Posted: Friday March 24, 2006 11:43AM; Updated: Saturday March 25, 2006 1:59AM
Javon Walker missed most of last season with a knee injury.
Submit a comment or question for Nunyo.
Watching Terrell Owens' smile sparkle as much as his diamond-studded earrings during his introductory press conference in Dallas, I couldn't help but think about the anti-T.O.: Packers receiver Javon Walker.
By acting the fool last season after feeling underpaid on a $7 million-per-year deal, Owens forced his way out of Philadelphia. Conversely, the affable and engaging Walker was the good soldier in Green Bay, despite being unhappy about his relatively meager contract. But that was then and this is now.
Still rehabbing from a serious knee injury suffered in the 2005 season opener, Walker, 27, wants out of Green Bay so badly that he's willing to forfeit the prorated portion of his signing bonus (about $850,000). He has even put his home in Green Bay on the market.
"If I had to go back there, I'd rather retire," Walker told ESPN recently. "I just don't feel like this is the best place for me to be right now. I really have no interest in being in a Green Bay Packers uniform or playing for Green Bay again."
It didn't take Owens's press conference -- with its Groundhog Day feel -- for Walker to reach those sentiments. Once Walker tore the ACL in his right knee against the Lions, I had an inkling that he had played his last game in Green Bay.
In 2004, he produced a breakthrough season with 89 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, providing Brett Favre with his best deep threat in several years. Walker was slated to earn base salaries of $515,000 and $650,000 over the final two years of his contract. After the Packers declined to renegotiate his contract, he hired Drew Rosenhaus -- Owens' agent, of course -- and threatened to hold out before the 2005 season.
Walker desired security in an upgraded extension. But general manager Ted Thompson took a hard-line stance, declining a new deal or a trade.
Favre publicly blasted Walker, telling Green Bay newspapers, "If Javon wants to know what his quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I'd tell him he's going about this the wrong way. I sure hope the Packers don't give in to him.... Maybe I'm old school, but I always thought you honor your contract.... We can win without him."
The receiver arrived in camp on time and masked any enmity. But Walker's injury in Week 1 took away a lot of his leverage for a new contract and apparently caused his current mind-set.