While many people believe that talent alone can translate into an NFL career, others think that a hard-working player will always have a shot at success. If anyone knows that these two theories can't stand by themselves, it's Aaron Kampman.
Sure, talent is great and hard work is always welcomed, but the Packers' 6-4, 284-pound defensive end knows that one characteristic without the other is useless. Kampman proves that only a healthy combination of the two will allow a player to reach his full potential.
Kampman has heard it all before. He knows people view him as a hard-working overachiever and someone that gets the most out of his ability based on his work ethic. He's also heard the blue-collar term throughout his college and three-year NFL career.
But that doesn't mean that there isn't more to Kampman's game than just hard work.
"There has been a lot mentioned about me being a blue-collar guy who relies on work ethic alone," Kampman said. "That used to bother me but someone who watches me play football knows that there's a lot more to me than just hard work and effort."
Call it want you want, but Kampman's resume speaks for itself. Growing up in Iowa, Kampman went on to star for his hometown Iowa Hawkeyes and eventually earned an All-Big Ten selection as a senior when he recorded nine sacks. The Packers selected him in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft and after being a solid contributor for two seasons, Kampman is now an NFL starter.
Certainly, Kampman's will to succeed as well as his work ethic made this all possible, but his talent made it a reality. Still, Kampman understands why people see a blue-collar worker and he doesn't mind it.
"However you are labeled or however you are identified you can't do anything about that," Kampman said. "All you can do is control what you do.
"I relish it (the blue-collar label) when it's seen in the right light. Because the fact of the matter is that a guy who gives a lot of effort, whether he has this, that or the other thing, that is what he is supposed to do. Everyone is supposed to give that type of effort and that's the key."
For Kampman, giving an NFL effort has never been a problem. He said his best moment on the field came in last year's playoffs when he led all teams with three sacks. According to Kampman, the key to his success was always believing in himself.
"When you have a lot of goals, you have to see yourself in those roles," Kampman said. "You have to see yourself being that type of person or that type of player. A lot of times there can be self-fulfilling prophecies where you believed in yourself and your ability and if God is willing, things work out."
Things certainly have worked out for Kampman, and he doesn't hesitate for a second when explaining how he made it this far.
"I got the work ethic from my parents," Kampman said. "My father Bob runs a self-employed lumberyard in the town where I grew up. So I did a lot of work when I was very young. My brothers and I did a lot of things -- carpentry work, putting away lumber, shingling, you name it.
"The work ethic was instilled in us. My dad got it from my grandpa and so on and so forth. That's just our way of life."
Another way of life that Kampman knows is kindness and generosity. One of the most active of the Packers players in the community, he has dedicated his time to speaking to a variety of school and youth groups as well as distributing food to needy families in Green Bay.
When Kampman hasn't been busy with those activities, he's also worked with the Salvation Army, Brown County Library and the March of Dimes. His wife, Linde, is also very active in the community as they both work with a high school youth group associated with Green Bay Community Church.
Kampman said it's always been important for him and Linde to give back to the community.
"My parents taught me, and Linde's parents taught her to try to help people," Kampman explained. "We happen to be in a position, especially here in Green Bay, to help a lot of folks or at least try to help them and it's something we both relish as a responsibility."
Despite all of this, you can forget about praising Kampman for his good deeds as a player and person because he insists it's not necessary.
"I believe that praise will come to you," Kampman said. "You don't have to necessarily promote yourself and I know it seems like that's the way to go, the self-promotion stuff, but I have a different philosophy. I play for different reasons.
"I have a God-given ability and my belief is a platform for what I do. All the other things really are secondary and can tie you up. That's why I try to keep my focus."
Given the way Kampman was brought up and his values today, it's also not surprising that he sees a lot of himself in the people that make up Green Bay.
"I see the blue-collar work ethic," Kampman said. "This town has a lot of people who understand what hard work is and they do that day in and day out. I just happen to do it in a high profile profession but it's the same thing, so that's why I feel like I fit in here."
Kampman acknowledged that Green Bay holds a special place for him and Linde, especially now that they have a son, Lucas, who was born in February.
"The birth of our son was definitely the highlight of our marriage and the best thing to happen to us from a family perspective," Kampman said. "For us, living in Green Bay right now is important in our lives because we are starting our family. The city is great and hopefully we are able to stay here for a long time."
Although Kampman feels fortunate to live and play in Green Bay, it's clear that he would fit in anywhere, not because of his success on the field, but rather for his greatness away from it.