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Steve Weatherford Will Play

After missing the Wild Card game with the Bengals due to an irregular heartbeat, Steve Weatherford will be back in the lineup to punt Sunday at San Diego. Steve described his health scare to the press yesterday.

Steve Weatherford's heart raced so fast that doctors were forced to pull him out of Saturday's playoff game between the Jets and the Bengals. Weatherford's mind raced so fast he wondered if he'd ever play football again.

The Jets' punter was a physical and emotional mess.

"Literally broke my heart," Weatherford said Tuesday, a day after a stress test cleared him to play Sunday in the AFC divisional game at San Diego. "You train all year long and 10 minutes before the game starts, I can't breathe; felt like I was going to pass out. It was scary because I couldn't control it at all. I'm trying to relax and get my heart rate down, but I'm sitting here watching my teammates play on TV and I can't get my heart rate down."

Weatherford said his heart rate, which should average 75 to 80 beats a minute, stayed between 175 and 180 for almost the entire first half. So there he sat, strapped to an EKG machine and monitored by doctors and trainers, forced to watch a game in which he desperately wanted to participate.

"He actually ripped out the IVs and ran out on the field and told me he was going to kick," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "It was like, 'Oh, no, you're not.' "

Weatherford said he spent the past few days in and out of the hospital being tested, and he's been prescribed daily medication to regulate his heart rate, including some that can quickly slow the rate down should Saturday's incident repeat. He has a genetic condition that initially was diagnosed in high school, and for which he had surgery as a college sophomore. He's had no serious problems since, but when it flared last weekend, Weatherford feared the worst.

Scary stuff indeed. The scene on the sideline certainly was a contrast to what many myself included assumed when we heard the punter wasn't playing because he was "ill." Weatherford's made of some pretty tough stuff. We were wrong and unfair to judge before the facts were out. All of us are touched by heart disease at some point whether it be a family member or ourselves. I personally have a minor heart ailment I have lived with my entire life so I can definitely feel Steve's pain in fear of something flaring up.

Here's hoping Steve doesn't have to punt Sunday. We want the Jets to score every time they have the ball. If they don't, let's hope he has the game of his life.