PR: Last year, you were poised for a breakout year. But it was a very different break that defined your season. Take me back to that moment in Baltimore.
RC: It was a two-minute drive. It was coming down, getting close to the end of the half. Routine out-and-up play, ran it a thousand times. I catch it and, before I can even get my foot down, I’m getting hit. And lucky enough my cleat wasn’t in the ground because, if so, it probably would’ve been a lot nastier than what it was. It was very fortunate. I definitely think that you gotta know there’s a God with something like that. Because something that close, it could’ve went either way, and definitely having the Lord and Savior on my side helped.
I really thought in the moment that I got hit that my career was over. I thought I was done. Once the doctor came over and checked it and realized that my ACL and everything was fine, it was a blessing. I had no ligament damage, it was all bone, so once my bone healed up, I was good to go.
PR: Have you watched the play?
RC: I watched it actually right in the back, right after it happened. They were scanning my knee. They had it on the TV. So, I saw it right after it happened.
PR: Was it a cheap shot?
RC: You know, I think with the new rules that are in place, guys are kind of targeting lower because of the fines and the suspensions so, you know, I think it definitely goes to the rules. I have no control over that. That’s above my pay grade. I just have to go out there and accept it and understand its part of the game and what’s going to happen. Injuries occur. Unfortunately it happened to me, but it’s part of the game.
PR: Where were you mentally after the injury? Where’s your head at dealing with that?
RC: It was definitely a dark place. Probably one of the mistakes I made was pushing everybody in my life out and taking it all on by myself, which was probably the worst thing. I was definitely in a dark place for a while. You know, living here in Green Bay by myself, going to treatment, coming back home and sitting in the dark by myself. It was a depressing place. I think the biggest thing was just not having the game in my life anymore. I pretty much leave and breathe by football and always have, so taking the biggest thing out of my life and being on my own and not really knowing what to do with myself … it was a tough spot for me.
PR: Now Aaron was out with his own injury — the broken collar bone. Was that an opportunity for you two to bond and kind of share that struggle together?
RC: Yeah, I think so, especially with us both being out. I think we were close but, I think in that moment when we were both out, it brought us a lot closer. We had the same feelings. I think it re-ignited that flame inside of us for how much we love and enjoy the game and not being able to do what we love was tough. So, just having each other and having support from each other, I think definitely brought us closer.
PR: There’s a happy ending to the story when both of you end up on the field together for the regular-season finale at Chicago. Take me through what was easily the biggest play of the season — and one of the biggest of any seasons — with that late-game touchdown.
RC: Oh man! That play … so many things had to go wrong for it to go right. First off, with them coming on an all-out blitz, John Kuhn checking the protection, half the line getting it, the other half not, him being able to make an incredible block on (Julius) Peppers, Aaron being able to get out of the pocket and find me downfield, me coming off the ball and seeing that a guy is standing right where I have to go and, instead of running the route that I’m supposed to, abandoning everything and throwing my hand up and the rest is history.
PR: How long did it seem waiting for that ball to drop out of the sky?
RC: Oh, it was forever. Forever. You ever see the movie “The Little Giants?” You know that scene with the roll of toilet paper in the air? It kind of felt like that scene. The ball was in the air forever and just waiting for it to come down felt like a lifetime.
PR: When you walk out of the locker room at Lambeau Field, there’s all these historical moments hanging on the wall — Bart Starr’s touchdown at the Ice Bowl, Al Harris’ overtime interception, Antonio Freeman’s “Improbable Bobble,”… will that touchdown be up there someday?
RC: I don’t know, with everything that was on the line, us and our playoff hopes and killing the Bears’ playoff hopes, maybe it will make it, maybe it won’t. But one thing that’s great is being surrounded by so much greatness. Being able to see those pictures in the hallway before we walk out on the field… seeing hall of famers on the wall throughout the locker room area. It’s a great feeling to have all this greatness around you.
PR: Unfortunately, the season ends with another loss to the 49ers. How does that shape your mind set for this year?
RC: I think the way that we’ve went out the last three years since I’ve been in the league — a 15-1 season and getting put out in the first round by the Giants, my second year getting put out by San Fran in the second round, and now this past year with San Fran — just having that as motivation, being able to use that in the offseason to fuel you, to push you, using that to continue to create that chip on your shoulder. It’s definitely something that motivates you going into the next year.
PR: You open the season against the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. You like that matchup right out of the gate as a measuring stick, or would you rather get some momentum as a team and then face them?
RC: Why not start off the year like that? I’m really looking forward to that game. You have one of the best corners in the game in Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ defense is one of the best in the league, if not the best statistically over the last few years. They’re coming off a Super Bowl win, you’re going to the ‘12th Man’ to play. I mean, why not? The stage is set. It’s just time for you to take control of what you can and go out there and do what you’ve got to do.
PR: What will Year 4 look like for you?
RC: I don’t know. I can tell you that I prepared this offseason to be the best Randall Cobb that I can be. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to getting back on track to where I felt I was heading last year. Why not me? Why can’t I be that guy? I think that’s been my motto all offseason and I’m just ready to get it here and just to prove myself.
PR: Is a 100-catch season a goal?
RC: That’s a little low (laughing). Let’s shoot a little higher. I want to be the best. I’m going to take hold of all the opportunities I get. I can’t guarantee I’m going to get 100 balls, but if I do, it’s my job to catch them and do what I can with them. I’m really looking forward to having those opportunities.
PR: We’ve seen Cobb the returner, Cobb running out of the backfield, Cobb the receiver. When do we see you throw your first NFL touchdown? Is that coming?
RC: Yeah, I think so. You never know. We might pull that trick out of the bag this year.
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W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at email@example.com.