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Packers WR Walker coming to camp after all
Walker decides to report to training camp
'Tell everybody I'm coming in,' Packers wide receiver says at airport
By TOM SILVERSTEIN
Posted: July 27, 2005
Green Bay - Green Bay Packers wide receiver Javon Walker wasn't ready to discuss his reasons for arriving in town this evening for the official start of training camp, but he was willing to say this:
"Tell them I'm coming in," Walker told a Journal Sentinel reporter as he arrived at the Green Bay airport shortly after 5 p.m. "You can tell them that."
Up until Walker's arrival at Austin Straubel Airport, most in the Packers organization were under the impression he wasn't going to be present for the start of training camp. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told the Journal Sentinel a week ago that Walker would not be present when training camp started because he was unhappy with his contract.
Thus, Walker arrived at the airport in the National Football League's smallest market virtually unnoticed. Wearing a white throwback football jersey with brown stripes on the sleeves, a No. 13 on the back and the name "Marino" embroidered across his shoulders, Walker walked through the airport alone, hired a taxi outside and, after retrieving his bags inside, took off.
Even dressed in football garb, Walker, with a baseball cap pulled tightly over his eyes, seemed relatively inconspicuous and drew very little attention, in part because there were only a handful of people milling about the lower level of the airport.
Before he left, Walker spoke briefly about his intention to report to camp, but declined to discuss his reasons in detail. Three times Walker was asked directly whether he intended to report to camp and each time he answered affirmatively.
"Let them know I'm coming in," Walker said as he departed.
Asked if there was anything else he wanted to say about his return, he said, "No, that's it. Just tell everybody I'm coming in."
Veterans were due to report at camp at 7 p.m. for a team meeting. A team spokesman said that general manager Ted Thompson was unavailable for comment and wasn't planning on revealing which players were missing.
The team isn't scheduled to practice again until Friday morning at 8:45, but the medical staff will be conducting physicals and the conditioning staff will be putting players through physical testing.
Walker said he might address his situation on Thursday, but it's unclear whether the Packers will make him available to reporters. Rosenhaus, who was omnipresent in the media in the weeks leading up to training camp, did not return phone calls for a third straight day.
The Packers have been steadfast in refusing to renegotiate Walker's contract, which has two years left on it, and there's no indication they did or said anything that would lead Walker to believe they would change their mind. If Walker doesn't report, the Packers have the right to fine him $6,000 a day, which over the course of training camp would result in the loss of roughly $180,000.
Considering Walker is scheduled to make just $515,000 in base salary this season, he would be forfeiting a large chunk of his income. In addition, the Packers had the right to seek the return of half of Walker's $1.3 million option bonus paid in 2003, according to the provisions of his contract.
The Packers could still seek that amount if they choose because Walker technically violated his contract when he skipped a mandatory minicamp in April. To this point, the Packers haven't given any indication what steps they would take with Walker other than to fine him.
Walker made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, leading the Packers with 89 receptions for 1,328 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He hired Rosenhaus to represent him after the season in an attempt to get his contract renegotiated. Rosenhaus has received considerable national attention in recent weeks because two of his high-profile clients, Walker and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, both want new contracts even though their old ones have not expired.
He also represents Packers nose tackle Grady Jackson, who signed with Rosenhaus several weeks ago in an attempt to renegotiate the final year of his two-year, $2.31 million contract.
Rosenhaus first gained notoriety among Packers fans last off-season when he successfully forced the Packers' hand on trading cornerback Mike McKenzie.