‘Brotherhood’ Makes Packers Greater Than Sum of Parts

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – One day, a bunch of Green Bay Packers players decided to go to watch a game at Adrian Amos’ place.

Amos was the last to find out.

“I remember Z (Za’Darius Smith) said we’re all watching the game at Double-A’s house, and you’re like, ‘What?’” safety Darnell Savage said while seated nearby Amos.

“Yeah, that happened,” Amos said.

Just how tight are the Packers? Even uninvited guests are welcome in the name of team camaraderie.

“We just do random stuff,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “Guys may just call up and say, ‘Let’s go get something to eat’ or ‘Let’s go to Amos’ house.’ And Amos might not even know we’re going to his house. And we just go there and watch the game or something like that. It will be something random like that. He don’t say no, just let us in the house and we go there and order pizza and all kinds of stuff and have a good time. That’s what it’s all about.”

Chemistry is a chicken-or-egg sort of question. Do teams win because of chemistry? Or do teams have chemistry because they win?

Regardless, the Packers have both chemistry and wins. A tight-knit bunch will face the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

The Smith Brothers – outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith – have called it a “brotherhood.”

“The world calls us brother, we act like brothers,” Za’Darius Smith said. “We bring the best out of each other, so that carries on around the team.”

An offseason of change, led by the hiring of coach Matt LaFleur and the signing of outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, ushered in a new vibe on the team. Smith has been the chief organizer of “bringing the fun,” as quarterback Aaron Rodgers put it, from Halloween parties at the National Railroad Museum to bowling outings to postgame get-togethers.

“It feels like college,” running back Aaron Jones said. “You got your leaders stepping up and planning those things, so you can just tell we all enjoy being around each other.”

Williams, who played for the Packers from 2006 through 2014 and is in his second year back with the team, saw the difference immediately.

“It’s been like that since Day 1,” he said. “Typically, during the year, you can sense you’re getting better as the year goes on, a sense of shifting at some point. It’s been like that since Day 1, starting with the offseason. Guys just wanted to be around each other and had a liking for one another. When I saw that, I was like, ‘Man, I haven’t had this feeling since the year we won the Super Bowl, 2010.’ And it was a little different in 2010, but it was the same thing. The one in 2010 came more throughout the season, and you could feel it building and building and everybody pulling together, everybody sticking together. It was contagious. Everybody just wanted to be together and it just happened all of a sudden. Here it just kind of happened right away and has been consistent. That’s what’s been different. It’s been like that the whole time.”

Players aren’t playing only for themselves. Rather, they’re playing for their friends and teammates. That makes the Packers greater than the sum of their parts, which perhaps explains how a team without any dominant characteristics has won 14 games and is in position for its first Super Bowl since 2010.

Said receiver Davante Adams: “I feel like the more you connect with a guy off the field, the higher the chances that you’ll want to go out there and lay it on the line for the guy.”