December 31st, 2020 was a defining day for the Green Bay Packers and David Bakhtiari. The Packers were the best team in football and ended the season with the best record and the number one seed. This had a lot to do with the revitalization of Aaron Rodgers’ career under Matt LaFleur. But that revitalization could not have happened without the offensive line in front of Rodgers. In particular, Rodgers’ best friend, David Bakhtiari.
When Bakhtiari tore his ACL on that New Year’s Eve day, it quite possibly cost the Packers a Super Bowl. You can’t tell me the Packers lose to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game if Bakhtiari plays. It was a complete franchise-legacy-jeopardizing injury. But, I don’t want to focus on how it affected the Packers. I want to focus on the person. Let’s think about it from David’s perspective.
David Bakhtiari Legacy
Bakhtiari was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. What a steal! Since then, he has earned three Pro Bowls, three Second-team All-Pro, and two First-team All-Pro. For several years he was considered the best left tackle in the NFL. And rightfully so, he was locked down. In his last full season of play, he earned his second First-team All Pro and received a contract rewarding him as the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
All of this, of course, happened prior to the tearing of his ACL. Since then, Bakhtiari missed all of the 2021 season (except for the first half of the last regular-season game of the season). He missed most of the 2022 season, and now will miss all of the 2023 season other than the first game of the season. This has been going on now for three seasons.
So, the question is this, how has this affected his legacy?
Well, I think his Packers legacy has been cemented. He will go down as one of the best offensive linemen in Packers’ history. Bakhtiari will easily be put into the Packers Hall of Fame. No doubt about it! But what about his legacy in the NFL?
That question is a lot harder to answer. I’m biased, so of course I’m going to say he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But, that isn’t necessarily going to be the case. I believe he was on his way. I don’t know if that is the case anymore. This injury has completely derailed that train. But what if he can come back? What if this surgery fixes this lingering issue? Could he still make a push for the Hall of Fame? Could he save his NFL legacy?
Bakhtiari’s Pursuit of Excellence
That answer is a resounding yes!
Even in these past three seasons when he has played, Bakhtiari has performed at a high level! He has been shutdown. So let’s say David Bakhtiari comes back next season. Surgery and rehab were completely successful. I believe Bakhtiari can start right where he left off! This is why he is doing this. Yes, yes, his future after his playing days is a huge reason why Bakhtiari is choosing another surgery. But his competitive spirit and his legacy are other huge reasons.
“This is me just taking control of what I need to do. When I want to look back, do I want to look at the guy who got injured and was like ah, that’s good enough?” Bakhtiari doesn’t want it to end this way. He went on to say that he didn’t want to look back and think of himself as a quitter.
He also wants to win. Bakhtiari wants to win a Super Bowl. “To me, I think the greatest achievement other than the personal financial freedom that this game gives is to win a Super Bowl. So that one, I would love to have. And that does definitely drive me.”
This is why it matters. David Bakhtiari wants to prove to himself that he can do it, that he can be a part of a winning formula. I think he can.
I’m rooting for you, 69! You got this!
(Also, to those guys who just want to release him: There is literally no benefit to doing that. None! Maybe in the offseason, but even then, it is extremely tricky because of the injury. If this problem can be fixed, and it can be, then why wouldn’t you want an All-Pro left tackle on your roster?)
Go Pack Go!——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.