GREEN BAY - Geronimo Allison strolled past a gathering tour group at the base of the giant Lombardi Trophy, then took an escalator up a floor and walked into the sunlight of the empty atrium inside Lambeau Field.
He first looked up at the banners of Packers legends hanging above him, and then settled into a seat a deep post route away from the entrance to the club’s Hall of Fame. He rubbed his hands together.
“Honestly, I’m not done here,” Allison said. “Like I’ve been successful in my years that I’ve been here, but I haven’t left my mark yet. That’s what I’m striving for, to leave my mark here, to try and have those careers like Randall (Cobb), like Jordy (Nelson), like Davante (Adams) is having. Those are going to be players and guys that people are gonna remember for a lifetime, great Packers.”
To have the opportunity to get there, Allison had go through a long rehabilitation process so he could even take the steps to return to the organization to which he is so deeply committed.
Allison had his 2018 season end on the practice turf outside the Don Hutson Center, his mind telling him to keep running for a deep ball from Aaron Rodgers but his body failing him. His left leg wouldn’t swing forward and he crumpled to the ground. As Allison tried to tell the training staff what happened he had one way to describe it: “It really felt like my testicles twisted. That was the excruciating pain I had gotten from it.”
Allison got up but couldn’t walk. Magnetic resonance imaging showed the adductor muscle had torn off his pelvis. A season in which he was on pace for more than 70 catches and 1,000 yards ended in a blink.
As he began his recovery on the sidelines, a process that began with just learning how to stand up on his own again, a lot changed around him.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown contributed as rookies. Cobb’s career wound down in fits and spurts due to his own injuries. Head coach Mike McCarthy was fired and interim head coach Joe Philbin was not retained.
It’s something that could create uncertainty for an injured player such as Allison, but although new head coach Matt LaFleur is installing a new offense, he has spoken glowingly of the wide receiver room. And he feels that Allison, at 6 feet, 3 inches and 203 pounds, brings diversity to his offense.
“There’s a lot of versatility within our receiving corps that we have already,” LaFleur said. “And then getting Geronimo back from injury, how he responds is going to be critical because he’s another guy that has a lot of flexibility to play inside or outside.”
Allison nodded at that assessment.
He credited McCarthy for molding him into a well-rounded route runner by making him learn every position on the field in his rookie season and learn an NFL offense spatially. And while Allison has not gotten his hands on the playbook or spoken to the coaches about the offense — he will Monday when offseason program begins — Allison is well aware of how he can be used.
“The best receivers that thrive in Matt’s offense are the most versatile of receivers, the ones that can go inside, outside and be moved around in different formations and not kind of be a stalemated receiver,” Allison said. “When you’re a stalemated receiver you limit yourself.”
The new offense and what he can do within it is partially why as a restricted free agent this offseason, Allison wanted to remain in Green Bay and not even entertain offers from other clubs to leave. He signed a one-year deal that could be worth up to $2.8 million.
Five days after agreeing to return to Green Bay, Allison saw Cobb depart for Dallas.
It was then a realization struck.
At 25 years old and with just 30 games and eight starts on his resume, Allison was now the second-longest tenured receiver on the team behind Adams. And with the unwavering faith of Rodgers already behind him, Allison knows he is now in a position to help lead — even if he is still growing as a player.
“I thought about it,” he acknowledged. “And it excited for me for the opportunity and the trust that they put in me to feel confident in letting Cobb go and re-signing me, knowing that they have Davante and Geronimo as the two vets in the room right now.”
And it now sets him up to start working on that long-term dream of making a lasting impact in Green Bay like his contemporaries.
“I want to leave that mark here,” Allison said. “And if I’m blessed to leave that mark here, then that’s part of my journey. I want to do everything I can here first.”