During training camp earlier this year, FOX Sports broadcaster and former Pittsburgh Steelers great Terry Bradshaw visited Redskins Park for a one-on-one interview with head coach Joe Gibbs. During a break in the interview, LaVar Arrington walked in so that he could meet Bradshaw for the first time. He gave Bradshaw a hug and then posed for pictures with both Bradshaw and Gibbs.
It'll be a memento he'll keep for the rest of his life. Arrington grew up in Pittsburgh idolizing the great Steelers teams of the 1970s, all led by Bradshaw and Hall of Famers Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Joe Greene and many others. He attended North Hills High School in Pittsburgh and is regarded as one of the greatest prep players ever to emerge from Western Pennsylvania.
It's safe to say that Arrington had long ago circled this Sunday's Redskins-Steelers matchup as a game he was looking forward to playing.
But team officials have listed Arrington as out for the game as he continues to rehabilitate from arthroscopic knee surgery.
"Pittsburgh is where it all started for me, so it's rough not to play," a downbeat Arrington said on Wednesday. "The Redskins are going to my hometown without me--it's rough."
Arrington has not been active for a game since Week 2 against the New York Giants. He had surgery on Sept. 24 and was expected to return to the lineup in late October, but he experienced a setback during a practice in the days leading up to the Green Bay game.
Arrington remains uncertain of when he'll be able to return to action.
"I've been pinpointing a return since I've been hurt," he said. "I'll just wait for [team doctors] to give me the green light."
Arrington has attended all of the Redskins home games this season and watched from the sidelines. He admires how well his teammates have played through adversity. The Redskins' defense is ranked No. 2 overall in the NFL behind the Steelers' top-ranked unit.
"I wish I was a part of this because I know this game is going to be a bang," Arrington said. "Our defense is No. 2 behind their defense. They say you have to beat the champ to be the champ. Even though it's been a difficult season, we're still striving to be the best, and to be the best defense is one of the goals we're striving for.
"In my whole career, I've never seen so many starters go down with injuries in a season. It's been a character-building year. To be the No. 1 or No. 2 defense most of the year, we've had guys stepping up to the plate and really trying to make a difference--and making a difference."
Even as frustrating as this season has been for the three-time Pro Bowler, Arrington said he had plenty to be thankful for this holiday season.
On Tuesday of this week, he visited National Children's Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to spend time with a 7-year-old boy named Josh who has a life-threatening illness.
"He's fighting for his life," Arrington said. "They're sending him home for hospice care. I sat with him. The little boy smiled and he was so happy. His last thing was he wanted to see me. I made him promise me that we would see each other again. So we should just be thankful for having a family, having your health and having people around you who care about you.
"That's something I'm really thankful for--to make a difference in people's lives. The whole experience really touched me--a seven-year-old boy fighting for his life and I'm just talking about trying to come back from a knee injury. So for me this is a time to reflect and be thankful for a lot of things."