Franklin, wearing a team-issued T-shirt, laughed and joked with Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson during a special teams period. Franklin declined comment after shaking hands with a few reporters, and coach Mike McCarthy said, “I hope so,” when asked if he might find some sort of official role for Franklin.
“You would like all your guys to be involved,” McCarthy said. “Johnathan, he’s a class act. He’s as fine as a young man that’s every walked through these doors in my time here. It’s great to have him back.”
Franklin, who announced his retirement during the June minicamp, was a fourth-round pick last year from UCLA. One of his teammates there was Datone Jones.
“He’s been like a brother to me for eight years,” Jones said. “Every chance we get to talk, we talk about something new. We’re not just football players; we’re good friends. To me, he’s my family. Whenever he needs to talk, I’m his family. We developed a bond when we were at UCLA – blood brothers. Now, we’re here and we’re even more blood brothers. He’s a great guy.”
Jones, who said he last talked to Franklin a few weeks ago, was hopeful Franklin would be able to stick with the team in some capacity.
“He loves football, he loves embracing the team and bringing the team up,” Jones said. “He carries an aura with him. He has a gift to brighten people’s days. He lets you know that everything is all right and life will go on. … He’s a very gifted and intelligent guy. At UCLA, he was involved in so many different ventures on and off the field. I’m not really worried for Johnathan. Johnathan’s going to be all right.
“This is a brotherhood. We fight, we work hard and we eat together. That sounds like family to me. He’s still a part of our family.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com, and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.