Here’s what Colt Lyerla said:
There is a thing called change, regardless of where I go in the draft or don’t get drafted all the nay-sayers will b proven wrong #patience
— (@LongLiveLyerla) May 10, 2014
There are some keenly distressing comments in the DuckStopsHere.com’s 2011 player profile about undrafted NFL signee Colt Lyerla, following the section on his game performance against Glencoe High School (OR), when everyone began raving about the then highly touted 18 year old prospect from Hillsboro High School. Oregon duck fanatics were showering the coveted athlete in only positive feedback. He’s The Chosen One. Lyerla’s The Great In-State Hope. The kid from Hillsboro is a five-star wunderkind. Those who once praised the high flying versatile duck for his off-the-field conduct as well as elite play now ask, what if this whole Packers’ stint is his last opportunity? What if he is one of the ‘others’ who “lose their way in a bottle or bad decision(s)”?
Forgetting the slew of controversies is impossible and nobody can rewrite the astounding scenarios that played out involving Lyerla across the 2013-2014 Oregon Ducks’ season. There will always be tainted memories of the regressions which forced the talented hybrid tight-end to slide past the draft. His arrest on October 23, 2013 is one of those past reminders which draw immediate concerns to his potential cocaine abuse. He was discovered in a car inhaling what appeared to be a white powdery substance. Add this strife to a plot that includes his earlier October 6th abrupt departure from the team, and what you’ll discover is a protagonist descending into the depths of oblivion; the “could have been” category. However, we’re not describing a piece of literature. There is no eraser or backspace which can expunge the onslaught of complications Lyerla confronted and lives with as a dent to his name. This is reality. The NFL does not tolerate successive acts of etiquette-less behavior. Where does this leave Colt Lyerla?
The Oregon Ducks will fly on. College football will resume play in the fall, and a new cast of the nation’s most ravenous amateurs will vie from all school’s for a national championship. Meanwhile, the NFL’s practice squad participants will compete week to week for that opportunity to ascend the ranks on to the field of distinction. These thoughts have loomed over Lyerla as much as they have the general managers, scouts, and coaching personnel that spend countless hours diagnosing viable candidates for their organization’s system.
Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson is not unconscious to the processes nor the perilous history that accompanies a competitor like Lyerla. On all accounts, the Packers’ recent signing of Lyerla is mutually beneficial. The addition of Lyerla plays right into Thompson’s tactical scheme in equipping the Packers with a young low-cost tight end that bolsters an obvious need for depth. Thompson reflected on the signing by commenting, “You weigh it all. . . . and every case is an individual case. We have always believed that, or I have always believed that there are certain things that people can atone for, acknowledge their mistakes and get on with their lives. And I am a proponent of those kind of people that try to do that. And that’s where we’re at with Colt.” What Thompson has verified in his assessment of Lyerla is that people experience mishaps, become caught in a debacle of chaos, and either learn the context of the situation they find themselves in or aimlessly run amuck society. In one respect, Thompson vouches that Colt is indeed an adapted individual.
Lyerla confessed and owned up to his previous errors, but identified that correction of those wrongdoings predicates a broader change of action in approaches toward life. This staggering journey isn’t merely about making it to the NFL. It’s about traveling the steep avenues of life and defying one’s odds against adversity when no alternative option presents itself. “I put myself in a position where my back’s against the wall, to the point that if I don’t do everything perfect and the right way, I won’t be able to play football, let alone be successful in any shape or form,” Lyerla said in February, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A resounding sigh of humiliation can be heard.
Is this Lyerla’s last opportunity at the NFL despite his young age of 21? While Lyerla averaged a notable 16.8 yards per catch throughout his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Oregon, he also recorded 11 touchdown grabs. College football skills are not always transferable to the NFL, but Lyerla’s 6’4” frame, 4.61 40-yard dash, and 39 inch vertical jump certainly caught the Packers’ attention enough to earn him the rookie camp tryout.
We shouldn’t be asking whether or not this is Lyerla’s last opportunity as much as we should ask whether he has been playing the right game? People have misconstrued the sportive tossing of a pigskin as the game which Colt has been playing by. This is not his game. He has been preoccupied with the seemingly boundless game of adversity brought on himself by off-the-field distractions since October 2013. The stream of adversities in life may never go away, but can be gradually overcome. The Packers’ help to alleviate some of that burden to an extent came with entrusting Colt.
Retired football coach Lou Holtz once said, “the team changes every year, but each team member’s three implicit questions for him remain the same: Do you care about me? Can I trust you? Are you committed to the success of our team?”. The team has changed for Colt, and perhaps if he can stick it out till September asking himself those questions routinely, we may catch a glimpse of the former duck at Lambeau Field; finally playing the game he once knew.
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