GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For two years, Eddie Lacy was something of a folk hero with the Green Bay Packers. Here was the fun-loving, burly running back who took pleasure in barreling over defenders who, as Lacy always said, had to make a “business decision” whether or not to try to take him head on.
Then he became a verbal punching bag and a punch line for fat jokes.
After a pair of 1,100-yard seasons to start his career, Lacy’s production dropped in 2015 and after the season coach Mike McCarthy called him out for being overweight. He came back the next spring in better shape after workouts with P90X founder Tony Horton, but by the start of the 2016 season, he appeared to be back to his old size before an ankle injury in Week 6 ended things both for the season and his career in Green Bay.
Although the Packers offered him the chance to return, Lacy chose Seattle’s one-year, $4.25 million deal -- that contained several weight incentives -- and the chance to start anew.
When Lacy said on Thursday he wasn’t sure whether he would do the Lambeau Leap if he scored a touchdown in his Seahawks debut on Sunday against the Packers, some of the responses on social media were harsh.
“It’s normal, you know, when you’re up here everybody wants to praise you,” Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “When you’re down there, everybody wants to kick you. That sums it all up.”
Whatever the response is from the crowd at Lambeau, Lacy can count on how he’ll be received by members of his former team.
“When he was here, everybody loved him,” said Clinton-Dix, who played with Lacy in college at Alabama. “Everybody was so high on Eddie. Everybody loved No. 27. The minute he gained a little weight, or you guys thought he couldn’t move the way he wanted to move, everyone wanted to kick him down and throw rocks at him and his life.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers called Lacy “a great teammate” and “a lot of fun to be around.”
And certainly no one on defense is looking forward to tackling him.
“With Eddie, I’m sure anybody who game-scouted him, game-planned him, knows that once he gets going he’s a tough, difficult back to bring down, especially when you tackle him up high,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.
Clinton-Dix believes Lacy has had this game circled on his calendar ever since the schedule came out.
“He definitely has a chip on his shoulder coming back in Lambeau Field,” he said. “Me, personally, I don’t plan on letting him get anything going on this field here, but he’s definitely going to have a chip on his shoulder, and he’s definitely got a point to prove coming in here.”
One scout who saw Seattle’s first three preseason games this summer said Lacy looked about the same as he did during his last year with the Packers, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised Lacy’s conditioning. Lacy made his first three weight bonuses -- $55,000 each for being at 255 pounds or less on May 15, 250 or less on June 12 and 250 or less on Aug. 1. He had another weigh-in on Wednesday, when he needed to be at 245 pounds or less, but there was no word on whether he made it.
“He’s looking great,” Carroll said in a conference call with reporters at Lambeau Field. “He’s done exactly what we he needed to do. He’s in great shape.”
Who knows what Lacy would have done last season had he not injured his ankle? Regardless of his weight, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry in the five games he played in last season.
“I think Eddie was just in an unfortunate situation that I think will work out for him in the long run,” Packers new starting running back Ty Montgomery said. “I felt like he probably just got the short end of the stick, just as far as the perception about him. His average yards per carry was still high. He was still a very good back; he has great feet.”