GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Blake Martinez had heard all the J.J. Watt references. More than a few of his teammates teased him last week, saying he might’ve been picking at the scab just to toughen up his image.
Truth be told, though, the Green Bay Packers' rookie inside linebacker went into the team’s game against the Detroit Lions this past Sunday hoping to escape without re-opening the gash on the bridge of his nose -- thinking a week devoid of tackling might allow enough time for it to heal.
“I want it to go away during the bye week,” Martinez said last Thursday, a few days before the Packers’ 34-27 win over the Lions. “But we’ll see what happens.”
What happened was Martinez came charging in to tackle Lions running back Dwayne Washington with 9 1/2 minutes left in the first half Sunday, crashed into Washington and teammate Dean Lowry, and suddenly had blood pouring down his nose and cheeks. He came to the sideline right away after the play, then headed to the locker room with the medical staff.
Old-school Packers fans might have had flashbacks of 1980s safety Chuck Cecil, who played five hard-hitting seasons in Green Bay (1988 through 1992) and is now an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Rams. Younger fans likely thought of Watt, the former University of Wisconsin star who split open the bridge of his nose early in the 2013 season and dealt with it the rest of the year, eventually mulling plastic surgery to repair it after that season.
“That’s what everyone keeps telling me, ‘Oh, you’re trying to do the J.J. Watt look.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I do not want this on my face anymore,’” Martinez said before the game. (He did not speak to reporters Sunday.) “I’m hoping it goes away as fast as possible. But if I get that cool snapshot of me with blood flowing down my face, I wouldn’t mind that.”
Mission accomplished. Martinez missed the remainder of the first half, came back to start the third quarter wearing a small bandage across the bridge of his nose and promptly bled through that. By game’s end, he was wearing a large bandage in the shape of a capital "I" that attached to his forehead and cheeks.
Martinez said the injury originally happened in practice before the team’s Sept. 18 game at Minnesota, when his helmet slid down onto his nose during a collision in practice. It broke back open during the loss to the Vikings and again in practice last Thursday, prompting the medical staff to sew up the gash, Martinez said.
“I think I have three or four stitches in there,” he said. “My helmet just came down and scraped it open. I’m hoping no one else makes my helmet go down [again].”