Who among us doesn’t enjoy a nice burn on a division rival? I know even I am not above such things. So when I say something that former Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said, I had to get a bit of a laugh out of it.
Originally a third-round pick in 2014 for Cleveland, he has spent his entire career up to this point with the Browns, though injuries have limited him to just nine games over the course of the past two seasons, including just two games this past year.
The team decided to release him—while also letting Joe Schobert go in free agency, turning the position over to the young players—and he turned around and left the conference entirely, ultimately agreeing to terms on a contract with the Green Bay Packers.
Though Green Bay has had some ups and downs, things appear to be back on track after they won 14 games, and reached the AFC Championship Game last year. It helped that Aaron Rodgers was able to stay healthy, but changing head coaches was a part of that as well.
“I’m excited to be a part of that. I was revved up because I’ve never been a part of that”, he told reporters in Green Bay recently, about being on a winning team. The Browns seemingly barely managed to win 14 games during the six years Kirksey was in Cleveland.
It’s worth pointing out that he will only be turning 28 at the end of August, so it’s not as though he is on his last legs. He’s just had some unfortunate injuries in recent years, but obviously the Packers felt good enough about where he is from a health standpoint to sign him to a contract.
It does help that the Packers’ defensive coordinator is Mike Pettine, who was actually the Browns’ head coach during Kirksey’s first two seasons in the league in 2014 and 2015. They did manage to go 7-9 in one of those seasons. In fact, they were 7-5 before dropping the final four games.
Cleveland did post a record of 7-8-1 in 2018, even if they took a bit of a backslide last year at 6-10, but expectations are back up, with many predicting that they will post a winning record and reach the postseason for the first time in over a decade.
At this point, their former linebacker couldn’t care less. He’s on a team now that has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, and not just right now, but for years to come, hoping that they also just drafted their successor to Rodgers in Apriil.