Injury ends Franklin's Packers career

Updated: June 19, 2014, 10:23 PM ET
By Rob Demovsky | ESPN.com

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers' fears that the neck injury running back Johnathan Franklin sustained last season as a rookie would be career-ending have come to fruition.

Coach Mike McCarthy said at the close of minicamp on Thursday that Franklin's tenure with the Packers is over. The official transaction is expected to come Friday, but Franklin's agent, Kenny Zuckerman, told ESPN.com the Packers will release Franklin with the waived/injured designation.

Franklin, a fourth-round pick out of UCLA last year, sustained both a neck injury and a concussion while returning the opening kickoff against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24. He was placed on injured reserve three days later. Although Franklin did not undergo neck surgery, that was the injury that ended his Packers' career. It likely will end his NFL career as well, but Zuckerman said they were still waiting to hear back from another specialists.

Zuckerman did not know whether Franklin has stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that makes a person more susceptible to neck injuries.

"The group of doctors thought it was in his best interest not play anymore," Zuckerman said. "We're going to talk to another group just to give him some peace of mind."

Those who know Franklin say he will rely on his faith and the fact that he has aspirations beyond football to move forward, something that was evident in a tweet he posted shortly after McCarthy's announcement.

Franklin has said that his goal is to become mayor of Los Angeles, his hometown.

"He understands that the NFL is a steppingstone to his next career," Zuckerman said. "I'm sure he will do something big and wonderful."

Franklin, the 125th overall pick in the 2013 draft, likely will be best remembered for his performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. With fellow rookie Eddie Lacy inactive because of a concussion, Franklin was pressed into duty after fill-in starter James Starks sustained a knee injury. Franklin carried 13 times -- all in the second half -- and rushed for 103 yards (51 of which came on one run) and a touchdown. However, his first -- and only -- 100-yard game was spoiled when his fumble on fourth-and-1 was returned 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 3:47 remaining.

"I can't say enough about him as a person, I don't know if there's, he's as classy of a young man that's walked through these doors," McCarthy said. "Anybody that's had a chance to get to know him on and off the field, he's a class act. You'll always remember his smile and energy -- so positive, his outlook. Just the way he handled this whole process of going through all the different tests and so forth. But his situation will be addressed tomorrow by the organization."

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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