<
>

In uncertain world of long-snapping, Brett Goode is ready for the unknown

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Goode knows how this works. Seven years ago, he was the working stiff who got a lucky break because of someone else’s bum knee, so he fully understands that his days as the Green Bay Packers’ long-snapper could be over.

But as he works his way back from Dec. 28 reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee -- and as he faces unrestricted free agency -- Goode knows he’s had too good of a ride in the volatile football business to start fretting now.

“My mindset is just to try and get healthy. I can’t control anything, can’t do anything. I’m not going to sit here and dwell on what-ifs,” Goode said. “I’m just going to try to get healthy as quickly as I can and go from there.”

In the summer of 2008, Goode was working construction for his father's company in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and was about to pour concrete into a new driveway when the Packers called to offer him a tryout after rookie long-snapper J.J. Jansen suffered a torn ACL in training camp.

Goode went on to win a three-way snap-off against two other free agents, while Jansen spent the season on injured reserve and was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a seventh-round draft pick the next year. (Jansen, incidentally, re-signed with the Panthers on Wednesday, inking a five-year, $5.5 million deal.)

Goode handled all of the Packers’ long-snaping duties thereafter -- at least until the team’s Dec. 20 win at Oakland, when he tore his ACL on the Packers’ first punt but managed to finish the game.

The Packers replaced Goode with Rick Lovato, a free agent from Old Dominion who was making sandwiches in a New Jersey sub shop owned by his father and uncle when the Packers called.

In the Packers’ final two regular-season games and two playoff games, Lovato snapped well enough that special teams coordinator Ron Zook said he believes Lovato is an NFL-caliber snapper. Since Lovato signed a two-year deal upon his arrival, he’s on the Packers’ roster already -- putting him one up on Goode.

“Rick came in here in a very, very tough situation. He's making sandwiches one day and a couple days later he's snapping for the Green Bay Packers,” said Zook, referring to Lovato’s NFL debut at Arizona on Dec. 27. “He's snapping against a very, very good football team, he's snapping from the 1-yard line, he's snapping on a fake punt. I mean, there's a lot of things happening to that guy. I was really proud he came in and did a good job.”

That said, Zook acknowledged that the Packers had to alter their coverage and protection schemes without Goode, and earlier in the season Zook said he hadn’t seen any drop-off in Goode’s velocity, accuracy or coverage work from the year before. Zook said after the season that he would like Goode to return to the job in 2016.

“I hope so,” Zook said. “Obviously, that’s not my decision, but ... he’s doing well, looking good, feeling good.”

Goode said he didn’t know whether his recovery timeline would have him ready for the start of training camp July 24, and free agency is uncharted territory for him, too. He signed a three-year, $2.715-million contract extension in October 2012, and a two-year extension in January 2011 before his initial Packers contract was set to expire.

He probably cost himself some money by re-upping early -- he was tied for 19th among long-snappers last year in annual average salary at $905,000 -- but he’s also treated football as a temporary job and has saved his money accordingly.

“I think a lot of what helps is being smart over the years. That helps with being able to support your family,” said Goode, whose wife, Monica, gave birth to a son, Jackson, in July. “Nothing’s going to be decided right away. I can’t sit here and think about the negative stuff, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”