Packers Building a Winner Through Character

Packers value high character to maintain their winning culture

There are no other NFL stadiums where you can park on someone's front lawn and only have a five-minute walk to the front gates. CheeseheadTV's Corey Behnke can plant sunflowers in his backyard and look up to see what the time is on Lambeau Field's "Lombardi time" clock.  Not only the stadium, but the team itself keeps a "friendly neighbor" feeling that is by design. 

For seemingly the entirety of my almost 40-year life, the Green Bay Packers have always valued high-character players overall. Whenever there was a player with a rap sheet or a history of being difficult on the market, I could pretty much guarantee the Packers would have no interest. Funny enough I'd always figure those players would end up as Raiders or Cowboys, and that fact seems to be still true today. Put aside your college stats, and toss out your RAS scores, it's time you start focusing on player character over anything else when predicting Packers' draft picks. 

Doesn't talent sometimes trump off-field issues? For some it might, but for Green Bay, it certainly does not. If you're heading into the draft and there's a player with some questionable attitude or off-field issues, you can guarantee the Packers will not pick them unless they fall to a pick that the team deems worth the low-risk investment. They don't want a player that their fans may not be thrilled with due to off-field issues. They also have zero interest in a draft pick where they'll have to cringe whenever he speaks to the media. 

So why do they value these guys so much?

It's easy to understand that a player of high character is much better for your locker room than those without. But it's not just about the lack of distraction that comes with them, it's about leading by example. A high-character player is much more likely to walk in the door on day 1 with a positive attitude.  It doesn't matter where they are on the depth chart, they're going to come in and give it 110% day in, and day out. They're the ones who are going to show up and bury themselves in the playbook until they know every detail. They're the ones that might schedule workouts with their teammates to get in sync. They're the ones who might plan off-field activities to build a better relationship with everyone else in the locker room. They're not just there to collect a paycheck. They're there to win and make sure everyone else around them is ready to do the same. 

The Packers have always rewarded those who have shown these high qualities with a captain's patch. Even in the times when they didn't select captains for the season and it was done on a week-to-week basis, the Pack would often give the weekly honors to one of those high-character guys who showed that quality in the past week. 

The Captain status isn't only taken into account on the NFL level though, it's also noted on a collegiate level as well. It's as if that C should stand for Character, and not just Captain. 

College Captain Status

When you look at the Packers' latest draft class it's evident just in their first three picks that they value that Captain's patch. 

Jordan Morgan drafted in the first round was a two-time team captain at Arizona from 2022 and 2023, Edgerrin Cooper was a captain at Texas A&M, and Javon Bullard was also named a team captain at Georgia.

Does this mean they're going to be captains in Green Bay? 

Not yet. It would be a pretty shocking development for the Packers to put a captain's patch on a rookie right out of camp. They'd have to drop the jaws of their teammates and coaches all summer long to earn that honor. But that previous "C" shows their maturity to lead a team though when the time comes. If they were deemed worthy by their college coaches to lead their teammates then there's a chance they could lead their NFL team as well. 

But beyond the field, the captain still has to take the lead. 

Another important aspect of being a team leader is your role off the field. This is where that neighborly feeling kicks in.  When you're an NFL player, you're given a high platform where anything you do in your community will be noticed, and your name itself can drive extra attention to anything you point to. This past fall, Packers' second-round pick, Edgerrin Cooper, suffered the loss of his girlfriend dying as the result of a tragic ATV accident. Without skipping a beat, Cooper was trying to raise money for his girlfriend's family to help pay for expenses. Some may say athletes take advantage of their platform to push their opinions too much. But it's situations like this where Cooper used his influence as the well-known football player in the area to help a family in a time of need. 

This is what it means to be a Packer. This is why the front office chooses players like this above all others. They don't want the individual that will just do it themselves when they're good and ready. They want the player that will come in and give it every ounce of energy they have every day. They will use that energy to also boost up the players around them and influence them to match their energy. And when not doing it on the football field, giving that same energy to the community they are involved with. That attitude builds a winning culture that the Packers have enjoyed for the better part of their team history.

 

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHEESEHEAD NATION WEEKLY NEWSLETTER HERE.

__________________________

Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to CheeseheadTV as well as PackersTalk. Follow him on Twitter @gmeinholz for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.

__________________________

NFL Categories: 
8 points
 

Comments (22)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
T7Steve's picture

May 01, 2024 at 02:02 pm

Be a nice guy all the way up to the sideline. Get on the field and be dirty, rotten, mean and nasty. Be nice and shake hands after the game. A true Packer team captain.

7 points
7
0
Cheezehead72's picture

May 01, 2024 at 02:30 pm

I'm your captain, I'm your captain
Though I'm feeling mighty sick
Everybody listen to me
And return me my ship

2 points
5
3
Untylu1968's picture

May 02, 2024 at 04:09 am

Ride captain ride upon your mystery ship!

1 points
2
1
Spanky65's picture

May 02, 2024 at 10:40 pm

Blues Image Hit Song

Recognize those Lyrics (Awesome)

0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

May 01, 2024 at 02:40 pm

I've said this before, and I'll say it again.

When it's the 4th quarter on a cold day, and you're on the road, and you're playing hurt, and the refs are boning you, it isn't your talent that's going to carry the day, it's your character.

Some people think that good character is somehow synonymous with choir boys. Not at all. The guys who went ashore at Normandy and Iwo Jima had plenty of character, but they were definitely not school boys.

10 points
12
2
stockholder's picture

May 01, 2024 at 05:16 pm

Wrong it's your star QB.
Brady, Rodgers Farve , Etc.
Just take KC to repeat.

-11 points
2
13
Coldworld's picture

May 01, 2024 at 05:56 pm

Choirboys they may not have been, but sadly too many should still have been schoolboys.

3 points
4
1
MitchAnthony's picture

May 01, 2024 at 03:59 pm

One of the often repeated themes with some of these picks was how many of them were former team captains. This is a young team which just may be getting a little bit younger. I'm not at all opposed to seeing how this intangible metric of potential maturity, work ethic, and leadership skills plays out. It is just one other quality that has played out for these guys up to this point and it might be a valuable one.

Too many times we have seen across the league the draft choices who brought low impulse control to the field of play. These are the guys who will draw the 15 yarder at the most inopportune time. These are the guys who lose their head and get ejected from games (maybe more than once) . They will make you gasp, facepalm and say, "Why?" Football gets intense and emotional for all players but the ones who can keep their heads aren't going to be your hanky magnets.

So, that being said it will interesting to see if there is there, there, when factoring in some of this past captain strategy when it comes to how these guys will pan out. More steady? Better team player? Keeping their pissed off fingers away from social media postings, etc. All things which could affect a younger less experienced player in the league.

Could be a little bit of a something.

3 points
5
2
Leatherhead's picture

May 01, 2024 at 06:45 pm

Bart Starr has 5 rings because he could lead. Not because of his great arm or mobility or RAS scores or anything. A man who can lead other men to victory is a pretty rare commodity, whether in sports, business, the military, or any other arena.

7 points
8
1
LeotisHarris's picture

May 01, 2024 at 08:46 pm

I always find the mantra of these types of articles interesting. Small market Green Bay, fighting against pervasive moral decay to field teams of men who are not merely talented football players, but men of integrity and high character. With our Midwestern values, we will not tolerate less. God, family and the Green Bay Packers, right? Ask Aaron Jones how much character matters in Green Bay. Character is vital until it isn't, and that's the way it always has been.

Winning covers a multitude of character defects especially if they're alcohol-related because, well, because Wisconsin. Going full Mossy Cade or James Lofton will get you a ticket out of town, as will too much weed or smacking your woman. But, hey, drink a little too much too often, it's all good as long as you catch/throw those TD passes on Sunday. No purple drank, though, that'll draw unwanted attention and upset the Martha Circle at Our Savior's Lutheran. IxNay on the infidelity, too, or at least be discrete. Hands off the TV anchors is a good rule of, um, thumb?

The NFL League Office is morally bankrupt and completely bereft of character. It's a place where profit rules. Must. Grow. The. Business. Safety of and care for human beings comes in very near the bottom in any short or long term decision. There are, after all, an unlimited supply of players. That one's broken? Worry not, we have another right here! Those crippled old-timers? Don't look at them! Here, look, a shiny new slogan in the endzone and on the goal post. See? We salute service *and* will end bullying! God Bless America!

Turn your focus to the list of NFL team owners if you'd like to see a group with less character than The Ginger Hammer et al in NYC. If you can make it past Jerry Jones, David Tepper, or Ziggy Wilf without dry heaving, kudos. But, yeah, hey, those high character guys in Green Bay, now they are truly the salt of the earth. Good people, great players, and vital teammates in a winning culture, until they're no longer useful.

8 points
9
1
Bitternotsour's picture

May 01, 2024 at 09:43 pm

All while Mark Murphy tries to knuckle the city of Green Bay for an even bigger chunk of the profits. Yeah, high character guys. Indeed.

Also, Brett got a lifetime pass from GB. Cheated on his GF/wife mother of his children when she had breast cancer, was addicted to Vicodin, was a wild drunk. Good thing they didn't have cell phones with cameras back then. That little triumvirate of Brett, Chewy and Frank Winters had the beat writers turning their heads the other way. Let's not start on Mr. Immunized.

But sure, I think both Ted and Brian try to draft people that will fit in GB and try to represent the brand.

5 points
6
1
PearlyBakerBest's picture

May 02, 2024 at 04:43 am

Yet, still, we watch.

4 points
4
0
Leatherhead's picture

May 02, 2024 at 12:03 pm

Leotis, the owners and money people in the NFL are not particularly noble. Yes, they do things for charities, and they engage in the virtue signaling you mentioned, but the bottom line is the bottom line, and for a corporation,that means you must grow and profit .

I actually think NFL football players have more safety than a comparable member of the public. Certainly more than police officers, or school teachers. How about a 24 year-old learning how to fly an A10 Warthog, or working as an intel officer for JSOC in some foreign shithole? And yet, every year, millions of young people seek out those situations.

Players get hurt in football. The owners, without being noble or anything, understand it's bad business to have stars unable to play, and they've done a ton of things over the years to reduce injuries. I couldn't play under the rules of today......no clotheslines or head slaps, no hitting low, no contact with the head....lots of changes in the rules. We started protecting the QB a little better and then one thing led to another and now you can get flagged for tackling somebody too hard.

They have better medical facilities at their worksites. They have strength and conditioning coaches. They have nutritionists. They have concussion protocols.

I think if you add it up, they're better off, safety wise, than people who have dangerous jobs in general.

These are young guys who've chosen to take the risk, and broken bones heal. They still have the rest of their lives. If you can make somebody's practice squad as a 22 year old college grad, you can make $12K per week for 18 weeks.....more than most college grads will make in a couple of years.

IMO, you could reduce injuries by stopping returns. You could improve the helmet, too. And you can penalize tacklers who launch themselves when they tackle.

I agree that the owners are posturing phonies, but they do care about player safety because it does affect the bottom line, and pro football players are better protected on the job than quite a few other occupations.

2 points
4
2
mnbadger's picture

May 02, 2024 at 12:28 pm

Leotis, you forgot to add rob - $50 hand job from a teenage sex slave - kraft to your list of characterly challenged owners.
That little "error in judgement" as it's been called is one of the most disgraceful acts the nfl has ever turned their eyes away from.
I refuse to let it get forgotten.
the guy's not just an arrogant prick but also socially, morally and every other way character wise - bankrupt.
I agree with the past president on this point - justice isn't administered evenly.
Special people have their own special rules.
Now, off the soap box and back to my lunch.
If I can get it down.
GPG!

4 points
4
0
Gee's picture

May 02, 2024 at 09:35 pm

"Fighting against pervasive moral decay", you made my day. I had to stop reading for a sec... Well played

1 points
1
0
EricTorkelson's picture

May 02, 2024 at 06:54 am

Many interesting comments and insights by our posters .... Yet

STILL WE WATCH...

3 points
3
0
LambeauPlain's picture

May 02, 2024 at 06:56 am

Character is what you do when no one is watching. High character creates trust. It foreshadows good decision making. It is a necessary ingredient for leadership.

The Packers are drawn to prospects with a thick resume of consistent college production, who are good athletes, and possess high character

These three are linked and increase the odds of getting a solid ROI in the costly investments in players. If any of these three are lacking, the player is probably unlikely to be a Packer.

And, the more of these men you have in your locker room, the greater the collective character of the team. And when a character "issue" surfaces, the greater likelihood the players themselves get it resolved.

Recruiting players with solid character is just good business.

2 points
2
0
Boneman's picture

May 02, 2024 at 07:22 am

Actual teambuilding is a highly undervalued aspect in the NFL. Too often and with too many people the 'talent' aspect that people put on players rules out. If 'talent' was the most important thing with winning then the perennial losers in the NFL, (Bears, Jets, Raiders, Browns) would be the best teams, but they're not. Why? It's because the intangibles matter. Things like character, work ethic, attitude and intelligence matter. Why do the Packers and Steelers win every year? They always draft at the end of drafts, they always pick players that 'surprises' everybody in the Draft Industrial Complex. They care about Teambuilding. The difference between players talent in the NFL is pretty miniscule. What separates players is those intangibles.
I was an HR Executive for many years and have hired hundreds of technical and leadership, as well as thousands of entry level employees. I can tell you that the most important thing you look for is hints about character. Your resume gets you in the door but your character gets you hired and paid. I would rather hire someone with the attitude to continuously improve than someone who has all the boxes checked on their resume. The Packers have their thresholds which gets players in the door, but to get drafted they need to show those intangibles. It's a strategy that works in business and clearly works in the NFL.

3 points
4
1
PatrickGB's picture

May 02, 2024 at 08:06 am

“God, family and the Green Bay Packers “

1 points
4
3
HarryHodag's picture

May 02, 2024 at 08:23 am

All one has to remember in Green Bay is the James Lofton-Mossy Cade trials to remember what can happen when personal actions run the team even more off the tracks.

The Packers have long memories. We had an ultra-talented player at a key position recently and when that person's antics were removed from the team the Packers had a remarkable season.

3 points
4
1
Packers0808's picture

May 02, 2024 at 08:49 am

I taught High School for many years and what a person in the future would be like many times manifested on very early to what to expect them to be like. Many did not disappoint either on the bad or good. By far fortunately turned out to be great people, leaders and parents. Happy to say the vast vast majority of those people were great, like most Packers are and have been. There are always those........................

2 points
2
0
BuckyBadger's picture

May 04, 2024 at 12:28 am

"When it's third and ten, you can take the milk drinkers and I'll take the whiskey drinkers every time."

1 points
1
0