Christmas arrives early in Packers' locker room
On the eve of their Christmas reprieve, Josh Sitton and a handful of other Green Bay Packers had a special package waiting for them inside their lockers.
On the same day he was voted to his first Pro Bowl, the seventh-year left guard went home Tuesday night with a brand-new 55-inch Samsung LED Curved TV and an assortment of other gifts compliments of his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
Cornerback Sam Shields was also in the giving mood a few lockers down, dispensing pairs of UGG boots to his fellow defensive backs.
The Packers' offensive linemen, including those on injured reserve and practice squad, were warned in advance to either wait Tuesday night or come back Wednesday morning to receive their Christmas presents from Rodgers, who did the same for backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.
It was an easy choice for Sitton.
"I waited around to see what it was. I'm like a little kid," said Sitton, who's been with the Packers since Rodgers' first year as a starting quarterback in 2008. "It was awesome. He's a hell of a dude, and we've had a hell of a year for each other. He just wanted to thank us. We definitely appreciate it. It's nice to be appreciated. We appreciate being appreciated."
Like Sitton, left tackle David Bakhtiari didn't have to wait until Wednesday morning like many of his teammates. He hinted that he might have helped Rodgers hand out the gifts, which included the TV, Beats headphones and Samsung Galaxy tablets.
"Aaron Claus," Bakhtiari said. "It's a great gift. Words can't express my gratitude towards him."
The Packers reworked their schedule to take off Thursday for Christmas. Players were free to leave Wednesday afternoon with many players were helping each other transport the TVs to their automobiles.
Reserve lineman JC Tretter said he hugged Rodgers when he found out about the present. Center Corey Linsley said he plans to ship his back home to Ohio.
Rodgers has been sacked only 28 times this season, putting him on pace for his fewest in his seven years as a starting quarterback.
"Pretty thankful that Aaron did something like that," Linsley said. "It doesn't matter what the guy's APY or whatever. I mean that's still awesome, kind of gift that he would give, and that he would think of us. It's just awesome, I'm very thankful."
The act of goodwill offered a breather from the team's preparation for most important game of their season this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. A few players suggested Rodgers probably would've liked to keep the gesture private.
"He probably didn't want anybody to know about it. That's him," Sitton said. "I wasn't planning on telling anyone. He doesn't like the spotlight to put his personal stuff out there. That's something personal between us. I'm sure he doesn't love it."
Meanwhile, the defensive backs were also enjoying their gift boxes from Shields.
"I wish I would've known I was getting them for Christmas – I wouldn't have gone a couple weeks ago and got them," defensive back Micah Hyde joked. "Now I have two pairs. One here, one at the house and go from there."