July 18, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Seattle Seahawks certainly didn’t give up on Garrett Scott. So, why should the former Marshall star offensive tackle give up his dream of playing pro football?
Scott’s football future still hangs in the balance as the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks open 2014 training camp next week in Renton, Wash. Scott will be there … he just can’t work on the field yet with players he considers his new teammates.
Through a battery of tests conducted with physicals, the NFL club found an irregularity in Scott’s heart in late May after the Seahawks had picked the Herd star in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
He was held out of minicamp on-field work – but the club still signed him to a four-year, $2.321 million contract, and guaranteed his signing bonus of $101,672.
“I was disappointed and I felt bad,” Scott said here Thursday while standing outside the Shewey Building football offices during a week back on the MU campus before heading back to the Pacific Northwest. “I felt like everything was taken away from me, all the work I had put in.
“I felt like it was all gone. I sat back and prayed, and (the Seahawks) said, ‘You know what, it’s still possible you can play.’ So, I have one more test go through to see if I can play this year. Either way, I’ll be part of the Seahawks’ family for this whole year.”
The Douglas, Ga., native made 35 starts in his Marshall career and played 1,007 snaps last season in helping the Herd to its 10-4 finish and a Military Bowl victory over Maryland. The 6-foot-4, 307-pounder had no physical issues, but what the NFL club called a rare heart irregularity appeared in his pre-minicamp physical.
“They said I had an enlarged heart, like on one of my ventricle walls at first,” Scott said. “But what they’re saying right now, it’s called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where one wall is larger than the others.
“They say it could have been from strenuous activity from working out hard, like I did to get ready to be drafted and before camp. A lot of stuff can play into it, because when I was here, I was fine. I got a screen here, at Marshall, and everything showed I was fine.
“Your heart is a muscle, so when you work, your heart works. So, those days when I was doing two-a-days, going at it by myself, working to get drafted, I could have triggered something then. That’s why they have me on a period now where I’m not working out at all. Nothing.
“We’ll just see where everything goes.”
Here’s what a Mayo Clinic website says about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed because many people with the disease have few, if any, symptoms. In a small number of people with HCM, the thickened heart muscle can cause shortness of breath and problems in the heart's electrical system, resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Fortunately, people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often lead normal lives with no significant problems.
“I signed a four-year contract, and if I see where I can’t get cleared, either way, the organization said they’ll take care of me,” Scott said. “There are lots of job opportunities out there, but I’m still very hopeful of this next test.
“I got good news recently in that I had one test come back negative, and so that was a good sign of everything working in my favor. I’m just staying positive, all I can do, praying that everything will work out all right.”
Scott got his Marshall undergraduate degree and was picked in the NFL Draft on the same weekend. Two weeks later, the news was devastating.
But the Seahawks stepped up and signed Scott with the knowledge that he might never play a down or even make a practice squad.
“We think highly of Garrett as a person and as a football player,” Seahawks General Manager John Schneider said in a statement after the tackle was idled. “The team is committed to supporting Garrett in the months to come and will continue to help him determine his next steps.”
Schneider also said the deal with Scott “enables him to go and see different experts, and allows us to either assist in getting him back on the playing field in 2015, or helping him transition to his post-football career. We’re just blessed that our docs dug further into the player and hopefully helped save a life.”
Scott said he knows things could have gone very different for him.
“I talked with a lot of people and they said the Seahawks didn’t have to do any of what they did for me,” Scott said. “I’m grateful. And when I talked to Mr. Schneider and Coach (Pete) Carroll and they told me, ‘Hey Garrett, we’re going to honor the contract,’ I was speechless.
“I mean, I worked for that, but I felt like they didn’t have to do that and I don’t know, I’m still speechless about it. When the organization offered me that, I don’t want to say it was a relief. It was just something, like, ‘OK, it’s something for comfort, and it’s great, tremendous, but I still want to play.’
“So, then basically what they were telling me was, ‘Hey, just for you to stay around here, find a place to live right now,’ because they want me out there. And I want to be out there as bad as they want me, if not more.”
Scott reports to Seattle’s camp on Tuesday. He said he expects his next heart test to determine whether he can play football to take place “probably about a month from now.”
“They don’t want to do back-to-back scans like that,” he said. “It’s a lot of stuff there, but I think everything right now is looking good. No medication … I’m just on a digressive period where I’m not working out. That’s what they think it really was, so if that’s what it was, they just want me to go about it certain ways and take my time.”
Scott, the son of Rev. Randolph and Tina Scott of Coffee County, Ga., had an older brother (Randolph Jr.) who died at a young age with heart disease.
“It wasn’t the same thing,” the former Herd tackle said when asked if his condition was similar. “They looked at a lot of things, they even checked (his brother’s) autopsy, where it was something totally different.
But they took that precaution, and that’s where we are, a precaution. What it’s about is being cautious, because that’s the last thing anybody wants -- the last thing I want -- is somebody to pass away on the football field. There’s just a lot of stuff playing into it right now.”
If prayer helps, Scott has a chance, because he’s been doing that. And after he was held out of physical activity, Scott said, “There are some things we don’t understand, but God knows exactly what he’s doing.”
Scott knows what he’ll be doing by this time next week, under the tutelage of Seahawks’ offensive line coach Tom Cable, the former Oakland Raiders’ head coach.
“I’ll be out there, in camp, basically doing what I’ve been doing, showing up for film study, out there paying attention at practice, learning from the veterans there … just pretty much doing the usual.
“The main part, it’s all a mental thing for me. Since I can’t do it physically, they’re working me mentally. Coach Cable said, I’m going to put you under reps mentally …
“He’s a lot like Coach (Alex) Mirabal (Marshall’s offensive line coach). Coach Cable’s taller, but everybody’s taller than Coach Mirabal. That’s about the only difference. They both have that great coaching spirit, going to get after you.”
If Scott can play this season and is on the active roster, his salary will be a reported $420,000. If he is able to return starting in 2015, his remaining contract years are for $510,000, followed by $600,000 and $690,000.
Right now, he’s what the NFL calls “non-football injured reserve.”
He remains positive, he said.
“I don’t know percentages,” Scott said, “but I’d say it’s very likely I’ll be out there. If it’s not this season, then after that.”