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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Giving the little man some props… Speaking of HEART...

by Bruce
For PackerChatters.com

There is a little man on the Packers squad who has played with a target on his back that has drawn plenty of criticism from the fan base. “He is too small,” “Yeah, he doesn’t fumble, but he never does anything either”… a just a couple of the complaints leveled against him.

Let me disclose that I have been one of the people hoping he would be replaced with someone a little more “Special” especially in his special team’s responsibilities. However, in the interest of fairness I believe it is important to give props where they are earned – thus this thread.

Antonio Chatman is 4th in the NFC in punt returns.

Big deal you say? Ok, let’s look league wide – he is 7th in the NFL in punt returns.

Yeah but, he never gives the big game changing returns that take it to the house – I anticipate some of you thinking. If you look at the top 21 punt returners in the league, only 4 men: Wade – Chicago, Morton – NYG, Mathis – Houston, and Randle El – Pitts have taken it to the house; and even then only once each. Add to that the fact that he is reliable and does not fumble and I think you start to get the idea of why I decided that it was past due time to give the little man some well earned ‘love’.

He has also delivered as a wide-receiver. Yes, I agree he is not big enough to be a wide receiver. Then again I have been doing a lot of mentoring work with Leo Lewis lately and he never listened to those charges that he was “too small” while he was catching passes and returning punts for the Vikings for 12 seasons and I still hear from people I introduce him to – “no way that guy was a NFL player.

Antonio may be small in stature but he is a giant in heart. Before any of you get too worked up I will say that he is much better suited to being a number 4 receiver – which is where he started the season behind Walker, Driver, Ferguson. But let’s not forget he has stepped up in his role as a starter. His 29 catches for 353 yards averages (12.17 per catch) for 3 touchdowns may not draw player of week accolades, but are stats of a man who prepares himself to do whatever the team calls upon him to do. (BTW Donald Driver our current #1 receiver also has 3 TD catches).

Each season many of us join the front office and coaches in hoping to find a talent that will beat this young man out. So far each season Antonio reminds us of the old adage, “It is not the size of the dog in the fight, rather the size of the heart/fight of the dog that matters most.” As Chatman said coming into camp, “all I ask for is an opportunity to compete, I will let my play determine the outcome.”

With Fergy slated to return on Monday against the Vikings, Chatman will benefit from moving back to the #3 receiver spot. I want to add my thanks for his courage and determination that makes me proud to call this young man, Antonio Chatman, a Green Bay Packer.

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