"It hurt. It was tough for me emotionally. Everything that was at stake for me, for this team-I came [to camp] because I wanted to be a part of it," Maclin said. "I feel like this could have been something special, something different, that the league has never really seen before. I wanted to be a part of that, wanted to be a key piece to it. It just sucks that I won't be able to go out there and play this year."
Maclin held a towel to his face Saturday as he rode off the practice field on a cart.
"It wasn't the fact that it hurt; it was the fact that I knew what happened," Maclin said. "I was emotional, just knowing everything that was at stake. This is something I love to do. I love to play football . . . I tried to go left, my right leg didn't want me to go left, I feel like."
The injury conceivably could help the Eagles keep Maclin, in that they will be in a better position than any other team to assess his rehab, and he is unlikely to break the bank elsewhere, coming off a lost year.
"I don't want to leave this city. We'll see," said Maclin, who said the injury involves only the ACL, not the MCL as well, as sometimes happens. "I guess we'll cross that bridge when it comes."
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman spoke with reporters about the loss of Maclin before the team put on pads for the first time under Chip Kelly, in the first of five scheduled public training camp workouts at the Linc. Roseman was questioned closely about the fact that Maclin was being a "good soldier," not making waves about his contract, not holding out, and this was what he reaped.
"Jeremy did all the right things," Roseman said. "When you look at the history of guys who have held out, things don't necessarily work out for those guys, too . . . we care a lot about Jeremy Maclin.
"Jeremy's a heckuva player. Great character, hard worker, he had a great offseason. It's disappointing for him and it's disappointing for us."
Maclin can draw on his experience from the summer of 2006, when he tore the same ACL just before his freshman year at Missouri.
"It was devastating," he recalled. "It's very challenging mentally. Luckily for me, the first time around, I had some supportive people in my corner, my family and my teammates. They're definitely still behind me. Without them I don't think I could've made it through there. Now, understanding where I've come from, what I've been through, this is just another speed bump. I'll be OK. I'm going to put everything I've got into rehabbing and getting back to 100 percent."
Maclin said there have been plenty of players who have torn the same ACL twice or more and come back just fine, including his former Missouri teammate, San Diego wideout Danario Alexander, who has undergone four ACL repairs. Given that there were 7 years between Maclin's tears, it wouldn't seem likely there is any sort of major structural problem.
"This is my second time around, but I've got all the faith in the world that I'll come back even stronger than I was before," said Maclin, the Eagles' first-round draft choice in 2009, who was the team's leading receiver last season, with 69 catches for 857 yards and seven touchdowns.
"I'm going to be supportive. I'm not going to be one of those guys that goes MIA. I'm going to be here, after I'm all repaired and ready to rehab," Maclin said. "I'm going to be back there supporting my teammates" as he was yesterday, watching from the sideline in red sweatpants and a white T-shirt. "Rehabbing is going to be my season."
When Maclin went down in 2006 he was relatively unknown, and there was no Twitter. This time around he seemed to spend much of Saturday evening responding to players around the league who were sending encouragement. Those included Broncos receiver Wes Welker, who tore his ACL in January 2010 and was ready to play by the 2010 season opener.
"The players in the NFL know that we go from a day-to-day basis, that at any given time, everything that you work hard for can be taken away from you," Maclin said. "They feel the pain . . . Wes reached out to me; I know he had a similar situation. They understand."
Maclin said he suffered his 2006 tear in late July, underwent surgery in August, and was running the 40-yard dash by February. "I did spring ball with no brace on," he said.
Roseman alluded to challenges Maclin has overcome in the past. He was raised primarily by his youth football coach in suburban St. Louis, Dr. Jeff Parres, and Parres' wife, Cindy, after Parres became concerned about Maclin's chaotic home life. In addition to the 2006 ACL tear, Maclin endured an infection in 2011 that eluded diagnosis for months and sapped his strength.
"I've been battle-tested," Maclin said. "I think I've got the right mindset, the right approach to the situation. I think I'll be OK."