football for police department teams in New York City and Newark, N.J. until he turned 50.

On Wednesday, McCarthy was asked whether he has any regrets about having played football for as long and as hard as he did, risking injuries that could plague him for the rest of his life.

“No. That’s my personality,” McCarthy said.

“I had a lot of fun doing it. It wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. But it was fun. I have very few regrets in life. That is definitely not one of them.”

McCarthy said he had surgery on his other knee — not the one with the torn meniscus — after injuring his knee during a police department game 13 years ago.

“The doctor said, ‘Leave it alone because it would have been too much surgery at once,'” McCarthy recalled.

“It hasn’t bothered me for 13 years. Then all of the sudden in the last month or two, it just kind of blew up on me. So, this is an in-and-out, one-two-three not a big deal.”

McCarthy hesitated when asked if he’d allow his toddler son to play football, given what he now knows about CTE and the devastating impact of head injuries and repeated concussions among football players.

“Uhhhh … I’d seriously considering not letting him play football with the traumatic injuries that are possible and the whole issue of the concussions, what we’ve learned over the years,” McCarthy said.

“The technology is a lot better than when I was playing and when my oldest brother played. … Just the change in the helmets in that time frame … is enormous, which has helped a lot. But, I’m [still] not sure [about letting his son play football]. And who knows? Maybe he doesn’t want to play sports. Maybe he wants to play the piano. Whatever it is that he wants to do, I’ll support.”

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