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Mosebar Can See Clearly a Future Without Football

June 23, 1996|MIKE KUPPER

The Oakland Raiders will open training camp next month in Napa and Don Mosebar will miss it. But he won't miss it.

That is, he won't be there, but he won't mind.

"That's the thing I really won't miss--training camp," he says. "That was always my least favorite time of the year."

He doesn't figure he will miss what follows training camp, either, the NFL season. He didn't last fall, he says.

He does believe his career as only the third man ever to play center regularly for the Raiders ended much too abruptly--"I could have maybe played another year or two. I was hoping to play some more"--but he has accepted that.

In fact, Mosebar, 34, formerly of the USC Trojans and now formerly of the Raiders as well, has accepted everything that has happened--and not happened--since that morning scrimmage last August in Austin, Texas, when his left eye erupted in an explosion of blood and pain.

"I played a long time [12 seasons with the Raiders] and I enjoyed it," he says. "I'm just enjoying life now, just being with my family."

What has happened, besides the end of his football career? There have been half a dozen operations on the eye, each with all the bothersome recuperation surgery implies. There has been pain. There has been irritation.

"It feels scratchy all the time," he says. "Sort of raw and dry."

And what has not happened? The sight in Mosebar's left eye has not returned.

"There's some light perception," he says. "That's about it."

And even that is a mixed blessing.

"Sunlight bothers it," he says.

Nor is there much hope for change.

"There's a slight chance it may improve later on," he says. "[Doctors have] seen it sometimes, but the odds are against it. The best-case scenario is just to see more movement. It's damaged too bad to get real good vision out of it. I'm just thankful I have one good eye."

When the injury occurred, no one really was able to say just what had happened. Mosebar was playing across the line from defensive tackle Chad Hennings of the Dallas Cowboys, then suddenly he was on his knees, blood running down his face. There were unverified reports of a head slap by Hennings, a finger poke. . . . Whatever happened had Mosebar in more pain than he had ever experienced.

He thinks he knows now what happened. He thinks that, somehow, accidentally, Hennings got a hand through the facemask on Mosebar's helmet.

"There's a very small [opening]," he says. "A hand can fit in there, but just barely. I just snapped the ball and, boom, it was just right in there. The impact crushed the lower bone socket and the top half of my eyeball just split open. [The force of the collision] just crushed it.

"It was a freak thing. [Hennings] didn't know he did it. It could have been any one of 100 different guys."

So now, Mosebar spends most of his time with his wife and four children, at home in Manhattan Beach, happy to be there.

"Even while I was playing, it was God first, my family next and the job third," he says. "Football wasn't the focus of my whole life. I still have God and my family, so that's most important.

"People ask me if I miss football and seem surprised when I tell them, 'Not really,' but right now, I'm just choosing to be with my family. We were initially thinking of moving [to a more rural area], but we really enjoy being here and we're going to stay. We like the ocean, the beach area. We have good friends here. We'd be leaving a lot behind."

Mosebar says he can do most of the things he always did, with some limitations.

"Driving--you have to be a little more cautious," he says. "And when you're around people, you have to be careful not to turn too quick. Somebody might be right next to you and you don't know it. Depth perception was really hard at first. It's improved a little bit, but still. . . .

"I tried playing Ping-Pong--I used to play in college--and I whiffed three or four times in a row. But that's no big deal.

"I don't do too much in the way of physical activity now. I just want to take a break. I did that 20 years in a row."

Mostly, Mosebar is just letting life happen these days. Asked what he sees himself doing in two or three years, he says, "I don't know the answer to that."

There has been speculation that he is ticketed for a job with the Raiders.

"I haven't really pursued that," he says. "We haven't really talked about it."

He adds, however, that the Raiders have been great to him.

"Anything I needed, they were there to help," he says. "Contrary to what a lot of people in L.A. think about Al Davis and the Raiders, it was a good organization to play in and he was a good owner to play for."

But when camp opens next month in Napa, Mosebar won't be there. He'll be home with his family, counting his blessings.

"With my belief, I feel God turns things around and makes something good out of bad things," he says. "I'm spending a lot of time with my family. And this has shown me how many friends we have, people we know, and how important and special they are."

It would seem that former football player Don Mosebar, he of the ruptured eye, has very little trouble seeing clearly.

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