I sure am glad social media wasn’t around when my dad, Ron Kostelnik, was drafted to play for the Green Bay Packers.
Bar stool coaches would have bellowed mightily about a team blowing its second round pick (which, back then, was the 26th pick overall) on a guy with a suspect knee from the University of Cincinnati, a school known far more for its basketball program than football.
At 20-years old, my dad had only played in 20 college games by the time he graduated and, I imagine, had cameras been on the good folks at Stadium View Bar during the 1960 draft they would have said, “Who?” when the Packers announced that pick, and then they might have said a few more unpleasant things about a shy guy from Colver, Pennsylvania.
Years later, when my dad’s high school retired his jersey number, Central Cambria County assistant athletic director Stephen Gironda said, “Everyone knows Colver kids are tough as nails.”
But social media pundits would not have known that and nobody, except maybe Coach Lombardi and Defense Coordinator Phil Bengston, would have expected such an unknown player to carve out a nine-year NFL career and land in the Packer Hall of Fame.
I thought about all that as I scrolled through the reaction to the Packers first round pick, Rashan Gary, a 21-year old outside linebacker from Plainfield, New Jersey.
“He’s not very bright,” they said (and I’m choosing the kindest remarks), though Gary, who reportedly is dyslexic and scored very low on the Wunderlic test, was a two-time Academic All American.
“He has a bad shoulder,” they said, though Gary bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times, among his other extremely impressive NFL combine stats.
“His game stats aren’t very impressive,” they said. While this may be true at first glance, I like the idea that he’s a versatile team player and often draws double and triple-team coverage.
It seems to me the best predictor of how well a player does in the NFL is…how well the player does in the NFL. It’s nearly impossible to say with certainty which players will excel until they suit up, hit the field and execute.
In the meantime, though, I say we give Rashan Gary a chance because everyone knows kids from Plainfield, New Jersey are tough as nails.
Welcome to Titletown, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Elgton Jenkins, Jace Sternberger, Kingsley Keke, Ka’dar Hollman, Dexter Williams and Ty Summers.
Go Pack Go!
6 thoughts on “Give ’em a chance!”
My walk to school at Roosevelt Jr. High in Appleton went right past your dad’s house. It didn’t need to, but I needed it to. We visited often when he was in the yard. A kind, warm and generous guy. Pure Lombardi Packer in every respect.
I love this! Thanks for sharing.
My favorite draft pick will always be the 2000 draft #199, next to last round. You just never know….
The one I find questionable is Dexter Williams. Can he stay out of trouble? I had him a better fit for the Cowboys felons.
Embarrassed to say I had to Google that. Probably the best 199th pick of all time.
Thanks for sharing…. i stumbled upon your site while reading your tribute to Bart Starr.
Your Dad was a great guy and I really enjoyed how humble he was and how nice he was to all the kids who came through your house and your lives. He was a great man and very thoughtful. So glad that the Packers and Lombardi saw in him the talent and drive, he was an integral piece. RIP Ron. RIP Bart. and to the many packers from that era that are passing. Legends in Wisconsin. Legends in the NFL.
Thanks Bob. I’m glad you found the blog and I’m really glad you have such nice memories of my dad. #gopackgo