Given his accomplishments through just three years in the NFL, the statement borders on the ridiculous, but it’s that singular mind-set that’s brought Cobb this far.
As a rookie in 2011, Cobb seemed to be a luxury pick on a Green Bay team loaded at receiver. A quadruple-threat with the ball in his hands at the University of Kentucky, Cobb caught, ran, passed and returned his way into the SEC record books. Upon arriving in Green Bay, he made an immediate impact in the return game, starting the season with a NFL record-tying 108-yard kickoff return that won NFL Play of the Year at the ESPYs. The following season his role expanded in the offense and, suddenly, he was tearing up pro defenses the way he did in college, racking up a franchise-record 2,432 total yards. Receiver. Runner. Returner. His imprint, and impact, on the team was widespread.
Cobb was poised for a breakout season in 2013 — with the promise and potential of a 100-catch season as a starting receiver, Pro Bowl nominations, and a deep postseason run. Instead, he got a very different kind of break.
In Week 6 at Baltimore, Cobb caught an Aaron Rodgers pass on third-and-long and was turning to run when he was hit in the knee by safety Matt Elam. If the hit occurred just a millisecond later, when Cobb’s leg had been planted, his knee surely would’ve been torn apart. As it was, he clutched his knee and writhed on the ground in pain. But the result was only a mild consolation. Cobb’s right tibia — the larger, weight-bearing lower leg bone — was fractured, and he’d spend the next 10 weeks trying to work his way back.
“I really thought in the moment that I got hit that my career was over. I thought I was done. Once the doctor came over and checked it and realized that my ACL and everything was fine, it was a blessing. I had no ligament damage; it was all bone, so once my bone healed up I was good to go.”
But getting back on the field would be as trying mentally as it was physically.
“One of the mistakes I made was pushing everybody in my life out and taking it all on by myself,” Cobb said. “I was definitely in a dark place for a while. You know, living here in Green Bay by myself, going to treatment, coming back home, and sitting in the dark by myself. It was a depressing place. I think the biggest thing was just not having the game in my life anymore. I pretty much live and breathe by football and always have, so taking the biggest thing out of my life and being on my own and not really knowing what to do with myself… it was a tough spot for me.”
Cobb did work himself out of his funk and back onto the field. And his return couldn’t have been more dramatic. In the final minute of the regular season finale at Chicago — with a division crown and playoff berth for both teams on the line — Cobb made the play of the year for Green Bay. On a busted, fourth-down play, he adjusted his route, and ran by safety Chris Conte. Waving his arm through the air, Cobb hauled in a deep pass from Aaron Rodgers — making his own return to the field after missing nearly two months with a broken collarbone — for a 48-yard touchdown that propelled Green Bay into the postseason, and sent their rival to the couch.
With the 2014 season about to get under way, and last year’s finish still fresh in his mind, the fourth-year receiver has big expectations for his team and himself.
“I can tell you that I prepared this offseason to be the best Randall Cobb that I can be,” said Cobb, whose offseason routine focused on his core, and included band and hip work. “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to getting back on track to where I felt I was heading last year. Why not me? Why can’t I be that guy? I think that’s been my motto all offseason and I’m just ready to get out there and prove myself.”
Go deep with Randall on his Under Armour gear, how he prepares to be the best, and see him cut loose behind the scenes in a series of Eastbay videos. Also, read how Green Bay’s Swiss Army knife is cutting out his place in history.