Players will use any slight, perceived or real, for motivation.
So it’s no surprise that former Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said being released sparked his bounce-back season with the Bills.
“It was huge,” Barnett told Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I was disappointed in the fact that I was released, and definitely wanted to go out and show them as well as show myself and anybody else who doubted me that I’m still who I am. I’m still here to play football. I still love to play the game. I’m still going to run to the ball, make plays and have fun. The plays are not always there, but I was blessed to have the type of year I had.
“It was fun as far as the individual stats. I was just out there proving it to myself and proving it to anybody else.”
A wrist injury ended his 2010 prematurely, and the 30-year-old’s dream of finishing his career with the team that drafted him ended when the Packers released him. Landing with the Bills, who needed a replacement for Paul Posluszny, proved a fast fit. Barnett finished with 130 tackles, three interceptions and three sacks, and will be in the middle of what could be an excellent defense this year.
But watching the Packers struggle on defense last season was still bittersweet for him.
“They let a lot of key players go and obviously it was going to be a rough and rebuilding year for defense,” Barnett said. “They let veteran players go who were anchors in there. Everyone knew it was going to be that kind of year where they had to find another Cullen Jenkins, then A.J. [Hawk] got hurt, [Desmond] Bishop got hurt. The guys they put in, they played pretty well, but Clay [Matthews] didn’t find another rusher on the other side, stuff like that.
“I think they have a lot of talent over there. It was just kind of a transition year for their defense. I think they’ll be back and I think they’ll be strong talking to Bishop this offseason.”
Having Barnett might have helped last year, but the real answer to the Packers’ problems will be integrating some younger players.