What can we say about John Allen Kuhn: two time Super Bowl champion, four time Pro Bowler, almost certainly the finest athlete ever to come out of Shippensburg University, chemist, environmentalist, protector, and friend of Number 12, all-around good guy, and inner circle member of the Marty Conlon Hall of Fame for Popular Wisconsin Athletes of a Certain Skin Tone.
I was tempted to write this entirely about the stupidity of attempting to gain one yard through use of a jumbo formation. To sacrifice all of your deception, game theory, and tactical advantages for the idea that if your 11 men line up and blow their opponents off the line that they just might retire from football having been rightly shown not to be manly enough to compete properly on the gridiron. The 1-yard jumbo formation plunge is a dreadful combination of confirmation bias (after all, getting one yard isn’t THAT hard no matter how you go about it, so you will succeed a fair amount), superstition (being good at getting a yard is like being good at closing a baseball game), and anti-coaching (everyone does it so how can it be wrong), and when I think of John Kuhn, this is, fundamentally what I think of.
The thing is, that does a terrible disservice to John Kuhn. I think of John Kuhn in this context because a coach told John Kuhn to run out there and do his best, and a bunch of people yelled his last name even though he failed a fair amount of the time at this one particular task, and it just so happens that failing in these situations is essentially a turnover. John Kuhn did not choose to go out there, and I’m sure he did try his best. What more can we ask of a player?
The fact is that people should have been yelling "KUUUHHHHN" from 2008 to 2013 or so whenever he stoned a middle linebacker or chipped a lineman out of a play (like on Aaron Rodgers' bomb to Randall Cobb to clinch the 2013 NFC North title). John Kuhn was, in his heyday, a very valuable passing down back. He was an adequate, if unspectacular safety valve with good hands, and he saved Aaron Rodgers' bacon plenty of times with exceptional blitz pickup and pass blocking. He was even a pretty good lead blocker on running downs. Kuhn was universally praised by the great unwashed for doing the gritty, little things while said unwashed ignored almost all of said little things, instead focusing on his supposed specialty.
I have a reputation for disliking John Kuhn immensely, but if we’re all being honest, my problem was actually with this sect of Packers fans. Well, with them and with Mike McCarthy. Really, it was with everyone except John Kuhn. Yes, it did get worse over the last few years as his actual valuable skills have eroded, and we all watched a team put a pathetic, injury-ravaged squad of wideouts on the field last year while carrying not one, but two fullbacks. Still, a lot of players stick around too long, and a lot of veterans are overrated on soft factors. John Kuhn is, in this way, no different than a lot of veterans.
So on this, the day of a (possible) end of an era for the Packers, let us remember the good, in-the-trenches work we got from ol' number 30. He was a valuable piece of a dominant team, he sold a lot of jerseys, and fans had more fun because of him.
Now to wrap up, here are some fun Kuhn facts.
- John Kuhn has more Super Bowl rings than Aaron Rodgers (he was on the Steelers' practice squad at the end of the 2005 season).
- Kuhn had 4 career playoff touchdowns, and a long run of 4 yards in a playoff game.
- In each of 2010, 2011, and 2012, he was targeted 18 times and caught 15 passes.
- His first reception was thrown by Charlie Batch.
- The 2010 Super Bowl Champion Packers gave John Kuhn the most carries of his career with 84, more than double any other season of his career.
- Over 198 regular season carries and 82 receptions, Kuhn fumbled 4 times. Over 19 postseason carries Kuhn fumbled 3 times. He fumbled kind of a lot.
- Kuhn had his longest pass play (32 yards) in the second quarter of a blowout loss to the GIants in 2012.
- Ah, but the longest rushing play of his career was an 18-yard burst against the Bears on 1st and 10 in the fourth quarter of a 2010 game while trailing 14-10.
- In 2013 he fielded a punt for some reason.
- If you ever find yourself feeling bad for John Kuhn, just remind yourself that over his 11-year career, he has made $13,218,015.