Speaking publicly for the first time since a bar fight last month, Terrance Knighton opened with an apology.
He apologized to the city of Jacksonville and the organization Tuesday for ”embarrassing them with the actions that happened that night.” Then he answered any and every question about that night, his rehabilitation and his chances of making a full recovery.
If his eye responds as well, the Jaguars should have their run-stuffing defender back in time for training camp.
”I have a job to do, and right now I can’t do it because of my actions that night,” Knighton said. ”I could have avoided the situation and not tried to break it up. That’s what club security is for. Me seeing a friend, I tried to help. It’s a lesson learned.”
Knighton said he tried to break up a fight involving a friend at a Jacksonville nightclub April 8. Knighton was hit on the top of his head with a bottle, which shattered, and a piece of glass cut his left eye.
The 340-pound lineman needed staples in his head and stitches in his eye. He temporarily lost vision and had to get a second eye surgery to remove a cataract that formed for protection. His vision has slowly returned and has now improved to 20/60.
”It’s a lot better,” Knighton said. ”Still a little blurry, just basically waiting on my left eye to catch up with my right eye. Each doctor appointment I go to it’s looking better. … They’re happy about the recovery and how fast it’s going.”
Knighton said the ordeal made him rethink staying out late at night.
”For me, it’s a lesson learned,” he said. ”I don’t see myself ever being put in that situation again. … It’s a blessing from God that I could be alive, let alone being able to see again. It’s something I won’t forget and hopefully in the future talk to younger guys about. It’ll be a good story to talk about.”
One part of the story that Knighton disputes is a line in the police report that said he and his friends threatened to shoot people as they were leaving the bar.
”I don’t know why my name was placed with those threats being made,” he said. ”I can’t recall if my friend said that, but like I said my concern was getting to the hospital. I wasn’t concerned about retaliation or anything like that. I’ve discussed that with my attorney and the police officers, and witnesses that were there can tell you that my main thing was getting to the car.
”I didn’t make any threats. I didn’t give the police a hard time. Me, being in this position, I know the consequences of something like that, of being arrested and it being worse. My concern was getting to the hospital.”
Although Knighton is wearing protective glasses at times, the only noticeable difference Tuesday was some swelling around his left eye.
Following his 15-minute news conference, Knighton headed to the practice field for the start of organized team activities. The Jaguars are limiting what he’s allowed to do.
”Right now I can work out, lift,” Knighton said. ”I’ll do some football-related stuff on the side and continue to make progress. I just have to be careful not pushing it too much and having any setbacks and stay on course.”
Knighton and the team hope he will be ready for training camp in late July.
A third-round pick in 2009, Knighton has started 45 games in three seasons. He has 198 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks, and was a cornerstone of a defense that ranked sixth in the league in 2011.
Coaches and teammates were relieved to see Knighton back at the facility.
”He’s a big part of our defense,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. ”He’s doing real well. It makes me feel good to see him doing good so that helps me out a lot. He’s definitely a big part of our defense and it’s going to be great to see the big man back out on the field.”
From everything Knighton has been told, he will make a full recovery.
”I feel the same way,” coach Mike Mularkey said. ”He’s done some things earlier than I anticipated him doing, so I would hope to think he would be back by camp. It’s looking like it’s going in that direction.”