Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Robinson Signing Gets Bad-Rapped Except by Most Fans

Monday's signing of troubled Pro Bowler Koren Robinson by the Packers seems to be generating criticism among sports pundits. Today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article by Tom Silverstein cites Fox commentator and former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson's comments from Fox's website, "This Green Bay team looks terrible. Why sign a problem when you're a bad as the Packers? Sign a risk when you have a chance to get to the next level. You mean they want to sign Koren Robinson so they can win six games instead of four?" OK, Jimmy. Go spray your hair.

The Journal-Sentinel's own Cliff Christl ripped Ted Thompson and Packers' management for the signing in his column today. Comparing this move to some of those that took place in the 1980s when the Pack had problems with players on and off the field, Christl believes the Pack is jeopardizing the reputation of the franchise and all the good will that Ron Wolf and Bob Harlan built up during the 1990s. He poses the question, based upon Robinson's checkered past -- admittedly some of it taking place as recently as about a month ago -- thusly: "What happens if Koren Robinson kills somebody in Wisconsin driving drunk or fleeing the police?" Well, sure. That would not be a good thing, nor should the question be taken lightly. Given that Robinson has been charged with drunk driving and fleeing the police, it is a fair question to ask. Alcohol abuse and addiction can be difficult to overcome for many people, for many reasons. But one way or another it usually comes down to a person making a decision that enough is enough. They see two paths before them: one is a continued downward spiral, the other is a chance at redemption, whether professional, spiritual, or whatever.

According to Silverstein's article, Packers Chairman and CEO Bob Harlan "decided to put his trust in Thompson's judgment." Quoting Harlan, "He came in last week and went through the whole situation and his relationship with him in Seattle. Ted talked to several players on the team and asked their opinion on him. They were all in favor of it. Ted was confident he would do well. I asked him, 'Are we taking a chance or does he look at this as a final opportunity?' You hope he looks at it as a final opportunity because he doesn't have many chances left."

So, we can only hope that Robinson does in fact see the road he needs to travel. One where he refrains from imbibing -- I know, I know, that's almost sacrilegious to say in Packerland -- and one free from high speed chases. Robinson has stayed in the league because of his talent. But the Packers were the only team who brought him in after he was released by the ViQueens. That seems to have "last chance" written all over it. Ted Thompson may be, as Christl argues, risking not only his own professional reputation on this signing but perhaps that of the Packers as well. Let's hope Robinson understands that and makes good on the trust Thompson is placing in him.

And by the way, as of the time of this posting, those responding to the Journal-Sentinel poll about the signing favor it by a 55-45 percent margin. In another poll, when asked if Robinson's upside was worth the risk, respondents said "Yes" by a margin of 67-33 percent.

If nothing else, the controversy over Robinson's signing gives folks something to talk about other than...wait...was there a game last Sunday???