If the hot mess streaming out of the Jets’ locker room has taught us anything in the past day is that it sure pays for the Green Bay Packers to be a drama-free team. Who ever thought in this day and age that a back up linebacker would ever put a starting quarterback on the injury list for 10 weeks?
The steaming pile that is the New York Jets and the equally walking disaster that is Geno Smith aside, what does that say about the state of the room? Sure, there will be training camp fights, but they usually amount to a bunch of shoving, perhaps a swing to a helmeted head and ultimately a lot of jawing back and forth. But what happened in New York, as CBS’s Pete Prisco put it, it was assault, plain and simple.
Yes, Geno Smith was likely being a toolbox wagging his finger in IK Enempkali’s. And sure, he likely owed him the cost of a $600 airfare after not showing at IK’s football camp. It’s the recipe for getting the reputation of being an utter jackass. But when did it become okay to sucker punch your moneymaker? Because usually, when you’re starting quarterback is out for any length of time, your team is looking at a pretty good chance at getting a good first round draft pick the following spring.
Smith’s injury and subsequent long road to recover really encapsulates what is wrong with a toxic locker room environment. One does not have to like his quarterback–and I’m certain there are some in the locker room in Green Bay that don’t like Aaron Rodgers on some level–but you sure as heck better respect him. The team is going nowhere without a quarterback. Don’t expect a string of wins with a backup thrown into the limelight.
Rodgers summed it up rather well yesterday when he said, “The thing that Mike’s always stressed, which I think is very important, is it’s a professional environment; it’s not a personal environment. So when you get back in the locker room, that’s where you’re a team again. Being a professional is about leaving stuff on the field and not bringing it in the locker room. Leadership helps with that, but also I think it comes from the top. It’s a mindset that you leave the stuff on the field. You don’t bring it back in the locker room.”
In other words, when you are at work, do not be getting in a teammate’s face when you’re your trying to work.
So is Rodgers placing some of the blame on Smith? It appears to be the case. A leader shouldn’t take the bait in a fight and should be the bigger man. He should walk away. That’s what leaders do.
Yet there is something messed up when a team starts beating each other up in the locker room. That type of team has no expectations to ever gel as one or be successful.
Meanwhile the Packers have worked hard to be the antithesis of the dysfunction in New York. Trust is built through respect. Mike McCarthy has always held the bar high with expectations. While he said this in context to the atypical rash of suspensions for off-season conduct, McCarthy has zero tolerance for behavior detrimental to the team.
When addressing the offseason behavior and subsequent sanctions, he said the following two weeks ago, “The message of the brand of the Green Bay Packers is never revisited. It’s constant. It hits the players, it hits every employee as soon as you walk through the door. It’s part of every meeting, particularly whether it’s at the beginning of the offseason program, at the beginning of a rookie orientation camp, at the beginning of training camp. It will happen again (Wednesday) like it always has, and then it’s reinforced throughout.
“I think it’s loud and clear in our locker room, particularly where the three circumstances we’re talking about. Clearly, everybody understands their role and their responsibility of playing in Green Bay.”
The Green Bay Packers aren’t looking for choir boys, but they a certainly looking for Packers People. Players that suit up in the green and gold are held to a high standard in Green Bay. You are just one of the greater whole. You are a cog that keeps the wheel moving. You represent the brand that is Green Bay.
And any deviation from that really will not be tolerated.
It’s refreshing that Enempkali was shown the door in New York within the hour. But how sad is it that he was picked up on waivers within 24 hours. (Oh, Rex, what would we do without your nonstop trainwreck of entertainment?)
Yet one thing is certain. There is no question in my mind that Packers scouts didn’t even bother to prepare a file for IK Enempkali.
So while the Jets are trying to recover from a complete meltdown and lack of a starting QB, the Bills will be bringing a hot-headed liability into their locker room.
Meanwhile it is business as usual at 1265 Lombardi. The coaches don’t have to play referee and the team doesn’t have to worry that a starter will be sidelined indefinitely because of a territorial pissing match. The team won’t falling apart over 600 bucks.
Perhaps there is a reason why some teams consistently make the playoffs, and others are scouting out top ten draft picks.