The outbreak of the Douglas Messenger was not a coincidence

It’s unlikely that Packer’s fans had heard of Douglas’ messenger before October 6 last year. That’s when Green Bay signed the cornerback from the Arizona Cardinals coaching team. The Packers were in desperate need of help in the position after both starters, Jair Alexander and Kevin King, both fell for injuries. And at the time, it seemed like a desperate signature.

After all, Douglas was the definition of a journeyman player. He shipped in and out of four different NFL teams in 2021 alone before coming to Green Bay. He wasn’t expected to play much. More emergency stop gap. In the sixth week, the coaching staff started Isaac Yidom in a corner in front of the Bears team. It was clear early on that Yedom was not ready. With little to lose, the coaches put Douglas in his place.

The rest is an unlikely date. Douglas continued to play so well that he was selected as a substitute for the Pro Bowl at the end of the season. He led the team with five interceptions, two of them came back for relegation. Another massively saved victory in Arizona. He was named League Defensive Player of the Week after a dominant performance against the Rams. So good that the Packers used a lot of the money they saved by trading Davante Adams to re-sign Douglas to a three-year, $21 million contract.

How did this happen? who is this guy? Did it come out of nowhere or what?

In fact, Messenger Douglas isn’t the obscure, rag-to-riches player you might think he is. He grew up in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended East Orange Camps High School, which was popular before Douglas came along, and that was the mother school for pop singers Janice Ian and Dionne Warwick. As of last year, enrollment was 90 percent African American, and 8 percent Hispanic. Unable to secure a college football scholarship from a major school, Douglas went to Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, where he immediately began making headlines by accumulating 83 tackles and five picks.

This put him on the radar for a handful of big football schools. He ended up moving to West Virginia. As a senior, he led the nation in eight ball interceptions, accumulated 70 tackles and sacks, and was the first senior team 12. His only negative was speed, scoring just 4.6 on collection.

Messenger rough diamonds are not tolerated. He was taken in the third round by the Eagles, which meant he was expected to be an eventual key player, if not a superstar. He ended up playing in fourteen games, with five starts, in the junior season for the Eagles that won the Super Bowl that year. He would play in every game for the next two seasons, starting with thirteen, but in September of 2020 he was waived in the final round of the Eagles’ roster cuts.

One day he was on vacation. Carolina Panthers called him right away. He started 11 games in 2020, with nine defensive passes and 62 tackles. The Panthers decided to go in another direction after the season, which began a frustrating journey through the 2021 season that included layoffs with the Raiders, Texans and finally the Cardinals. Everyone seemed to want him, but no one would give him a chance to play. That, until Brian Gutkunst arrived in October.

So you see, Douglas’ stunning performance in the package last fall shouldn’t come as an unexpected shock. He was a five-year veteran who started 29 NFL games and played in 60 of them. And he has something that only three other current Packers have: a Super Bowl episode. (The others are Aaron Rodgers, Mason Crosby, and Sammy Watkins)

When asked if he could believe his success last season, the soft jersey kid simply said “I can. I’m working hard. In the end it pays off.”

to reach $7 million a year. The most encouraging news for Green and Gold fans is that there is every reason to believe Douglas’ big season has not been a fluke. It’s a proven talent. He was good enough to start five games as a rookie for the Super Bowl. Every time he got a chance to play, he did really well. There is no tangible reason, other than injury, for him to stop playing. Pairing in high school with all-pros Jair Alexander and rising star Eric Stokes, I love Rasul’s chances of getting another highly unlikely season.