Thompson puts neck on the line

Do the Green Bay Packers have anything to lose by signing troubled wide receiver Koren Robinson? Not really, but's Todd Korth explains the risk that Packers general manager Ted Thompson is taking on.

A national radio talk show host chuckled when his partner read the news this morning that the Green Bay Packers have signed Koren Robinson.

‘Koren Robinson goes to the home of beer. Now that makes sense,' he said.

For the record, Milwaukee, about a two-hour drive south of Green Bay, is affectionately known as "Beer City." But there are plenty of bars in Green Bay and a few micro breweries.

That talking head, as well as other so-called football experts from around the country are not giving Robinson much chance of staying out of trouble in Green Bay. With good reason, too. He was caught for drunken driving at his last two stops – Minnesota and Seattle. And those are the times that he was officially caught by police. There is probably a good chance that he was out driving around under the influence and didn't get arrested.

Robinson may be an alcoholic. He did admit that he is seeking treatment for alcohol abuse to help cure his possible disease. He's taken one step in the right direction. Now he's trying to get on with his football career by hooking up with Packers general manager Ted Thompson. The two have known each other since their days in Seattle when Thompson was the Seahawks director of player personnel and Robinson was the team's first-round draft pick in 2001.

Since then, Robinson has had some ups and downs in his NFL career. The wide receiver/kick returner has all kinds of talent, but he has tarnished his image by diving head first into the bottle. He's a legitimate threat on the field, and certainly off of it – when he's drinking and driving.

Robinson told reporters Monday evening that he is not a "bad guy at all," and that he's trying to put his troubles behind him. Hopefully for his and his family's sake, he'll follow through on those words.

Right now, he's covered under the umbrella term of "Packer People." He's good enough to be on the Packers, as long as he doesn't mess up. But isn't that how it goes for most athletes in the National Football League, or for that matter, any other sport. And if Robinson does mess up and test positive for a substance again, then what happens? He won't be a member of the Packers, and won't be in the league – period.

By signing Robinson, the young and playmaker-less Packers have nothing to lose. If he helps the Packers as a kickoff returner or receiver, great. If not, or if he gets in trouble again, the only person it will affect is Thompson.

Thompson has put his reputation on the line big-time by signing Robinson. If the move backfires, Packers fans will be talking about it for a long time. If the move works out, Thompson will get the credit, though, not as much than if it blew up in his face.

Ex-general manager Ron Wolf did the same in 1996 when he signed Andre Rison for the stretch run of the season and playoffs. Rison, at the time, was no choir boy, but Wolf's move worked out. Wolf took on all the risk.

In this case, Thompson is taking on the risk in the face of his reputation as a GM. But it's not a knee-jerk reaction due to Sunday's loss to the Chicago Bears. Thompson has been in conversations with Robinson over the past week. They both have talked quite a bit about this situation. In a way, they are both tied together at the hip. They both feel like they can make it work in Green Bay where it failed in Minnesota and Seattle.

Time will tell. Only God knows what the outcome will be for Robinson.

"I'm all about new beginnings, new starts," Robinson said. "Maybe in Minnesota, God was telling me I'm not supposed to be there. Now I'm here in Green Bay. It's a new chapter in my life, and I'm just trying to stay focused on football and go down the right path."

So far, it appears to be a very good move by Thompson. Hopefully for him and Robinson, it will stay that way.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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