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Gbaja-Biamila: 'I Need To Be Here'


What happened Wednesday in Green Bay would have been hard to picture three years ago, when Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, then on the Packers' practice squad, was getting kicked out of the team's walkthrough practice for not paying attention.

But there have been better days for Gbaja-Biamila in Green Bay since then, and now there should be many more to come.

Wednesday, the defensive end known as "KGB" signed a multi-year contract that will keep him in a Packers uniform through the 2009 season.

He did so with the Philadelphia Eagles also aggressively courting his services. And ultimately it may have been because of, not in spite of, that rocky beginning that made Gbaja-Biamila so determined to stay.

"I just felt that I need to be here," Gbaja-Biamila said in a press conference Wednesday. "When I came here to Green Bay there were some goals that I set, like breaking Reggie White's (career sacks) record.

"I remember when I got kicked off the football field (in 2000), the same day I told Coach (Mike) Sherman I'd really like to help him, that I wouldn't mess up again, and I hope that I can help him to win the Super Bowl here. Those things are not done yet here and I pray by the grace of God that we can accomplish those things."

Coming off two double-digit sack seasons and entering what would have been the final year of his previous contract, Gbaja-Biamila's signing puts to rest what was without a doubt the biggest contract story of the Packers' offseason.

But even as the Eagles came on strong with what Gbaja-Biamila called a "very legit" offer, he knew his heart was in Green Bay.

"I just wanted to weigh my options," he said. "(The Eagles) wanted me to come and visit their facility to give it a chance ... I'm the kind of person that likes to see every angle and not to see any stone unturned.

"That's the kind of guy I am and that's how I make decisions. And it all led back, when it was all said and done, to the Green Bay Packers."

GM/Head Coach Sherman admitted that there moments of "angst" while the Packers tried to strike a deal with KGB, but said they had more to do with the length of the contract than with other teams' offers.

"We felt pretty confident that we would match any offer," Sherman said. "I felt confident that he liked it here, that it would not be an issue ... He's as much a Green Bay Packer as anybody, and I felt good about that part of it, as long as we could meet his demands."

Getting KGB to sign a long-term deal took convincing.

"Mike Sherman strongly wanted me to consider a multi-year (contract), and I was hammering a one-year deal," Gbaja-Biamila said. "Mike Sherman conveyed to me that he really wants me to be here, to retire here, that we came in together and he wants to finish together."

From an inauspicious beginning, Gbaja-Biamila has become a franchise player.

In 2002 he got his chance to become a starter and every-down player and passed the test. He played 80 percent of the team's snaps, more than any other member of the defensive line.

"He has improved dramatically," Sherman said. "I think the thing that identifies him as a football player is his extraordinary effort, play after play."

Which is certainly better than that first impression.

"I would like to say I don't remember it, but I do," a laughing Sherman said of the 2000 practice in which Gbaja-Biamila was late reporting to his position on special teams.

"I probably overreacted. As he ran out there to fill his position, I just said: 'Just keep running.' He ran right up the tunnel and into the locker room. He's come a long way since then."

And he won't be going anywhere for quite some time.

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