Likely unbeknownst to the casual fan, Toon––a Wisconsin native––is on the Packers board of directors, a unique position for the only publicly-owned team in the NFL.
The board of directors is made up of 44 members, many of them from the world of business. A few former players, however, dot the landscape. For instance, there’s Packers Hall of Fame safety Johnnie Gray, Pro Bowl linebacker Bryce Paul and former University of Wisconsin athletics director and Washington Redskins tight end Pat Richter.
Then there’s Toon whose son Nick––like his father, played at Wisconsin––is entering the NFL Draft, which starts on Thursday.
But according to the junior Toon, Dad won’t be giving the Packers any inside information.
“Not that I know of,” laughed Toon as he talked to Cheesehead TV back at the NFL Combine. “It’s obviously a unique situation to have a dad who played in the NFL and now is on the board of directors for the Packers.”
The Packers could actually use some insider info on Nick after he broke scar tissue in his surgically repaired left foot in January while training for the NFL Draft.
Other injury issues that have forced him to miss either games or practice time during his college career include a stress fracture in his left foot, turf toe, concussion and a thigh bruise.
Toon managed to stay most healthy his senior season at Wisconsin, although, leading the team in receiving with 64 catches for 926 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Badgers won the Big Ten title and qualified for the Rose Bowl.
“Obviously the goal is to always be healthy,” said Toon. “I struggled with injuries a little bit my last two seasons, but it’s part of the game. You’ve gotta take it for what it’s worth, learn from it, get healthy, move forward. It’s just an obstacle, and there will always be obstacles in this game whether it’s an injury, a dropped pass as a receiver or a blown assignment. Mistakes happen. Nobody’s perfect. You learn from them, try not to have too many of them and you move forward.”
Considered to be a mid-round draft choice, Toon remains intriguing to many teams because of his bloodlines. They want to know if he can develop into as good a player as his father.
The younger Toon doesn’t have a lot of memories of his father as a player seeing as Nick estimates he was only four or five years old when his father retired. Most of his recollections of Al, the wide receiver, were visits to the practice field or the locker room.
But now the two work together on making Nick a better player, occasionally fine-tuning his route running, father passing along advice to his son. Nick admits he hasn’t watched a ton of film on Al, but when he has, he sees a little bit of himself in Dad.
“I think my dad was a great route runner, had great hands, he was fast,” said Toon. “He was kind of the first of his time as far as big receivers go. The game obviously has evolved since he played. I think I look like him a little bit when I’m out there playing.”
The Packers aren’t exactly in need of a wide receiver. With a group that goes more than five deep, there’s not much room for someone to step in and play right away.
In fact, there’s little chance the Packers spend a high-round draft choice on a wide receiver.
But with Greg Jennings’ contract up after the 2012 season and speculation about Donald Driver being at the end of his career, the Packers will continue to be on the lookout for weapons for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the mid to late rounds.
Taking what they perceive as a value pick on a guy like Toon wouldn’t be unheard of on the third day of the draft, and that wouldn’t bother him one bit.
“That would be awesome,” said Toon. “Obviously watched the Packers, been a fan of the Packers growing up, and I think the Wisconsin fans would love it as well.”