Christian Kirksey is excited to play for a winner.
That’s something the new Green Bay Packers linebacker, signed in early March after being cut by Cleveland, has not experienced in his six-year NFL career in a Browns uniform.
As Kirksey drove in his car Wednesday afternoon, he conducted a Zoom conference call with the Wisconsin media. He smoothly multi-tasked while addressing a wide range of topics as he transitions to Green Bay, a team with a proven quarterback and a winning tradition.
While Kirksey was experiencing four last-place finishes and a 24-71-1 with five different head coaches and five primary quarterbacks, Green Bay under Aaron Rodgers has made the playoffs eight times in the past 10 years on won a Super Bowl.
And in Matt LaFleur’s first season, finished 14-4 in 2019 and advanced to the NFC Championship game. With that kind of success comes a huge target in 2020.
I’m excited to be a part of that,” Kirksey said. “I’ve never been a part of that in my six years in the league. I’ve never even had a winning season in my career. Just to get on Zoom and be a part of a team meeting and see a head coach come in here and say, ‘We were undefeated in our division, and we’re going to be the hunted.’ I got excited. I was revved up because I get to be a part of that.”
“Me coming into Green Bay and actually seeing Aaron Rodgers, who has been there, who I was watching when I was a kid. Him winning games and them winning the Super Bowl, going to the NFC championship. I’m just excited.”
Kirksey also has a lot to prove.
He missed 23 games over the past two seasons with injuries and wants to show he can be an elite linebacker.
“I got cut and got picked up by a great team,” Kirksey said. “It couldn’t have happened in a better way, as far as, almost like a Cinderella story. I get hurt, the next thing I know, I’m signing a deal with the Green Bay Packers. I’m excited about it.”
The 6-foot-2-inch, 236-pound Kirksey brings versatility and leadership to a defense he’s very familiar with.
Kirksey played for two seasons in Cleveland under Mike Pettine, now the Packers’ defensive coordinator. He is expected to fill Blake Martinez’s role as quarterback of the defense after two injury-ravaged seasons.
“I want to get back to playing great football,’ Kirksey said. “Re-establishing myself and getting my name back out there and letting people know Christian Kirksey is back, Christian Kirksey is a great linebacker in this league. That’s what I’m shooting for.
“For those who may have slept on me or said, ‘Oh, he’s injury prone,’ or ‘He’s not the same player he used to be, ‘I’m here to prove them wrong and prove to myself that I’ve still got what it takes to be one of the best linebackers in the league.