Should Packers OLB Erik Walden Play Sunday Against the Giants?
One day after being released from Brown County jail, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Erik Ealden made an appearance in front of his teammates to offer an apology for the actions that led to his arrest early Friday morning over a domestic assault incident with his live-in girlfriend.
“I want to apologize to the entire organization, my teammates and the fans,” Walden said. “It’s an ongoing process and IÂ respect that process. It’s just unfortunate that I brought something negative for so much positive that’s going on with this organization. I’m cooperating fully.”
The apology sounded sincere, a far cry from the immature ramblings of a certain offensive line stomper from Detroit.
Recent developments in Walden’s case also make it questionable if Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski will further pursue charges in the case. Walden’s live-in girlfriend has since changed her story from last Friday, adding that she was the aggressor in the dispute and that Walden was simply acting in self-defense. According to the Journal Sentinel, Walden’s next hearing in the case will be on Dec. 7.
Walden’s apology and these recent developments beg the simple question from a football standpoint: Should Walden play against the Giants this Sunday?
Walden said on Tuesday that he understands if he doesn’t play on Sunday, answering “absolutely” when asked about the possibility. Still, the NFL won’t pursue any kind of suspension with the case still in the discretion of the District Attorney. The Packers could suspend him or make him inactive if they felt he wasn’t ready to play, but I’m guessing the NFLPA would have a big issue with any kind of suspension for Walden.
So if the Packers feel he can go, why shouldn’t Walden be able to play against the Giants?
The Packers organization, like us all, have to assume that Walden is innocent until proven guilty. Walden has no prior record, and as I stated above, his apology in front of his teammates sounded sincere.
Until Walden is charged in Brown County or any additional details are released, Walden should be given every chance to start opposite of Clay Matthews on Sunday like he has in all 11 games this season. Far too many fans have tarred and feathered Walden despite not knowing everything that happened. They read, “Walden spent the weekend in jail” and immediately assume that everything they’ve read about the situation is reality. Chris Cook’s domestic assault incident in Minnesota a few weeks ago didn’t do Walden any favors either. Â It’s unfair to both Walden and the process.
Walden’s teammates gave him plenty of support on Tuesday, too.
Jarrett Bush said this to the Green Bay Press Gazette:
â€œI know itâ€™s toughâ€¦youâ€™ve got to pick up your brother, pick him up, dust him off.Â He apologized to the team. Thatâ€™s all you can do. Iâ€™m pretty sure no one intended for that to happen, stuff happens, Iâ€™m the first one to say, ‘Hey man this is crap that just went down’ but … everybody knows in life sometimes crazy things happen.â€
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga added that the leadership in the Packers locker room won’t let Walden’s spat become a distraction.
If Walden doesn’t look any different from a football standpoint on the practice field this week, and is mentally ready with the defensive gameplan, expect No. 93 to be in the starting lineup again on Sunday against the Giants.â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2