New Packer Christian Kirksey Brings Tremendous Character to Green Bay

New Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey is a good football player, but more importantly, an excellent man.

The Packers have, for the most part, done a pretty remarkable job over the last couple decades of bringing in players of high character, and shying away from players with known character issues.

One of GM Brian Gutekunst's newest signings, ILB Christian Kirksey, is no exception. Yes, he has experience in Mike Pettin's defense and yes, he looks to be a reliable presence in the middle of the field. But just as noteworthy, he arrives to Green Bay with a fantastic reputation, having been a beloved figure in the Cleveland community in his six seasons with the Browns.

According to Packers.com:

"Kirksey has been a respected voice on every team he's played for. A former defensive captain for the Hawkeyes, Kirksey was voted a team captain for the Browns in 2018 at only 25 years old. He also was honored as the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his charitable efforts in the Cleveland community. That involvement included his time spent with Camp Courageous, which aims to foster independence and better the quality of life for children and adults with developmental disabilities through outdoor activities. He also hosted 'A Kirkoland Story: Cleveland Familly Adoption, Backpack Giveaway' at I PROMISE School. In 2016, Kirksey was voted the Pro Football Writers of America Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award winner."

Meanwhile, Browns blog Dawg Pound Daily says Kirksey's veteran leadership will be missed:

"He was named a team captain three times during his tenure in Cleveland. That doesn't just happen simply because a player has been around the longest time. That is a direct reslut of the respect earned among teammates.

Not only is Kirksey a leader in the locker room, but he was also a leader in the local community. Kirksey was known for his charitable works with his Kirkland Foundatoin, which helps children in Cleveland and his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. He also did work with Towards Employment, which is an organization that assists people with job training and job placement...

Analytics can measure production, but it cannot measure the heart of a man. Leadership cannot be defined by an algorithm and the Browns will surely miss the amount of respect young players have for Kirksey."

 

Time will tell what kind of on-field contributions Kirksey will make to the Packers. But I'm particularly eager to see how his personality and leadership meshes with what Gutekunst is already building on this defense, where there are already a number of other high-character leaders in the mix. If Kirksey reaches as high of a standard on the field as he reportedly does with his on- and off-field intangibles, this could be a tremendous addition.

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (39)

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KC Mack's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:03 am

Great. Character. Can he play? Can he shed a guard? Can he stay with a TE or RB? Can he stay on the field for all 3 downs?

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fordguy's picture

March 19, 2020 at 10:51 am

I'm with you, not exactly a ringing endorsement when the articles talk about character and not about performance on the field.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 19, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Character is important. When it’s cold, and you’re hurt, and the refs are hosing you, it won’t be your talent that makes the difference. It’s a long season and there’s going to be adversity, and you’d better have something inside you to help you deal with it.

Coached high school football for a long time and you don’t win with talented jerks. Give me a guy who busts his ass when things are going wrong.

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BradHTX's picture

March 19, 2020 at 01:36 pm

I love this comment. Hopefully his performance matches his character. The talent is clearly there, hopefully the last two injuries were an anomaly.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:35 pm

Old School, that's it in every line of work.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 02:05 pm

Seeing as the title of the article is talking about his character, I'm not surprised that the article is about...his character.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:30 pm

That was the word with Burks. We don't need PR people, just players.

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:17 am

Sounds Promising. But the reality is he won't be enough.

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Timeout's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:02 am

I agree. As it stands he will have the same D - line in front of him as Martinez had.

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Guam's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:21 am

Until the D-line gets fixed, you are right - he won't be enough. Hopefully Gute has one more move up his sleeve and that is the acquisition of a good run stuffer. Given our cap situation, I still think he needs to release Taylor to free up enough to sign a good mid-range run stuffer. I would much rather have a starting IDL than a backup OG for that money.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:37 pm

Looks like he's getting the D line help from the draft, unless Wolfe is targeted. The rest are picked over.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

March 19, 2020 at 10:54 am

Free agency officially opened. Gute isn't done yet. With the cap space we had should have been known that we wouldn't be getting high priced guys again. Lower tier guys with the draft to sure things up.

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Harold Drake's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:27 am

Thank you for this excellent article. Outstanding! It is important to remember that players not only bring physical skills to their team but also the quality and strength of their character. One of the best articles I've read on CheeseheadTV!

And if he stays healthy, YES, he can play. A player does not get named captain purely on character only. Kirksey obviously has the ability to deliver solid performance on the field.

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Coldworld's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:56 am

In fairness most of the substance is a long quote from a Packers.com piece

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Harold Drake's picture

March 19, 2020 at 11:05 am

Yes, but Backes added considerable more material about the player that is not contained in the quote. As long as he stays healthy, this could be a fantastic, low-cost pick-up. Now the Pack still has cap space to sign a free agent WR - possibly Dorsett or Perriman - or save the money for a veteran TE and take someone like Mims with the first round pick. Remember, the Packers did not want to pay $12 million per year for Littleton although I wish they would have found a way to make that deal anyway which would have required an additional $8 million in cap space which I imagine they want to keep in reserve for extending Clark and not having to juggle existing contracts to make that happen.

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Lphill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:34 am

Right now Oren Burks is our starting inside linebacker, not Kwitnikowski, Littleton or Shobert, that’s the reality , we got worse against the run oh and Michael Pearce the run stuffer to the Vikings, great job Gute!

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NickPerry's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:05 am

Since FA just started and we're in day 2 of when a player could actually sign, I'm more than okay with what Gute has done. He's signed players who are LOW risk, HIGH reward type players, AND he's addressed two areas of need so he doesn't need to reach in the draft.

Michael Pierce was someone we all were talking about, BUT we also didn't think it would cost $27 million over 3 years to get him either. Most of us thought maybe $5 to $6 million...Maybe. Milt Hendrickson in the Packers front office probably had a lot of say it the Pierce decision IF they were even looking at him.

There's still plenty of run defenders available...Lets wait a bit longer before smashing the guy who has mostly fixed the MESS Ted Thompson left behind with all those awesome drafts he had his last 3 years at the helm!

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Coldworld's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:57 am

I think the subject of this article is our starting ILB.

Pierce got 27 million over three years: a player kicked out of camp last year for turning up so grossly out of shape he was 390 pounds. If I were a Viking fan I’d not be too happy at that. I’d probably prefer to stand pat with Lancaster than sign a player like that on a contract close to that.

Just repeating the same mantra doesn’t make it look any wiser.

Draft and the bulk of free agency value still to come. We are in silly money season here, except we managed to pick up some value. Not a bad sleight of hand by Gute.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:43 pm

Danny Shelton who went Detroit was my target. Don't know the terms of his deal in detail.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 09:27 am

"Right now Oren Burks is our starting inside linebacker, not Kwitnikowski, Littleton or Shobert,"

Your grasp of the obvious has been made abundantly and annoyingly clear. And for all the obvious love you have showered on Kwiatkoski, you've never figured out how to spell his name.

Find a different drum to beat.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 19, 2020 at 10:46 am

What are you.....like 12?
How many times are you going to post the same damn thing?

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Cheesey51's picture

March 19, 2020 at 07:39 am

Let's pickup a DL like Andrew Billings of the Bengals to allow Kirksey to make his stay in GB a positive one

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PeteK's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:15 am

I would have liked Pierce or Joseph , but they were signed for much more money than they were worth, at the least for 2 yrs 8 mill per. Billings would be an excellent addition, but I hope we can afford him because of all the money being thrown around .

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shmelbs's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:18 am

Nobody's going to take a crack at a "reslut" joke? Really?

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Spock's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:46 am

Well it was a copy and paste quote from the Cleveland dude who also spelled Foundation as " Foundatoin". Still, I nearly spit out my water when I read the "Result" mistype. :)

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PeteK's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:32 am

Lions just traded away their best defender, Slay.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:57 am

They also put money down on a replacement CB yesterday.

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PeteK's picture

March 19, 2020 at 11:27 am

Older and less talented

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 11:54 am

Interesting, though, that for all they seem to be printing money for their defense in Detroit, they were willing to give it to an aging external CB and not to Slay.

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CAG123's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:03 pm

They want to be the Patriots so bad but forgot the most important lesson if BB let’s em walk they are either average or declining. Chandler Jones is the best Patriot export so far and he was traded.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:47 pm

They definitely turned Slay off in grand Dee -troit fashion. He is a solid Corner. Good for him to get the hell out.

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 11:57 am

For those who wanted Billings. Just signed with the Browns. 1 year 3.5 mil. Whats going on in Green Bay?

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Coldworld's picture

March 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm

You are going to get upset over Billings?

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Yes! . Billings was considered one of the best NT coming out. Higher then Clarke. The scandal at Baylor kept him from going earlier. He became a PRODUCTIVE STARTER for the bengals. Huge upgrade over Lowrey or LanCaster.

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Lphill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 01:44 pm

Stockholder the Packers are happy with who they have , why try to improve ?

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Lphill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 11:58 am

Awful signing get ready to be ranked 32 Nd in run defense since we will be depending on Oren Burks to shut down the run, Congrats to the Raiders who got it right . Gute is small time compared to Mike Mayock. Let’s now sign another past his prime tight end.

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 12:16 pm

I agree LP. We now will waste picks to get a heart throb. I see him looking to the draft to fill need now. So a 1 and 3 for Murray. A 2 and 4 for Kamler. A 5 and a 6 for Lawrence. And a two 6s and two 7s for a QB from WI. Mayock or Kiper would never make that mistake in a Rich offensive draft. Live and LEARN.

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Lare's picture

March 19, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Looks like Dash is back.

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PatrickGB's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:26 pm

It would be nice to sign a high price FA. And it would be nice to have a couple of Ferrari’s. I can’t afford it and neither can the Packers afford another big name player.
It’s is what it is.

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