Quay Walker apologizes to Lions trainer and Packers organization after penalty, ejection

Kassidy Hill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY − In the space of a breath, Quay Walker realized several things: he’d just messed up, again; he’d set himself up for punishment, again; and he’d firmly entrenched what he believes is a distorted view of his attitude in the minds of millions of football fans. 

“To be honest, the split second after I did it,” he said, “I asked myself, why did I just do that? Cause as soon as it happened, I was like, ‘man going through this again.’”

Walker was ejected during the fourth quarter of the Green Bay Packers 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The loss kept the Packers out of the playoffs and the ejection gave the rookie linebacker his second of the season. 

It came in the fourth quarter with Green Bay leading 16-13 and just less than 8 minutes to play. Detroit quarterback Jared Goff threw a short pass to D’Andre Swift for a 2-yard gain. Swift was injured on the play and a Lions athletic trainer jogged on to the field to check on the running back. 

Walker, who played college football with Swift at Georgia, said he went over to check on his friend. 

“I was checking on him,” Walker said Monday. “I played with him two or three years and I was talking to him. But that’s the trainer's job. I need to get out of the way, let him do his job.” 

Green Bay Packers linebacker Quay Walker heads to the locker room after being ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the fourth quarter Sunday.

When the trainer moved Walker out of the way, Walker retaliated, pushing the trainer. It’s the second time this season Walker has been ejected for touching a non-player. The first game in Week 8 at Buffalo, where the rookie shoved a Bills practice squad player on the sideline. 

On Monday, as teammates around him cleaned out their things before heading home for the offseason, a red-eyed Walker stood in front of his locker and issued the second apology of his young NFL career. 

"I done prayed about it a whole lot,” Walker said. “For people that don’t know me, I done did the same thing twice so I put out this image I don’t want of myself. I done did it. So I have to live with it. I just gotta work on controlling my emotions. It just a thought I had, I’m like everybody else, I make mistakes, just happened to be one I made twice. Just gotta learn from it. Just like everybody else, I just happen to put a helmet on and play football. But just (something) I have to work on.

“Once again I just pray (people) forgive me. I’m human like everybody else and I have to face everything that I did last night and live with it.”

That began this morning, when Walker called the Lions athletic trainer to apologize personally. 

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“I reached out to the trainer earlier today,” Walker said. “I talked to him for a long time. Just continued to apologize and pray he forgive me. Also I told him to reach out to the team if he can and the other trainers as well on my behalf and say I’m sorry. 

“Really nothing I can do, to be honest with you, 'cause I made a mistake. I did what I did and I own up to that. Just something I gotta live with. Just a mistake I made and pray they forgive me.”

Coach Matt LaFleur didn’t make any excuses for his first-round draft pick following the game. 

“That is unacceptable,” LaFleur said Sunday. “I mean, we’ve had a guy (Walker) get ejected twice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in my career. We’ve got to be much more mentally tough. 

“Any time our guys commit personal fouls, I take that very personally. Because I think that’s always a reflection of myself and the standards that we set for these players. We’ve got to be better, and we’ve got to learn from that because that is unacceptable.”

On Monday morning, Walker met with his coaches to talk about the ejection.

“I met with them and I apologized to them as well 'cause that reflects on them. It always come back to the head coach,” Walker said. “This is a problem I never had but I done done it twice this year. Something I can never do and I understand that. But I apologized to them and, of course, got the correct words from him, what I need to do moving forward in that situation.”

LaFleur expounded on his expectations for Walker following the ejection, speaking with media Monday evening. He still admonished the action, but stood behind his player.

"I'll never defend the action, but I'll defend the person," LaFleur said. "And I think Quay has gotten, he feels terrible about it, rightfully so. I don't think Quay is a malicious person. I think he has got to find a way to better channel his emotions in the heat of the battle, because certainly it's gotten the better of him twice now. And he's well aware of that.

"I do think that you can never right that act. But as best you can, No. 1 he owned it. He's faced it. I know he put out the statement, I know he reached out to the person. I think that takes a lot of humility to do that. And not everybody's willing to do that. So I think that says a lot about the character of Quay Walker. We've got a very young player on our hands and he knows he's got some growing up to do."

Rookie defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, who was a teammate at Georgia with Walker and Swift, was also caught in the incident, throwing his chest into the trainer after the latter turned back to Walker. Wyatt wasn't flagged, but coaches noticed the altercation after the fact and addressed it when addressing Walker.

Walker has been a starter his entire rookie season. The linebacker finished with 121 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and seven passes defended. He’s been a force for the Packers, despite the mistakes. But now he heads into the offseason knowing he has to prepare for his second year with a self-induced cloud over his head. 

"I’m just grateful,” Walker said. "I was always desperate to be where I’m at now. Just always gotta take the good with the bad and just try to outweigh them. Just try to look at everything in a positive way. 

“That’s pretty much what I’m trying to look at, look at the positives as well. But I’m not gonna overlook what I did 'cause I know I was wrong. But once again, I just pray everybody forgive me … I don’t want nobody to feel sorry for me for what I did. Wrong is wrong, right is right and I was wrong in that situation.”

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