GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was never any doubt in John Abraham's mind that he’d return to the Cardinals for his 15th NFL season.
While he missed almost three weeks of training camp for “personal stuff,” the idea of retiring never crossed the 36-year-old’s mind. The time away was to take care of his personal matters so he could “have a clear mind when the season starts.”
“Hell naw,” he said. “That have been dumb as hell for me to do that. Football has given a lot to me. The Cardinals have gave a lot to me.”
But one number in particular kept Abraham’s focus while he dealt with the aftermath of being arrested on June 29 and charged with DUI in suburban Atlanta. He’s 8 1/2 sacks away from passing Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s 141 1/2 sacks for fifth on the career sack list.
“That’s one of my goals,” Abraham said. “I can’t do that sitting on the couch.”
Abraham, who entered the top 10 on the all-time sack list last season, said he didn’t start tracking his stats until he hit 100 sacks in 2010. Amazed then that he hit that plateau, Abraham said it’s hard to believe he played at the same caliber last season as a 22- or 23-year-old.
While his goal may seem self-serving, Abraham believes his sack output in turn helps the team. And after looking at the schedule last week, he knows the Cards need all the help they can get.
“I really just sat and looked at the schedule the other night and I’m like, yeah, we’re going to have to play this year,” he said. “There’s no gimme games this year.”
But in order to catch Strahan, Abraham will have to return to the field.
He said Thursday, the day he reported to camp, that his return to the field hasn't been decided. It’ll be taken day by day as Abraham gets back into football shape. He reported to camp heavier than the 248 pounds he weighed last season, the result of eating candy, Abraham said. But his starting job as the Cards’ WILL linebacker will be waiting whenever he begins practicing.
“If it was an issue I had to work for, I would have no problem with that,” Abraham said. “Knowing the guys and they know me, getting a relationship with the guys that I have now, I think they know that what kind of guy and what kind of player I am.
“I put the numbers up and they know when I get in football season, I’m Football John. It means a lot but also if I had to work for it, I would’ve did it.”
As much as he wants to begin practicing, Abraham doesn’t want to rush his return. He’ll first need to learn the new schemes that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles installed during the offseason.
Then he can strap on the pads.
“These guys have been at it for a couple weeks now and [for] me to try to come in there and just think I’m going to jump back in and I haven’t hit nobody in a while, and they’ve been hitting and getting in shape, pretty much doing what they got to do, I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy of trying to come back too fast and getting injured and missing more time than I need to.”