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Blackburn puts future on hold for Giants

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Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press
New York Giants' Chase Blackburn runs back a fumble recovery during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 15, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Giants won 37-20.
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As Chase Blackburn has proven over the past few months, waiting really can pay off when it comes to keeping an ambition alive.

Since last winter, the 2001 Marysville High School graduate has gone from having his dream job to being out of work to thinking about another potential career.

Blackburn, in some ways, epitomizes a typical NFL player when it comes to the ups and downs he’s endured after he wasn’t re-signed by the New York Giants after the 2010 season.

Out of work for several months, Blackburn wasn’t so much ready to move on as he was aware of the possibility that maybe his time as a player at football’s highest level was over after six seasons.

Blackburn had a talk one day last fall with Dublin Sells Middle School principal Rich Baird about a potential teaching position that was expected to become available.

During his time away from the game, his second son, Bentley, was born Nov. 1, and he got to enjoy Thanksgiving with his family in central Ohio.

Still, he couldn’t have been happier when his phone rang Nov. 29 with the offer he’d been waiting for.

That’s when the Giants, whose linebacking corps had been decimated by injuries, asked the 6-foot-3, 247-pounder who served as special teams captain a year ago to return.

It was a call that he thought might not come.

“After the lockout (last summer), I was very hopeful to re-sign, and every time you get a call for a workout you’re hoping for the best,” Blackburn said. “To not get picked up hurt a little bit, but my second son was born when I was at home, and being that I was unemployed, I was able to be at the hospital and able to be back in Ohio with my family for Thanksgiving.”

Dwelling on those positives, combined with the confidence he had in his abilities, helped Blackburn persevere throughout those frustrating months.

His story since that time reads more like a fairy tale than reality.

In his first game back, Blackburn intercepted a pass from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and had seven tackles in the Giants’ 38-35 loss Dec. 4.

He has helped solidify the Giants’ run defense and, during the fourth quarter of New York’s 37-20 victory over the Packers in an NFC divisional playoff game Jan. 15, had a 40-yard return after a fumble recovery to set up a touchdown.

The Giants play at San Francisco on Sunday, Jan. 22, with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.

This isn’t, however, the first time the former Monarchs basketball and football star has overcome the odds.

Considered small for his position when he signed with the University of Akron, Blackburn signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2005.

He made two tackles during the Giants’ 17-14 victory over New England in the 2008 Super Bowl.

Those previous successes proved to Blackburn that he had what it takes to continue in the game — if he could just make it through the waiting.

“I just think God’s going to give you an opportunity, and you’ve got to take advantage of it when it comes,” Blackburn said. “You have to be ready when it’s available. After playing for six years and then starting over when free-agency season came, I still believed in myself and believed I would be signed this season or next year for training camp.”

In athletics and in life, it’s that ability to cope with uncertainty that builds character and helps make aspirations come true.

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