Walden’s status uncertain

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Associated Press
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
— After spending the weekend in jail, linebacker Erik Walden apologized to the Green Bay Packers organization, his teammates and fans on Tuesday in the wake of his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.

Walden did not discuss the specific circumstances that led to his arrest, saying only that he is cooperating with the legal process.

“I want to apologize to the entire organization, my teammates and the fans,” Walden said, speaking to a group of reporters crowded around his locker. “You know, it’s an ongoing process, I respect that process, and it’s just unfortunate that I brought something negative from so much positive that’s going on with this organization.”

Walden was arrested Friday on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend at their apartment near Green Bay.

Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski said Monday that Walden’s girlfriend originally told police they were arguing and he pushed her but she has changed her story to say she hit him first.

Asked if he could say anything to reassure fans about his character, Walden had few words.

“Again, I just want to apologize,” Walden said. “I feel terrible about the situation. Just ready to move on and play football.”

Walden’s status for Sunday’s game at the New York Giants remains unclear, and Walden says he “absolutely” is resigned to the possibility that he may not be allowed to play.

“You’ll have to talk to coach about that,” Walden said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the incident is under review.

Even if the league doesn’t take action against Walden right away, it is unclear if the Packers would sanction him themselves. Packers coach Mike McCarthy already has met with Walden and is scheduled to speak to reporters today.

Teammates generally expressed support for Walden.

“I think everyone’s just behind him on the team, supporting him,” right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “I don’t know much of the details of the whole thing.”

Linebacker Desmond Bishop said he didn’t think the situation would become a distraction for a team that is 11-0 after a Thanksgiving Day victory in a tense and emotionally charged game at NFC North rival Detroit.

“I don’t really think it’s that much of a distraction,” Bishop said. “With a team like ours, with strong-minded people, something like that is not going to get in our way from accomplishing our goal.”

Bulaga expects coaches to keep the team focused.

“They’ll be able to help out with things like this,” Bulaga said. “And that’s why this team has been so good getting past adversity, whether it’s injuries or whatnot, being able to move on just because of the great leadership.”

Walden, who played well after signing with the Packers in the middle of last season, has started all 11 games this year. He had a team-leading 10 tackles against the Lions on Thanksgiving.

The team flew back from Detroit after the game and players were home by Thursday evening.

Zakowski said the woman involved in the incident ultimately ended up with a head laceration from falling onto a bed’s headboard and was treated at a local hospital. He said it was unclear who called police.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, court was closed for the weekend and Walden stayed in jail. He was released Monday on a $1,000 signature bond following a hearing in Green Bay.

No formal charges have been filed, though prosecutors are still investigating. Zakowski said he needs more time to interview others to see if this is a case of miscommunication or if the woman is trying to protect Walden.

Walden is scheduled to return to court Dec. 7.

“I don’t know all the facts, so I don’t have an opinion on it,” guard T.J. Lang said. “But he definitely has the support of all his teammates here through all of his tough times. We’re going to be there for him, and support him as much as we can.”

Last updated: 6:49 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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