Prior to the start of the 2007 season many had the Chicago Bears to win the NFC North Division.
Green Bay, it was said, was still young and was in need of more development. One writer even wrote, "The team wants to develop their young talent and get better for the future, a future that won't contain plans for Favre. Worse yet for Favre is that he isn't going to have his normal backfield teammates of Ahman Greene or William Henderson."
Obviously someone forgot to mention this to Favre and the Packers.
The Green Bay Packers began the season with their gun-slinger firing away as if he were a 28 year old again, and they went on to win their first four games. Then, the Chicago Bears came to town. The Bears pulled out the 27-20 victory and the whispers started to get a little louder - "Brett's too old to carry this team and the Packers cannot rely on the passing game with no running game."
Ryan Grant had been in the league since 2005, yet in two seasons he had not played a single down in a regular season game. The Notre Dame graduate was not drafted and spent two seasons with the New York Giants. Led by All-pro Tiki Barber, the Giants were stacked at the running back position. That didn't seem to faze Grant as he had high hopes of working his way up the ranks.
Grant spent 2005 on the practice squad, he worked hard and listened to what the veteran, Barber, had to say. In an interview earlier this year, Grant says of Barber, "Tiki taught me how to be a professional. He taught me the importance of a game plan and how studying film could make it a lot easier for you. He taught me the importance of taking care of your body and he showed me a lot of little things."
2006 brought quite a scare for Grant as he slipped on a wet floor and badly cut his forearm. He severed an artery and nearly bled to death. It was unclear whether he would be able to play football again and spent the entire season on IR.
Enter September 2007 when the Packers acquired Grant from the Giants for an undisclosed draft pick.
Green Bay ranked 23rd in rushing in 2006 and needed help, but with Grant yet to play an NFL down there were many doubters. The beginning of this season started off much the same for the Packers as they had only accumulated 394 rush yards through their first six games.
Then came the bye week.
Something happened. Green Bay slowly started to find a solid running game and it came in the form of Ryan Grant. Over the remaining ten games Grant averaged 92.9 ypg. Although not superstar numbers, his stats were solid and teams were now forced to watch for something more than the ageless Brett Favre and the pass game.
The Packers found themselves playing Seattle in the Divisional Playoff game at snowy Lambeau Field. Thanks to two early fumbles by Grant, Seattle found themselves up 14-0 in the first 4:01 of the game. Many would have called it a day - packed it in and went home. But not Ryan Grant. He wound up rushing right into Green Bay record book by setting the franchise record for most rushing yards in a playoff game (201) and most rushing touchdowns in a playoff game (3).
So now, as I sit here pondering next week's Packers/Giants game I begin to wonder if Favre could have carried his team without the run support. I ask myself, "Could Brett Favre and the Packers have done this well if they had not suddenly received the much needed shot of adrenalin in their running game?" "Could a relatively unknown like Ryan Grant, a supposed stopgap for the Packer's maligned running game, be this team's savior... the unsung hero... their MVP?"
I'll let you decided for now. I think I'll take a seat in front of the flat screen and enjoy what should be one heck of a game. Who knows, maybe Ryan Grant will be Green Bay's next Ahman Green.
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