Over the past few years, the Green Bay Packers have released the jersey numbers that their rookies and newly acquired players would wear before they ever put on a uniform. It used to be that players might get a chance to pick their numbers and we seldom heard about it until mini camp started.
Earlier this week, the rookie numbers came out and one stood out to me. Second-round pick and cornerback Quinten Rollins was given jersey number 24. Veteran defensive back and special teams ace Jarrett Bush had donned that number for the Packers since 2006. Year after year, Bush seemed to be fighting tough odds to make the team, sometimes down to the last preseason game, but he stuck around and forged a decent career for himself in Green Bay. It appears as though that chapter of his career has come to an end. Bush is still a free agent and with the Packers having drafted two defensive backs with their first two picks, it doesn’t appear as though he’s in the future plans.
Bush didn’t play on defense much and the running joke was that if he was on the field as a defensive back, that we might all be better off turning away at the snap. Bush did have a few memorable plays on defense along the way, with a big interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV and another to clinch a victory against the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. He even somehow won a starting job in 2012 and promptly lost it midway through the first game of the season. But Bush was much more known for his savvy on special teams where he excelled as a gunner on the punt coverage unit.
Ask guys who covered the Packers over the years that Bush was on the team and they’ll tell you he was often the first guy in the building and the last to leave. After practice was over, he could be seen running sprints and doing some additional work on his conditioning.
Packers fans tend to bond with the blue chip-type guys that become solid role players. John Kuhn is another example of that type of guy who is likely in his last season in Green Bay. Bush’s inevitable departure is just another reminder that this is a young man’s game. He can probably still play and may very well end up on a roster before the 2015 season starts. But the Packers like to stay young and they have become known for letting players go a year or two sooner than other teams might, in favor of younger and newer blood.
Special teams were a sore spot for the Packers last year and they turned in the league’s worst unit. Bush was still a bright spot and it’s hard to imagine what the team would have had out there had Bush not been on it. With new talent in the draft and a fresh approach to coaching by head coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers appear to be making moves to improve this area drastically.
With that, it’s time to thank Jarrett Bush for nine years of service, wish him well and find the next special teams gem.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: