Packers’ Kenny Clark hopes to still deliver Christmas gifts to kids after thieves steal $5,000 in toys
GREEN BAY — Kenny Clark shook his head. He couldn’t believe anyone would do such a thing.
After a year of collecting toys to deliver to underprivileged kids in his hometown, the Green Bay Packers defensive tackle learned Thursday that someone had broken into the storage shed in which his mother, Leslie, had kept the Christmas presents that were supposed to be delivered to children throughout the San Bernardino, California, area. The theft came on the eve of when Leslie and Clark’s marketing team were going to deliver the presents.
“We had bikes, all kinds of toys, a lot of people had donated a lot of stuff to us. It’s just messed up. It’s for a bunch of kids, man,” Clark said Thursday. “It’s difficult, especially for my family and my mom. It’s really difficult for her because she worked so hard throughout the whole year putting it together. It’s a messed-up situation.
“You work so hard and you’re trying to do something good for the community and somebody does something crazy like that. The good thing is the toy drive’s still going to go on. We still have a lot of stuff coming in today that was supposed to come in, that’s the good thing. But it definitely hit my mom hard — especially because they did all the work and they love seeing the kids happy.”
This was the second annual toy drive spearheaded by Clark, the Packers’ 2016 first-round pick from UCLA who was nominated earlier this year by the Packers for the NFL’s prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his off-the-field work.
Clark’s marketing team set up a GoFundMe page Thursday to try to recoup some of the losses, and Clark’s agent, Jerome Stanley, said gift cards to Walmart and Target can be sent to 13595 Copley Dr., Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 91739.
Clark said there were surveillance cameras on the storage shed, so he’s hopeful the perpetrators will be identified and caught. Toys were still set to be distributed at the 16th Street Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Bernardino on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a shame,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who is from Southern California and learned of the theft from his mother. “There’s no moral code or anything. Especially with those gifts and who they were going to, it’s unfortunate. There’s some scumbag people out there. You’d like to think that people are better than that.
“I’ll probably talk with Kenny and see if there’s anything I can do, we can do, to hopefully get these kids some gifts. With only a few days before Christmas, that’s terrible.”
Making his pitch
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has said repeatedly this season that he isn’t the general manager or the head coach — a refrain he clearly adopted after he criticized offseason decisions by the team to cut ties with veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson and not bring quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt back for another season.
But Rodgers clearly was trying to lobby for the team to bring back wide receiver Randall Cobb, who is set to be a free agent after the season. Asked about how many tall receivers the team now has on the roster with the addition of 6-foot-5 Allen Lazard — the Packers’ shortest receivers on the roster are now the 5-10 Cobb and 6-1 Davante Adams — Rodgers responded with a pitch to keep Cobb on the team, reiterating what he’d said after last Sunday’s loss in Chicago.
Equanimeous St. Brown and Lazard are 6-5; Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Jake Kumerow are 6-4; and J’Mon Moore and Geronimo Allison, who is on injured reserve, are 6-3. Trevor Davis, who is also on IR, is listed at 6-1.
“I wouldn’t mind to see 5-9, 5-10, 5-11, 6-foot (receivers), if they’re quick guys and return guys. That’s maybe what we’re missing in that group this year,” Rodgers said. “When Trevor was really going, the type of return man that he is, (that) is a spot we need to make sure we’ve got that guy every single year. And then when you have tall guys, you’ve got to find if any of them can play inside.
“That’s what I said after the game: We’re a better football team when Randall Cobb is on the field because he is the best slot guy that we have, and until somebody can jump up and beat him out of that spot, he needs to be in there making plays for us — hopefully for years to come.”
Running back Jamaal Williams (toe) was limited in practice for the second straight day but interim head coach Joe Philbin downplayed any concerns about his availability for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, with Aaron Jones on IR with a knee injury. “He’s going to be a big part of the game plan,” Philbin said. … Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day and has a chance to play after missing the past two games. … Guard Lucas Patrick and punter JK Scott were back practicing in full after missing Wednesday due to illness. … Cobb and backup right tackle Jason Spriggs remained in the concussion protocol and did not practice.