Brandon Underwood was waiting in the locker room, his head down.
Underwood, with perhaps his NFL career in limbo as the Sauk County district attorney considers pressing charges for his role in an alleged sexual assault last weekend, apologized to teammates at a team meeting on Wednesday and apologized publicly after Wednesday’s organized team activity.
“At this time, I’m not going to be able to make any statements involving the situation. It’s a legal matter,” Underwood said. “I understand that you guys all have a job to do. It’s just at this current time, I’m not going to be able to make any statements or answer any questions. And I just want to apologize to my teammates for dragging them into this and I’m sorry that it’s been a distraction for the team.”
Underwood wasn’t supposed to field questions from reporters, but did answer when asked how he was doing in the days since police were called to a condo in Wisconsin Dells early Saturday morning.
“It’s just been a long week and hopefully the week will hurry up and wind down for me,” Underwood said.
Underwood was in the area to play in Clay Matthews’ charity golf tournament. In turn, Matthews’ name — along with five other players — was sullied. Matthews admitted “frustration” over the incident and said Underwood would have to “earn our trust back.” Underwood’s apology was a good first step.
"I really appreciated it,” Matthews said. “Obviously, it was his first time addressing the team, not only the team but the individuals that had their name brought up in this case. I thought it was very sincere. He promised not to be a distraction. He had a sincere apology for not only us but our families and everybody who was in some way affected and which we weren't involved in this. So, I thought it was a step in the right direction and, like I've been saying, we're looking to move forward and keep him a part of the team and hopefully everything works out for the best.”
Whatever happened or didn’t happen that night with two women came just a couple days after coach Mike McCarthy hailed Underwood as one of a couple of second-year players to make the biggest leap this offseason. McCarthy said he felt “very good” about Underwood after meeting individually with the cornerback.
“I stand by what I said about Brandon Underwood last week,” McCarthy said. “I think he has had a very good offseason program here at work, and that's the facts. I don't know how much you watched him play today, but I'm sure when I go upstairs and watch the film, the young man is an ascending player. But this isn't all about playing football. There is a lot more to it. The rules of our society dictate that, the rules of the National Football League dictate that, and the more importantly, the rules here in Green Bay dictate that, and it's a lesson that he will learn from.”
Mike Roemer/AP Images
Underwood, Johnny Jolly and Spencer Havner have made the wrong kind of headlines this offseason, which seems to go against the “Packer People” mantra that McCarthy has employed since hired in January 2006.
“I think they are isolated, and that's the way you deal with them,” McCarthy said. “You deal with everything one day at a time and you make sure that you stay on top of all of the individuals in your program. I think we do a very good job of that here.”
McCarthy called the Underwood incident a “teachable moment” for what was the youngest team in the NFL last season. McCarthy addressed the team about it on Wednesday and the players took notice.
“When you come to a pro level, you have to be careful about what’s going on,” second-round pick Mike Neal said. “There’s probably people that are out to get you and you can be completely innocent, so I think that you’ve just got to be careful about what’s going on. You never want anybody to be in that situation. I’m a positive person and I think that nothing but positive is going to come out of this situation, no matter how negative it is to anybody. You’ve got to keep your head on a swivel and understand what people are out to get you and what people really want to be your friend.”
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