No winners in messy Walker-Packers divorce

Javon Walker got the trade and money he desired, but he's injured and his new team is just 3-3 while his old team is 5-1.

"Obviously, we have a chance to be a Super Bowl team. Obviously, they have a chance to win four games."

Those words were spoken by none other than former Green Bay Packers receiver Javon Walker, during his first training camp with the Denver Broncos back in August 2006.

For the record, let's talk about records. Heading into Monday's game at Denver, the Broncos are 3-3 while the Packers are 5-1 and in first place. Last year, Denver finished 9-7 compared to 8-8 for Green Bay. I didn't major in math, but as I use my fingers and toes, I think that comes out to a 13-9 record for Green Bay and 12-10 for Denver.

Yo, Javon, considering the teams' records and the relative strength of their respective conferences, which team gives you a better chance to reach the Super Bowl?

Now, I know some of you are giggling that Walker just underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the same knee that Walker injured during the 2005 season opener and indirectly led to the ugly situation that led to his trade during the 2006 draft.

Laughing at another man's misery isn't nice, so don't expect this scribe to gloat. From my times chatting with Walker in the locker room, I found him to be a friendly, intelligent guy. Which made his contract demands, given he had just missed 99 percent of the 2005 season, all the more nonsensical.

With that said, it's hard to restrain that little part of me that says Walker is getting what he deserved.

Too often, pro athletes forget how blessed they are. Most of it is ego. Ego is good, in that it's what drives a very good athlete to become that special someone who's good enough to not only play professionally but excel. But the ugly side of ego is what led to Walker's messy divorce from the Packers.

It's not like Walker had to ring a tin cup outside of Lambeau so he could afford a can of wieners and franks for dinner. The Packers' first-round draft pick in 2002, Walker signed a five-year deal worth $8.7 million.

Walker, of course, had a monster 2004 season, and from there, one of the ugliest episodes in Packers history began to roll. When Walker skipped a May 2005 minicamp, Brett Favre blasted him, which was akin to pouring gasoline on hot embers.

Walker showed up for training camp that summer, but his season quickly ended with a knee injury in the opener against Detroit.

Still, Walker wanted a new contract, an unheard of ploy considering the Packers had no assurances Walker would ever return to his 2004 form. Still seething about Favre's comments, Walker demanded — and finally got — his trade.

Walker had a strong 2006 season, with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns, and has caught 19 passes for 230 yards and no touchdowns in three games this season.

In the end, nobody won, which is typical of such disputes. Without Walker, Favre threw 29 interceptions in 2005 — many of the up-for-grabs variety that Walker so frequently hauled in the year before — and the Packers still lack a playmaker of Walker's caliber. Walker got his wish by getting out of Green Bay and getting his money, but will his right knee ever let him be the budding superstar he was three years ago?

If there's a lesson to be learned from the Walker and Mike McKenzie episodes, it was learned by Ted Thompson, who has taken a proactive approach by giving extensions to the likes of Al Harris and Aaron Kampman.

With a million-dollar smile, Walker could have been the toast of Green Bay for years. Instead, ego and greed got in the way. But, at least you're with a Super Bowl contender, right Javon?

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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