Fullback feels like a 'fool'

Rookie fullback Najeh Davenport is sorry for a mistake that he will have to shoulder this season and beyond, but he and the Green Bay Packers are trying to freshen the smelly situation by focusing on football.<p>

"It happened April 1, you know, April Fools' Day," Davenport told the Green Bay media Thursday after he signed and then practiced with other rookies and free agents. "I took some jokes back home."

A foolish act indeed, and now Davenport will have to pay for it. Davenport was charged July 8 on two counts stemming from an invasion of a college dormitory room in early April. Davenport allegedly broke into the room of a female student April 1 and defecated in a laundry basket in a closet. His arrest is still under investigation.

His act probably affected the bottom line of his contract with the Packers and already has cast doubts about his character with Packers fans. He knows it and immediately issued a public apology after practice Thursday.

"I want to apologize for being involved in the incident that happened back in Miami," Davenport said, "and to Green Bay, the coaches, players and fans, because it was an embarrassment to me, and obviously it was embarrassing to the Green Bay organization."

The Packers' fourth-round draft pick signed on a multi-year contract Thursday before practice. Terms were not revealed, but he may have agreed to a smaller signing bonus than what he could have received, or none at all. A signing bonus is guaranteed money usually paid upfront by the team to the player. Davenport, the 135th overall pick in the draft, would likely command a signing bonus between $200,000 and $225,000. Green Bay was pretty much locked into standard base salaries for Davenport: $225,000 (2002), $300,000 (2003) and $380,000 (2004).

Davenport said he is trying to put the April incident behind him and focus on football. "Before everything happened, I had a million and one things on my mind," Davenport said. "Once it happened, it made me really focus on what I really wanted to do, which is play football for the Green Bay Packers. It kind of helped me out."

Prior to Davenport's signing, Packers personal tried to make light of the situation. "We're not going to embarrass him," said Andrew Brandt, Packers vice president of player finance and general counsel, told a Packers shareholder's crowd of about 2,000 on Tuesday. "He's going to get enough embarrassment when he finds a commode in his locker. I think he'll face whatever he needs to face with the team. ... We're not going to punish him. He's going to get a market contract."

Coach and general manager Mike Sherman also laughed it off in his address to shareholders, mainly because "he didn't know what else to say about it," Sherman said. Sherman told the crowd that Davenport's locker will be placed near the rest facilities.

Davenport missed both off-season minicamps because of a foot injury he sustained last December while practicing for the Rose Bowl at the University of Miami. He aggravated it again in an individual workout in January. The Packers said Davenport could have practiced in the minicamps, but they want to be cautious.

"It's early," Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman said. "The test on that foot will be in time and endurance. It didn't seem there was anything holding him back."

Davenport no doubt will be slowed by the incident in Miami for a while. But a solid performance this season in training camp and the regular season could help the situation fade away.

"Obviously this is something that's happened to him that he's going to have to answer a lot of questions through the first part of his career until he gets some separation from it," Sherman said. "Hopefully, that will occur."

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