GREEN BAY — It’s been nearly three years since Jayrone Elliott walked into the doors at Lambeau Field as a quiet and humble undrafted free agent from the University of Toledo.
The Packers linebacker kept his head down during his rookie season in 2014 and never got too high, even after a five-sack preseason earned him a place on the 53-man roster.
That mindset hasn’t changed despite the fact Elliott is now an established veteran with 38 NFL games under his belt.
Even today, he makes sure to tell Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy how much he appreciates coming to work every day whenever the two should pass in the hallway.
“Every time I see him, I tell him thank you for the opportunity,” said Elliott recently. “I’m truly blessed. I can’t really say nothing else about it.”
That opportunity to play professional football has been a “dream come true” and a life-altering experience for a kid from Cleveland who often was compared to Julius Peppers by kids around his block growing up.
For the last three seasons, Elliott has shared a position room with the nine-time Pro Bowler and taken the field alongside another one of his idols, Clay Matthews.
Elliott constantly reminds himself of where he came from and how he has reached this point in his life. It’s what drives him to give back, repaying a debt to all of the individuals who helped him to get where he is.
For his efforts, Elliott was the Packers’ nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award and bestowed the 2016 community service award at the annual Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce welcome-back luncheon last summer.
Furthermore, Elliott will be honored as the Packers’ recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award during the 39th annual ceremony next month in Baltimore.
“That's how I was brought up, just to give back and leave a place better than you found it,” Elliott said. “It makes me happy when I see kids smiling just from being able to talk to them, being able to give them gifts here and there, or just buying a kid a book bag.
“(I love) being able to make a kid's day or give them great advice that they can use down the road in the future.”
Since he arrived in Green Bay, Elliott has assisted in spending time at schools in the Green Bay metro area and promoting wellness in calibration with the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
He also was one of six current and former players that took part in the 2016 Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour, and he participated in the “GiveBack” Celebrity Bowling event that helped benefit the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Student Emergency Fund.
While Elliott says he was motivated to be more active over the past year, it’s always been natural to him to be active in whatever community he’s lived in.
He’s been active in the Boys & Girls Club back home in Cleveland and also was honored with Toledo’s community service award during his senior year with the Rockets in 2013.
“It’s a credit to my teammates. I just want to thank those guys for voting for those nominations,” said Elliott of his off-the-field accolades. “Everybody has a different personality. I just try to come in here and let my personality spread around.”
Elliott’s work isn’t done. He plans to keep giving back as much as he can for as long as he can. A restricted free agent, Elliott hopes that will again be with the Packers in 2017.
His third NFL season will go down as one of his most memorable. It seems like only yesterday he, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and linebacker Joe Thomas were sitting in his basement watching the Lions and Vikings play on Thanksgiving.
The Packers, who were 4-6 at the time, needed to rally to make the playoffs for an eighth straight season. They went well beyond that in advancing to the NFC Championship Game for the second time in Elliott’s three seasons.
“I love my brothers no matter what. We could be 0-12 or 12-0, I love them the same way,” Elliott said. “I never get down on my brothers no matter what happens in a game. At the end of the day, it’s football. I have this brotherhood forever.”