Pettway gets new life, new opportunity

The new defensive end, who replaced Jenkins on the roster, emerged unscathed from a shooting that left a former teammate paralyzed.

Kenny Pettway was in the Green Bay Packers' locker room on Wednesday. It was a welcome respite after a few weeks that can best be described as horrific.

On Aug. 30, Pettway, a third-year pro out of Grambling, was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Early on Sept. 2, Pettway was being the designated driver for former teammate Richard Collier. While parked outside an apartment building, a gunman fired a barrage of shots at the vehicle Pettway was driving. Collier was shot 14 times.

On Sept. 13, Hurricane Ike stormed into Texas. Pettway's home in Houston sustained considerable damage.

On Sept. 29, Collier's doctor announced the offensive tackle is paralyzed below the waist and had his left leg amputated.

So, while a season-ending injury for defensive end Cullen Jenkins is a devastating blow to a reeling Packers defense, Pettway is happy to be putting a couple of scary chapters of his life behind him.

"When the report came out about what his condition is and what he has to live with the rest of his life, I'm just thankful I'm still alive," said Pettway, who escaped the incident unharmed. "I still have a friend. I still can talk to him. It's not the other way around.

"Even though that's a bad thing that came out of it, it's still good that he's alive and he's still functioning. He can use his arms and stuff like that. I'm just thankful for that."

Pettway has been out of the league since his release by the Jaguars. While he swears neither he nor Collier were doing anything wrong that night — no arrests have been made in the case — Pettway wonders if the incident scared other teams away, considering the league's emphasis on player conduct.

After all, Pettway wasn't released because he wasn't productive. To the contrary. He had two sacks in four preseason games this summer and three sacks in 17 career regular-season games. But he was a victim of a numbers game for the Jaguars, who selected two highly touted defensive ends in April's draft.

"They drafted Derrick Harvey (first round, No. 8 overall) and Quentin Groves (second round, No. 52), so they're picking those guys to come in and start, so when they came in and did their job, that's what the outcome was."

After the shooting, Pettway returned to Houston. While out of football, Pettway continued working out. Then, Ike struck. Power finally was restored just before he came to Green Bay on Monday for a workout.

"It's better now cleaned up," he said of his home. "A lot of working and picking up limbs and stuff, but you can't do a lot without power."

Pettway figures to be on the 45-man game-day roster and at least play special teams when the Packers host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Jenkins was a one-man gang with his run-stopping and pass-rushing talents, so the Packers will replace him with a number of bodies. The 245-pound Pettway will try to add to the pass rush as well as play on special teams, something he says he "takes a lot of pride" in.

"Hopefully, I can come in and add both of those things to the team," he said.

As for the incident that left mental if not physical scars, Pettway says he's doing better, and playing football will help keep his mind active on something new.

"After it happened for the first week, it was rocky for me and I had to go throught a lot of things," Pettway said. "But it got better, and I had family and friends around me, and Rich's family was around me and people supported me and talked to me about it."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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