Packers felt 'Friday Night Lights' butterflies

Posted at 12:44 PM, Nov 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-19 13:44:30-05
Playing before 78,000 fans and national television audiences certainly brings nervousness to any NFL player as they step onto the field for a game.
For many Green Bay Packers, however, live crowds that were about 75,000 fans smaller brought similar butterflies - crowds from nights where high school classmates and families in their hometown loved them the way Packers fans do today.
Photo: Denise Gorski/Boardman (Ohio) High School
"The same butterflies for me. I was scared. I wanted to perform well," admitted Packers starting center and Boardman (Ohio) High School alumnus Corey Linsley.
He admits his first game didn't go so well while wearing the maroon No. 75 jersey for the Spartans. Had a second chance not come quickly for him, would he have ever been able to chase the dream he's living now?
"I was scared out of my mind. I got benched after the first half. An injury happened. I came back and had a great second game starting. That was how I dealt with it. I got a second opportunity."
Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery in his high school basketball days. | Photo: St. Mark's School of Texas
Wide receiver Ty Montgomery empathizes with Linsley's jitters. He felt them, too as he quickly rose up the depth chart of St. Mark's School in the high school football hotbed of Dallas, Texas, just a few months after middle school graduation.
"I was super nervous, being on varsity as a freshman. Then I was starting," he said.
"My first catch might have been a touchdown in the back of the end zone, an over-the-shoulder toe-tap (catch)."
To Montgomery, games with 2,000 fans and no TV audience brought more jitters than games with 78,000 with worldwide viewership.
"I think there were more butterflies back then than there is now. I've gotten used to playing on a bigger stage, playing through varsity, then playing on a bigger stage in college. Now that I'm here, not really as many nerves."
His fellow young wide receiver, Davante Adams, had similar jitters. He went to high school at Palo Alto (Calif.) High School, across the street from where Montgomery played his college football at Stanford.
However, he says the professional game gives him more nervousness.
"Obviously on a bigger stage, it's going to be a higher sense of urgency. You get those jitters a little bit more."
He felt the jitters in game one of his high school career - a game that took forever for him to get to after missing the game for too long.
"I was pretty nervous because I was coming off of a broken arm before that. It was my first football game in three years, so I was pretty nervous, but I had a pretty good game."
First games were not on the top of mind for cornerback Casey Hayward. Memory of a rivalry was, a passion-filled one at Perry High School in Georgia, where he played both defensive back and quarterback.
"My senior year, we hadn't beaten our rival team (Peach County High School) in 18 years. They'd normally been blowing us out," he spoke of a team that would normally romp through Perry en route to state championships. 
"My senior year, we beat them at their place, and I had seven touchdowns. That was probably my most memorable moment in high school."
Moments of favorite games are one thing that last in the back of the mind. Relationships remain far beyond, along with pride of the past and pride in the present.
Adams says his football-playing high school friends are proud of him and his NFL accomplishments. He keeps in touch with them, and says that even if they're not making the kind of salary or getting the kind of notoriety he's receiving, he shares the same feeling about them.
"Some of them are fighting fires. We all have our different paths that we end up taking. I'm proud of them just like they're proud of me."