Brandon Jackson stood at the corner of the Packers locker room, a couple feet from his own area and at the end of the hallway that exits the facility.
His location alone spoke volumes about the situation.
The Packers running back just finished his last season under contract as a Super Bowl champion, but may never walk into that locker room again. And you that’s the only home he’s ever known as a professional after being drafted in the second round in 2007.
Jackson was one of the most emotional players Sunday and insisted trainer Red Batty refrain from washing his game jersey.
The team, and Jackson, received their jerseys Tuesday after the Return to Titletown celebration at Lambeau Field. Jackson answered questions afterward with an undecided future.
He nearly broke into tears as he described what that jersey meant to him.
“That’s four hard years of dedication,” Jackson said. “Blood, sweat, tears, adversity, that goes into that 32. The history of the organization goes into that 32. My family, the love and support goes into that 32. My faith in Christ goes into that 32. There’s a lot of history, there’s a lot of accolades, there’s a lot of things goes into that 32 that’s on that jersey.
“That jersey will not be washed. It’ll be hung up, framed with the rest of my jerseys that I have from college and high school. That 32 is very special to me. It’s been … I don’t know. It’s emotional when I talk about it because I’ve been through a lot here. The road is tough. To bring home the Lombardi Trophy and to have that patch on the side of my shoulder is amazing.”
Jackson didn’t have any idea how things would eventually work out. He’s appreciative of his time here and wants to come back.
At the same time, Jackson, like any competitor, would like a more extensive role in an offense beyond the third-down back and being an outstanding pass-blocker.
Jackson became the No. 1 back in 2010 when Ryan Grant was injured in the season-opener, but lost the job to rookie James Starks in the final stretch of the season.
“That was always No. 1 when I came in — just getting a fair chance, a fair opportunity to help lead this team,” Jackson said. I feel like I’m a great leader.
“But it’s not really up to me. If the Packers want me. They got me. … If it’s here I’m on board. If it’s somewhere else, hey, I’ve got to go take care of my family.”
Jackson’s wife Brandy is scheduled to give birth in March. Jackson said for now, he’s going to enjoy his time with the family and as a world champion.
“I’ve got to go back to my husband duties,” Jackson said. “Taking out the trash. Taking my son to school. Taking my daughter to school and making sure my wife is getting healthy.
“I’m a family man and right now I’m going to go home and love my wife and kids.”
Jackson eventually turned that corner and walked out of Lambeau Field on Tuesday. There’s no guarantee that he’ll return.
“When I walk out this door, what I’m going to remember is the love that this organization gave me,” Jackson said. “Drafted me in the second round, taking a chance on me. Me giving my all to this team. I feel like I’m the ultimate team player. You’ll never hear a peep out of me. I’m always doing my job. That’s what it takes to win this. That’s what we did Sunday.
“When I walk out of here, it’s going to be full of joy. Full of tears. Full of exciting memories. Full of various memories. Nothing can take that away. There’s a lot of love that goes into this organization when I walk out this locker room.”
Daryn Colledge is without a contract for next season, there could be a lockout if no collective bargaining agreement is reached by March 3, his wife is expecting their first child this summer and he’s headed to the Persian Gulf on Friday.
Sounds like a stressful offseason.
But the Packers’ starting left guard says it’s just the opposite.
“I get to have a relaxing offseason,” Colledge said. “Everything is out of my control.”
Colledge had perhaps the best season of his five-year NFL career but has not heard anything from the Packers in the way of a contract offer. When there’s a new CBA, he will be a free agent.
“I did what I came here to do — play 16 games at left guard, got an extra four in the playoffs and won a world championship,” Colledge said. “So I don’t have a lot to think about. I played well enough this year that I’m going to have an opportunity next year. Whether it’s with the Packers or somebody else, that’s totally up to them.”
If he has played his last game for the Packers, he does have at least one more team function. Colledge is part of a group from the Packers that will take a Navy MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) trip to spend about 10 days with troops in the Persian Gulf. Others on the trip include Jarrett Bush, Derrick Martin, Nick McDonald, Frank Zombo and former player William Henderson plus assistant equipment manager Tom Bakken and head trainer Pepper Burruss.
“I’m going to hang out with the troops for 10 days, and then I’m going to come back here and work out until they lock us out, or if we get locked out,” Colledge said.
Barnett to have pin removed this week
Linebacker Nick Barnett will get the pin removed from his broken wrist on Thursday, and after a few days of rest will get back to training for the 2011 season. The question is whether he’ll be with the Packers or another team.
The Packers have four inside linebackers making starter-type salaries: Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop and Brandon Chillar. They likely are willing to keep three of them at that pay level, but it’s unlikely they’ll keep all four at that cost when only two are the field at a time.
They committed to Bishop by signing him to a contract extension in December. Chillar’s salary and roster bonus are for 2011 are $2.3 million, which is the lowest of the group by far. So it appears likely either Barnett ($5.9 million salary and roster bonus) or Hawk won’t be back — Hawk would have to sign a new contract, because he’s due to make $10 million this year.
“That’s going to be (the Packers’) decision,” Barnett said. “For me, I’m under contract for two more years, that’s how I’m going to look at it. I’m going to perform and compete like I always compete, show up for camp and try to be the best (linebacker) I can.”
Barnett said he and coach Mike McCarthy didn’t have a formal meeting but did speak about his lament on Twitter two weeks ago that he and other players on injured reserve were going to be left out of the team picture at the Super Bowl in Dallas. Barnett later in the week used Twitter to answer quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ implied criticism that injured players who didn’t rehabilitate with the team in Green Bay shouldn’t expect to be in the photo.
“They knew I was sad,” Barnett said. “Coach said to me, ‘I know how hard this has been for you,’ — you have no idea. But I don’t think I said anything that was out of line.”
Barnett said he felt like his teammates weren’t upset with his reaction.
“When I got there in Dallas, they were like, we would feel the same way,” he said. “It’s just that — (the Packers) didn’t know, they didn’t do it on purpose, (the photo) just was scheduled different. So we were glad we were able to get the whole team, because we are a team in this locker room. You go around and ask all the other guys, they’ll say the same thing, they wanted us (players on IR), everybody wants to be in the photo. It’s in the past, we’re in the photo, it’s going to be in there (in the team meeting room), it’s going to be hung up.
“We won the Super Bowl, there’s nothing else to talk about with photos and pictures. Now we’re talking about ring sizes.”
Packers fullback John Kuh finished the Super Bowl without the “G” on the left side of his helmet. He was asked if it was done purposely?
“You know what, it fell off during the game, It popped off once during the game, I’m not sure when it happened,” Kuhn said.