I have never, under any circumstances, wanted the Packers to take a running back with a first round pick. Not even with the display Christian McCaffrey gave on Friday at the combine.
Plus I give two sh!ts who is daddy is (or that he made Darren Sharper his b!tch long before any of the boys behind bars did). So with all the pre-combine talk about Christian McCaffrey, my response was: meh.
But after Friday, I gained a bit of admiration for him.
See, over the years, I’ve convinced myself that if I were just 6 inches taller and a mere 50 pounds (of pure muscle) heavier, I would have made it to the NFL. And if I did, I would have wanted my combine to go like his.
It’s not that he impressed with a 37″ vertical. It’s not that he ran the best 40 of the top running back prospects. It’s not even that he had the second-best 3 cone time ever posted by a running back. No, it’s not how he did that endeared me to him, it’s what he did.
After finishing all the running back drills, he hung around and did all the receiver drills. Then he fielded punts! Even if he didn’t look great doing it (never mind that he actually looked amazing), it says something. It says that he loves playing football, that it’s more than a profession (I know, I know, I’ll get to that).
When I was growing up, all we did was play football. After school, we ran to the park and played football until it was dark. In the summer, we got up and ate breakfast then went to the park and played football until it was dark. In baseball season, we would go to baseball practice, then go to the park and play football until it was dark. In football season, after football practice, we’d go to the park and play more football until it was dark out. Even when it got dark, we would play as long as we could still see the ball silhouetted against a midnight blue sky. Those were the days. Every Friday, your Uncle Rico and I have a beer and talk all about it.
Based on his combine, I want to believe that’s how Christian McCaffrey grew up. I wanted to believe hat there are some rare guys who actually make it to that level that feel the same way about the game as I do. If I ever had the chance to go to the combine (which would have been, uh… a few years ago), I like to think I would have done the same thing: stay out on the field and run every drill I could because I love the game. Heck, I’d go out there right now with my old #ss and run the drills until they turned the lights off.
At his presser, he said he plays with a chip on his shoulder, like he’s always trying to prove himself. That great quality, plus the fact that he seems to genuinely love playing football, combined with his sheer athleticism, almost guarantees a degree of success.
But… then I remembered…
Dude skipped his bowl game (see, I told you I would get to that). How can I reconcile that with the heart on display at the combine? A guy who gives up his last chance to get on national tv and play one last big game with his team? I don’t care if they gave him a standing ovation, they bled with him all year and then he sat out to secure his millions – that’s bunk. How can you say you have a chip on your shoulder and are always trying to prove yourself and then sit out your last game because you want to make sure you can cash in (never mind that they all have seven figure insurance policies in case of injury in situations like that).
I want the Packers to draft all defense (after they re-sign their own offensive free agents) and as much as I want to like Christian McCaffrey based on his combine, I can’t ever forget that he sat down at the end. He left his team hanging. Looking back, the fact that he went all out for combine for personal gain after turning his back on his teammates makes him just seem selfish.
Sure, there are lot of selfish players and, no doubt, many more are going to be sitting out bowl games, but none of them gave me hope and then took it away like Christian McCaffrey. Do you draft a guy to play football when he sits out the biggest football game of his life?
Nuts to that, I want a guy who loves the game! I went out and played with broken bones and torn cartilage and ligament damage and I didn’t get paid jack! I did it because I love playing the game. I want to see guys who love playing the game. For all the late-career nonsense of Brett Favre, you knew he loved playing the game. It was great to watch. Everything about AJ Hawk’s life was football – he loved playing the game. Mike Daniels, my main man, he loves playing this game.
I accept that players see this as a job and don’t necessarily love it. There are guys who want to be an icon and entertainer more than they just love going out and playing the game of football. But Christian McCaffrey teased me, he made me forget that players – he in particular – really just look at this as a job most of the time. I don’t want a player that will make me constantly worry that he’s going to turn into Gabe Wilkins – doing great, but then sitting out when his team needs him most because he doesn’t want to damage his earnings potential.
At least now I won’t have to worry about the Packers taking him, because he probably won’t be available at 29 after that combine showing.
But I still have to wonder if anyone at the combine enjoys playing the game as much as I did.