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!