Wide receiver Robert Ferguson does not remember the hit. He has never gone back to watch the tape. He does not even want to talk about it.
On Dec. 19, 2004, he caught a 31-yard pass near midfield when Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius clotheslined him with his forearm. The NFL fined Darius $75,000. Ferugson sustained head and neck injuries and was carted off the field and taken by ambulance to Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wis. The vicious tackle nearly paralyzed him, and he stayed in the hospital for three days.
"It's over with," Ferguson said. "It's ancient history."
Indeed Ferguson has turned over a new leaf. He trained harder than ever for the 2005 season. Lasik surgery improved his vision to 20-15. Stronger than ever, he benches 415 pounds and has six percent body fat.
"I'm real anxious right now," he said. "I want to see how I compare to the rest of the receivers in the league."
And he has set lofty goals for this season.
"I feel I'm the No. 1 receiver," he said. "Anything less than 70 catches or 1,000 yards is a poor year for me this year."
Head coach Mike Sherman will not go that far, but he has praised Ferguson, who had 24 catches for 267 yards in his 13 games last year.
"Fergie's a very integral part of our football team. He has developed into a very, very good receiver," he said. "I think he's going to have a heck of a year."
Considering the Packers have two receivers that exceeded his stated statistic goal last year in Donald Driver and Javon Walker, Ferguson has his work cut out for him.
Quarterback Brett Favre has said they have the weapons to rival the Indianapolis Colts unit that recorded 51 passing touchdowns last season. The talent of the wide receivers also excites Ferguson.
"I don't know if we'll be the most productive," he said. "But we definitely have more talent than we've ever had."
This year the Packers add rookie Terrence Murphy, who showed skilled route running abilities and a nice pair of hands during the organized team activities, to the mix.
Like Ferguson, Murphy attended Texas A&M University. The two have a bond that goes beyond their alumni ties.
Ferguson calls Murphy his "little nephew." Ferguson attended junior college at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, Murphy's hometown. So the young player looked up to him, even becoming an Aggie because of Ferguson.
"I used to imitate him, get all the film on him to be just like him," Murphy said.
Now that Murphy has become a Packer, Ferguson has mentored him on and off the field. Ferguson has showed him how to stretch, how to workout and how to run routes. He has warned Murphy to take care of his body and refrain from hitting up bars and staying out late.
"He looks out for me and puts me under his wing," Murphy said.
With Murphy increasing an already deep batch of wide receivers, some East coast media outlets have floated the possibility that the Packers will trade Fergsuon.
"I don't even consider any place else," Ferguson said.
It's understandable teams would covet the physical Ferguson. He has a 6-1, 210-pound frame, excellent hand-eye coordination and loads of potential. The five-year veteran played one year of Division I football.
He also carries an impressive special teams resume, playing on every special teams squad except for the field goal unit. For his career, he has 30 career coverage tackles and 36 kickoff returns for 819 yards. In 2003, he led the team in special teams tackles with 17.
"He's also an unselfish player who will jump in on special teams and make plays for you," Sherman said. "I think that's rare."
And this rare talent looks for a breakout year in his return to the field.