It’s been 11 months since Jarius Wynn won Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers and had his second son born on the very same day.
“He’s growing like a weed every day,” said the former Lincoln County and Georgia defensive end. “He even says ‘touchdown’ right now.”
Wynn named his son Jarius Jr., even though it seems like a namesake born on the same day his father wins a Super Bowl should have a Roman numeral II instead. Wynn just calls him “Little Champ.”
“It definitely was a dream,” Wynn said of the momentous events of Feb. 6, 2011. “My dream was always to go into the NFL, but going to the Super Bowl was a whole ’nother level. Hopefully it happens again this year. No new kids though.”
Wynn and the 15-1 Packers are the favorite to repeat as world champions. Earning homefield advantage at frigid Lambeau Field has made Green Bay the team to beat, starting with a threat from the New York Giants today.
Anything less than another Super Bowl would be considered a failure at this point.
“I gotta say we’ve gotta get there,” said Wynn. “You play this game to get to the Super Bowl. With this team we’ve got, we should be in there each and every year. I want to keep a humble head, but that is the goal. We got homefield advantage this year. Last time we were fighting to get in the playoffs. It’s pretty exciting right now. Hopefully everything will work out like it’s supposed to.”
The only setback for the Packers this season was an upset loss at Kansas City after Green Bay had raced to a 13-0 record. It cost them a chance to join the 1972 Dolphins as the only undefeated teams in NFL history.
“I gotta say it did hurt,” Wynn said of the lone loss. “We had made the playoffs. Coach (Mike McCarthy) addressed that and said this is what we’re going for now. To let him down and the Packer organization and nation down, it was tough. But we got the loss out of the way and now we’re searching for greatness.”
It’s been a more comfortable quest in many ways for Wynn. Before the 2010 campaign, Wynn was cut by the Packers on the eve of the regular season only to be called back a week later because of injuries. This year he began the year on the roster and started three of the first five games. He’s since reverted back into his role as a pass-rushing end in the nickle defense, but Wynn continues to work for more playing time.
“I’m not satisfied, but I’m happy to be in this position,” he said. “I’m gonna work hard each and every day to keep a starting job here. I’m definitely going to keep fighting for it.”
Hard work has been bred into Wynn since he was growing up in Lincolnton. His father is a brick mason, and he put his son to work in the hot Georgia summers starting when he was 12.
“I couldn’t do that all my life – this is not for me,” Wynn said. “ But I gotta say he showed me you’ve got to go to work if you want money in your pocket. My daddy always tells me if you work hard it will pay off at the end of the day. ‘The cream always rises to the top,’ he says. I think about that all the time.”
Wynn – who has tattoos of his parents and his oldest son, Jeremiah, 4 – is proof positive of that.
After winning state titles at Lincoln County, he had to work hard for two seasons at Georgia Military College to advance to Georgia. He had to work hard to eventually become a starter for the Bulldogs and become a sixth round pick by the Packers in 2009.
“So I’m still working hard today and it’s paying off for me,” he said.
Wynn is trying to make his mark beyond the football field. He gives his time to the Big Brothers organization and recently joined a group to help fight pancreatic cancer.
“I want people to know me for good things,” he said. “I just want to be an all-around good person.”
Wynn also enjoys connecting with his fans on Twitter, even making a new friend through the social media forum who took him rabbit hunting for the first time during the NFL’s wild-card weekend. He identifies himself with the hashtag #WYNNING that corresponds to the “Always Wynning” T-shirts you can buy on his Web site jariuswynn.com.
“It’s just about life,” he said of his adopted slogan. “Anything you do through life you want to win at and be the best at. Sometimes you fail but always keep a smile on your face and try to keep going.”
For now, Wynn just hopes to keep going all the way back to the Super Bowl to earn another ring. It starts today with the Giants.
“Every team is dangerous right now,” he said. “We’ve just got to play like we’ve been playing and ball out. Preparation meets opportunity. When you’re chances come you’ve got to make those plays.”