HEMPSTEAD, .Y. Vinny Testaverde was plopped on his couch, watching his beloved New York Jets and, like millions of other fans, could hardly believe his eyes.
In a span of seven plays Sunday, not one but two quarterbacks went down, starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler. Out for the season. Both of them, with shoulder injuries.
There was only one thing to do.
''I called Herm and said, 'I am here in whatever capacity you need me,''' Testaverde said. ''To be a teacher ... or to play, to be a starter or a backup. I want to get this team back on track to where everybody expects it to be. Whatever that role is ... I feel in a good enough position to do that.''
Suddenly, 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde is back in the NFL.
With Pennington and Fiedler gone with shoulder injuries, Testaverde likely was signed to back up untested Brooks Bollinger.
Considering Bollinger's inexperience and the way Pennington and Fiedler were battered in Sunday's 26-20 overtime loss to Jacksonville, seeing Testaverde behind center soon a cruel joke a week ago isn't farfetched at all.
''Right now, Vinny is not starting, he is not running out of the tunnel in Baltimore being the starter,'' coach Herm Edwards said. ''He is going to be standing next to me. Brooks is starting. From there, we will see.''
What Edwards and Testaverde saw Sunday was something they may never see again in the NFL.
Pennington came out of the game late in the third quarter with a tender right shoulder, but went back in when Fiedler dislocated his right shoulder after six plays. Pennington, who underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in February, had little on his throws, and an MRI exam Monday revealed another tear in the rotator cuff.
Pennington and Fiedler were on the same flight to Alabama to see Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist who repaired Pennington's shoulder earlier this year.
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