At five foot nine, Chris Banjo plays in a league dominated by players over six feet tall. Few people beyond the coaching staff of the Green Bay Packers know his name. Banjo started his stint with the Packers as just another player looking to land a spot on a team. However, he has proven over the past preseason games that he has enough speed and drive to play in the NFL. But the final decision rests on one key factor. His height. But Banjo should win the starting safety position, regardless of his height, for three different reasons.
First, Banjo should start as the safety because he is only five foot nine. General manager Ted Thompson has held to height requirements for defensive players since he took over from Ron Wolf. Thompson has broken his rule by using Banjo. Banjo recognizes that his height will be a factor and is willing to do what’s necessary to keep his opponents from getting the jump on him. That means playing smarter and faster then his opponents. Banjo came out of Southern Methodist University undrafted and is eager to prove himself as a legitimate contender, shorter than six feet tall or not. Critics have said that Banjo’s height is too much of a risk. The opposing QB’s will take advantage of the height mismatches too much. But the danger for those QB is underestimating Banjo abilities, which I am sure Banjo is counting on.
The second reason why Banjo should be given the starting positions is because he carries an enormous family burden with him, a burden that can be channeled into a healthy desire to succeed. After all, he promised. Banjo’s mother died of Sickle Cell Anemia when she was just 45 years old. But before his mother’s untimely death, Banjo promised his mother that he would take care of his siblings. Banjo doesn’t want to let his mother down.Banjo has said about his mother, "I know she's watching. I want to make her proud in everything that I do. That's a promise I still have to live up to." Banjo will work hard and make plays because that is what he is expected to do, but also he wants to make good on his promises.
Finally, Banjo does not take the enormous opportunity to play in the NFL lightly. “Thousands of people would kill to have this opportunity.” Banjo said. “So when I realize that, I play a little faster, a little harder and maximize my opportunities.” Banjo has in fact maximized his opportunities, racking up ten solo tackles in the past three games. If he is that productive in the past couple of games, what can he produce when it really matters? We can only know if Banjo is given the final safety position.
As far as a resume, Banjo has little to offer. His 321 tackles at SMU are impressive, but beyond that, Banjo can only offer is an enormous desire to succeed and prove himself a legitimate contender. Banjo should be awarded the starting safety position because he has proven through hard work and determination that he can in fact be an asset to the team, regardless of his lack of height. I look forward to watching him play this season.
By Catherine Solin