GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels traded in his green-and-gold uniform in July for a white robe, a championship belt and a blonde wig that had to be taped to his head.
He’s a tough-as-nails defender on the football field, and a huge fan of Japanese animation off of it.
So much so that Daniels attended Comic-Con this year, joining other devotees of the annual pop culture convention by showing up in costume.
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”My first time there, and if it’s not during camp, I’ll be there again next year,” Daniels said. ”Yeah, I love it. I completely love it.”
Daniels donned the golden locks of the character “Raikage ,” from a Japanese animated series. He was a hit on social media after chronicling his time at the convention in San Diego.
”We already got a preview of Mike’s new look on headshot day,” the Packers posted on Twitter with an illustration of blonde hair drawn over Daniels’ usually closely shaven head.
But the picture couldn’t hide a menacing glare, the same look that Daniels usually sports on the field when he’s locking eyes with an offensive lineman just before a snap. Daniels, entering his sixth year in the NFL out of Iowa, provides an energetic and stabilizing presence up front.
He plays with an edge and likes to jaw with offensive linemen.
”Same way he was at Iowa,” said right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who played for two years in college with Daniels. ”He’s loud, he yells, he screams. That’s kind of Mike D … He’s an intense guy. He’s definitely a guy that has a strong voice – that defense listens to him.”
Daniels last week pointed to the attitude that the Seattle Seahawks show on defense as an example of practicing with intensity. Cornerback Richard Sherman, he said, ”had gotten some heat for bringing the attitude to practice.
”But there is no NFC, Super Bowl-winning team that had a, how you say, a pacifist-type defense. It’s just impossible. You’ll never see it,” Daniels said. ”You’ve got to have some guys with a renegade mentality who’ll go out there and they’re not afraid to teeter that line – not cross it, but teeter it – and put the offense on their heels.”
Daniels went on to add that the attitude is OK, as long the aggression and intensity is left on the field.
”There’s a place for verbal interaction or excitement or energy, definitely it’s part of it. But that’s not going to make you a good defense,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. ”They can scream and yell. They can not say anything.
”But when they cross the line it needs to show in our action and the tenacity in what they’re doing to the other guy,” McCarthy added.
But there is no doubt that McCarthy views Daniels as a defensive cornerstone. He loves his energy and passion for football.
”Oh yeah absolutely, how could you not?” McCarthy said. ”He’s exactly what you’re looking for.”
Outside of football, that energy is in part funneled into an interest in anime that dates back to when he was a kid. He spoke on a panel discussion at Comic-Con and posed for lots of pictures.
”I am the Raikage. I am also Mike Daniels of the Green Bay Packers. We are one and the same,” Daniels said on a video from Comic-Con . ”Embrace the fact that you are different. … Don’t think you’re alone. Embrace it. Love it.”