In addition to serving as a productive backup to Ahman Green at halfback, Najeh Davenport developed into a top-level kickoff returner over the second half of the 2003 season.
In what he calls one of his best moments as a pro thus far, Davenport provided a huge momentum swing in a key 38-21 victory at San Diego (Dec. 14). Answering a 68-yard TD reception by LaDainian Tomlinson that gave the Chargers a 21-17 advantage early in the fourth quarter, Davenport returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the San Diego 42-yard line. The Packers scored a touchdown two plays later for a 24-21 lead it would not relinquish.
A sprinter on the University of Miami (Fla.) track squad for four years, on the football field Davenport was forced to split time with future high NFL draft picks Edgerrin James, James Jackson and Clinton Portis before moving to fullback on a permanent basis for the last year-and-a-half of his collegiate career.
Coming off a career-high 420-yard rushing season, Davenport recently met with Packers.com to sprint through these and a few other topics in our latest round of Random Questions.
Packers.com: Besides your own, what is the toughest position on the field to play?
Davenport: "I think guard. Playing guard you have to block a lot of different people and worry about a lot of different things. A lot of people say quarterback might be the hardest because you have to make a lot of reads and you have people in your face. With guard you have two guys right in front of your face and there's always a possibility that you or someone else gets beat and you have to help out with their player."
When did you realize that you wanted to play professional football?
"Probably when I was in 12th grade. I had a lot of success early and by the 12th grade everyone said that I could write my own ticket."
What is the greatest college football game you have ever seen?
"When I was a redshirt freshman, we played the No. 1 team in the nation, UCLA, and beat them, 49-45. I had eight carries for about 72 yards and Edgerrin James had 299 yards on about 20 carries."
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
"I'd like to go to Europe. I'd like to just take a train and go country to country."
What is the toughest part of your job?
"Probably blocking and picking up the blitz assignments, knowing who to block."
What is one word to describe training camp?
What is your favorite sports movie of all time?
"I would have to say The Program."
Besides the Super Bowl, if you could see any sporting event in the world, what would it be?
What is your best memory from last season?
"During the San Diego game, I ran a kickoff back to around the 40-yard line and we scored two plays later and won the game. That was a pretty good feeling to be able to help the team like that."
If you were going to the ESPYs, who would be your dream date?
"It would have to be Gabrielle Union."
If you could change one rule in the NFL, what would you change?
"The rule about having to wear long socks. If I had it my way, I would be out there with no socks."
In a movie about your life, who would play you?
"Me. I majored in theatre and had a part in a movie last year called Blood Money that starred Busta Rhymes. So I think I could handle playing myself pretty good."
What is your favorite video game?
"Madden. I like to play myself."
Who is your favorite comedian.
Do you have any superstitions?
"I like to repeat the same routine. And anytime I think about an injury or somebody mentions an injury, I knock on wood."
What's the worst job you ever had?
"During the summer after my sophomore year at Miami, I worked in a place called Power Brake. It's an auto mechanics store for 18-wheelers.
"My job was to stock the drums or rims for the trucks. I had to carry them up the ladder to the shelves and stack them on top of each other. They weighed a good 60 pounds. I would get there at 6:30 in the morning and work there until about 2:30. Actually, at about 2:25 I was out the door.
"Then I would go to the school and work out. It was pretty good money but it was like working out all day, every day. What made it even worse was the car I drove. It was an old Chevy. It had an air conditioner but it didn't really work that well. It was more like a fan blowing on you. And in case you didn't know, it gets pretty hot in Miami.
"I finally asked the owner if I could start driving trucks. Once I started doing that I got real lazy. And you know the AC was blowing then."
How was your adjustment to the Green Bay winters?
"It was rough. I got to the point where I would wake up, go out and start my car and then go back in and lay down for a few more minutes. Once I got to the stadium, I made sure to park about 10 yards from the locker room. Then I would just sprint to the door."