No matter who has been the captain, the Green Bay Packers have always run a pretty tight ship. In my own 30+ years of fandom, I have never seen a Packers player get too out of line. While the rest of the league has their fair share of disgruntled players causing headlines or players misbehaving leading to a scandal, the Packers have steered pretty clear of that drama. Some of the reasons being either they avoid players that may have these issues, they get their point across to their players that they have zero tolerance, or they make an example of players that do slightly cross the line, so they get their point across. The latest sacrificial lamb of their zero-tolerance policy is now Jaire Alexander.
If you have been actively avoiding Packer’s news for the last week, you may not be aware that cornerback Jaire Alexander was suspended one game for “conduct detrimental to the team.” So, what the heck does that mean? A basic definition of that description could be that their actions outside the field could have been harmful to the success of the team.
So, what did he do?
This past Sunday, the Packers played the Carolina Panthers whose stadium is based in Charlotte. Alexander, who’s originally from Charlotte, wanted to be on the field for the coin toss. So, even without being a team captain, he just went on out there. Surely that’s where it ended right? He just stood as an honorary captain and let the chosen captains do the work right? Wrong.
Alexander made the call, choosing tails and the Packers won the toss. Instead of saying the Packers chose to defer, Alexander had said he “wanted our defense to be out there.” Normally this could be received as that he was choosing to kick. But, apparently Matt LaFleur had already told the referee what he chose if the Packers won the toss. So, instead of kicking and Carolina being able to choose to receive again after halftime, the referee knew the Packers wanted to defer to the second half.
But regardless of whether there was direct impact or not, disciplinary action had to be taken.
Sending a message
If there’s one thing for sure, this suspension has horrendous timing. In the game that Jaire Alexander is to be suspended during, the Packers are set to face Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota Vikings. Jefferson has two huge games vs the Packers in the last two seasons. One game where he had 8 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns, and another where he had 9 catches for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns. The last time Jefferson faced the Packers however, he only had 1 catch on 5 targets for 15 yards. What’s the difference you ask? Only one of those games was Jefferson mainly covered by Alexander, and that was the 1 catch game.
So, why would the Packers put themselves in this situation when they need this win to keep their playoff hopes alive?
It’s simple really, to send a message. The Green Bay Packers have the second youngest team in the league. Almost 50% of the roster is only in their second year in the league or lower. Many of them figure to be with the team at least another 2-3 seasons. So, what can’t Matt LaFleur afford to do? Let these young guys think they can do whatever they want, without consequences.
Suspending Jaire Alexander, an All-Pro, one of the best on the roster, during a crucial run, shows the very low level of tolerance for this type of “rogue” behavior. Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur are showing that they’re going to hold a level of accountability over their players regardless of their standing and suspend whenever they need to.
Showing players this will insure they understand where the coaches stand on the subject. Whether Jaire chooses to accept the consequences and move on will remain to be seen. But we can only hope it will help strengthen his resolution and bring him better things in the future.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.