Packers' Sam Barrington on competition: 'I'm comfortable with my game'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After an epic battle with a 400-pound bull shark on a fishing expedition and an arduous rehab from foot surgery that ended his 2015 season after one game, Sam Barrington is not going to let a little competition faze him.

He’s too focused on regaining his pre-injury form to worry about the Green Bay Packers adding a pair of linebackers during the recent NFL draft.

Barrington also is confident enough in what he can do when healthy that he won’t hesitate to help any of the new guys, including inside linebacker Blake Martinez, whom the Packers drafted in the fourth round to serve as direct competition with him.

“There are two different ways you can look at it. You can be the type who’s anxious and whatnot. But if you’re like me, I’m comfortable with the person I am, I’m comfortable with my game, I’m going to work hard and reap the benefits from working hard,” Barrington said this week in an interview on “The Drew Olson Show” on ESPN Milwaukee.

“I don’t care who we bring in -- I’m just glad we have guys who want to win the game. All I want to do is win and have fun playing the game of football. There’s several ways you can have fun, but I guarantee you No. 1 is to win.”

If that’s true, then being healthy enough to take part in said winning is No. 1a, because twice in his first three NFL seasons, Barrington has ended the year on injured reserve. It happened during his rookie year, when a hamstring injury shelved him after seven games, but last year was far worse, as he suffered a foot injury in the regular-season opener at Chicago and -- despite staying in the game after the injury occurred -- didn’t play again the rest of the season.

“Being injured was a very humbling process,” said Barrington, who played in 14 games (seven starts) in 2014, registering 88 tackles and one sack. “Because you’re totally uncomfortable and you almost have to rebuild what you think is going to happen in your life. I had to start from ground zero.

“What I’ve gained is an improved state of mind. I never took anything for granted, but now I’m for damn sure not going to take anything for granted.”

Barrington, who was named the Packers’ 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his extensive charity work, was in Milwaukee this week to announce a cooperative initiative among his foundation, Milwaukee Public Schools, Blessings in a Backpack, the Dreambuilders Foundation and United Health Care to help children in the hardscrabble Sherman Park neighborhood.

Barrington and his partners will provide 100 students from Townsend Street School with backpacks filled with nutritious food each Friday, giving kids healthy snacks to eat over the weekend when they’re away from the school lunch program. Barrington’s group also will renovate a student activity room at the school.

“The kids are the ones who need it the most,” Barrington said.

The event was part of a busy offseason for Barrington, who went to the NFL draft in Chicago, where he announced the Packers’ third-round pick; traveled to Los Angeles to take part in an NFLPA event; attended the Ed Block Courage Awards in Baltimore as the Packers’ representative; and, of course, reeled in that giant bull shark last month.

“Keep in mind, that morning, I did get a workout in,” Barrington said, adding that video of his big catch is on YouTube. “I will say, from a physically challenging aspect, that was probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Because it gets to the point where [you ask yourself], ‘Do I want to stop because my back is cramping up, my foot is cramping up, or do I continue and get this thing accomplished?’ That’s where I was about 25 minutes into it. It was my first time catching a shark. But I enjoyed it.”