Packers staying close in offseason through charity work

By Ross Jones,

LAKESIDE, Calif. — As minicamps and OTAs come to a close, Green Bay Packers defensive end Ryan Pickett has decided to make a difference in his community while banding his team together. Pickett, joined by more than 10 of his teammates and other celebs, hit the links for a good cause on Saturday at Barona Creek Golf Course in Lakeside, Calif. The first annual Ryan Pickett Celebrity Golf Classic raised money to benefit kids from the foster care system through Casa De Amparo and the American Foundation of Counseling Services.

“My wife found an organization in Green Bay, this foster care system, and she started doing work with them,” Pickett said. “It captured our heart and grew from there.”

During the offseason, Pickett resides in Poway, a city in San Diego County, to regroup from anchoring Green Bay’s defensive line. Pickett’s passion for children stems from his own six kids — four daughters and two sons — who range from the age of 10 months to nine years old.

“It’s a great turnout for the first year,” said Pickett, who was joined by fellow Green Bay defensive players B.J. Raji, Casey Hayward, Jerel Worthy and Johnny Jolly. “I got all nervous about that because it’s the first year I’ve done it.”

Although time away from the team facility is needed to stay fresh, the Packers spent the weekend building on their camaraderie and strengthening their unity.

“We’re just trying to come out here and support our teammate and play a little golf in between,” Worthy said.

Spending time with teammates away from the football field is an underrated activity and can make a difference down the stretch of the season.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s first class,” Raji said of the event. “Last night with the dinner and the white party and the function for the charity, it was awesome. It’s a great scene. “

Green Bay’s roster was poached via free agency this offseason as the front office allowed some veterans to walk. Middle linebacker Desmond Bishop was deemed expendable last Monday, which surprised a couple players.

“Yeah, that kind of caught us off guard,” Pickett said. “Just playing around him for a while, I feel like Bishop is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. They have to make decisions sometimes, but it was tough because everybody loves him. He’s a great teammate.”

Since his release, Bishop has reportedly garnered interest from several teams and is expected to decide between the Chiefs, Vikings and Giants.

What about Donald Driver? The 14-year veteran receiver announced his retirement four months ago, but told FOX Sports Wisconsin last week that if the Packers came knocking, he would consider making a comeback.

“Yeah, we would love to have Driver back, absolutely,” Pickett said. “I think he still has something left in the tank. You never know. We’ll see what happens.”

Even without Driver’s leadership, the team looks to be in good hands.

Pickett, the longest-tenured Packer, has done a nice job bringing the group together and will likely have success doing the same when the team reports to training camp in late July.