Packers Q&A with Cole Madison

Bill Huber

Packer: Cole Madison

Number: 61

Position: Guard

College: Washington State

Draft: 2018, fifth round

Season: First

Age: 24

Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 308 pounds

Q: Can you tell me about your Saturday (team’s deadline to cut their rosters to 53) and the feeling of making the roster?

A: Oh, my God. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. Just waiting — hopefully not for a call — and then freak out every time my phone vibrated. Finally, 3 o’clock came around, and my agent texted me and said, ‘You’ve got a couple minutes left but I think you’re good, but I don’t want to jinx it.’ Of course, that freaked me out even more. Fifteen minutes go by and he gave me a call. Dramatic pause and then, ‘You’re in.’ My whole body went numb. Just great, especially looking back at where I was a year ago. It’s amazing. (Exhales) I’m just speechless. I still have no words. No words.

Q: I think a lot of people know your story and what a difficult period that was for you, starting with the death of Tyler. (Madison’s quarterback at Washington State, Tyler Hilinski, committed suicide in January 2018.)

A: This was before Tyler. Tyler, if anything, helped me with knowing that other people go through things, too. It was a little light at the end of the tunnel — light in a dark area. This stuff originated a long time before Tyler. If anything, when that happened, it was a first beginning step of a wakeup call for me, how I needed to handle my mental health after that entire situation. Me and him were great friends. I would have never known any of that was going on or vice-versa. I had my demons going on and no one had any idea what was going on. It’s just one of those things of taking that step when you’ve got those things and not to just bat them down and talk to someone and opening up. I had to go help myself before my football career. If I didn’t get my chickens in order back then, I don’t think I’d be here right now.

Q: So, you’re on the team. I’m sure that would have been a big deal regardless, because that was probably your dream growing up, but what does it mean in the context of what you’ve gone through?

A: I’ve got nothing but thanks for the Green Bay Packers and Gutey (general manager Brian Gutekunst) for their support during this time away and all the resources they gave me, and my family, too, and them being there for me, and all my friends. I wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t have made it here without them. It was a group effort. It took everything — my ability to get where I am mentally off the field and physically on the field. I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am for everybody who was with me during the past year. It means the world.

Q: How did you do it? You’re a great story but the Packers aren’t handing out roster spots for feel-good stories. So what did you do that won everybody over?

A: I came in and I controlled what I could control. I went out there and did what I had to do each day to get noticed. I guess I did that. It doesn’t end now. I’ve got to keep pushing forward, stacking days and wait for tomorrow. I’m just going day by day and keep getting better each day.

Q: You were a three-time all-conference pick at Washington State, so you were accustomed to playing high-level football. At what point did you start feeling like you were back to that form? Or are you not there yet?

A: This last preseason game that I played in — the Raiders game. I felt at home again, I felt good. I wasn’t going out there and freaked out in my mind. I was comfortable. I belonged there. I’m not saying that I wasn’t mentally prepared in previous games, but that last game, I felt like, ‘I can do this.’ The sky’s the limit.

Q: Then you missed the last preseason game against Kansas City with an ankle injury. Did that make you nervous?

A: Oh, yeah, no doubt. That was terrible timing, but those things happen. Just happy it ended how it did.

Q: Did this tell you that you made the right decision to return to football?

A: Oh yeah, no doubt. No doubt in my mind I made the right call on both fronts — stepping away and coming back. What can I say? I’m blessed.