Thursday, April 3, 2014
Kuhn's popularity rooted in more than stats
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's hard to tell where John Kuhn's popularity is greater: Among Green Bay Packers fans or with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Both were likely celebrating on Thursday, when Kuhn agreed to return on a one-year contract that will pay him a little more than $1 million if he makes the roster this season.
Kuhn's agent, Kevin Gold, summed up the feeling in the subject line of his email that announced the deal. Gold wrote: "KUUUUUHN!"
Why is Kuhn so popular?
To understand that, you must go beyond the statistics -- 165 carries for 506 yards (a 3.1-yard average). That's not for a season. That's for his eight-year career, the last seven of which have been with the Packers.
Rather, just turn on the highlights from last year's regular-season finale. Skip ahead to the final minute of the fourth quarter.
On fourth-and-8 from the Bears' 48-yard line with 46 seconds left, Kuhn saved the Packers' season. He dove at then-Bears defensive end Julius Peppers (now with the Packers) and got just enough of a block on him to allow Rodgers to throw the game-winning, NFC North-winning touchdown to Randall Cobb.
After the game, Rodgers called Kuhn: "A big-time football player."
"It's always good to highlight the unsung heroes on the play, and it was definitely John Kuhn, as usual," Rodgers added. "They brought empty pressure, checked to it late, and I was trying to hit Jordy [Nelson] right away, the safety rolled down quickly. As I looked outside, I felt Julius was coming free, was going to try to elude him, which the chances of that are pretty slim. John comes out of nowhere and cuts him."
Kuhn is the ultimate NFL underdog. He played small-college football at Shippensburg (Pa.) and entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perhaps that's why he's so beloved in the NFL's smallest city.