GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers special-teams coach Ron Zook has a saying about kick returners: “Nobody comes out of the womb returning kicks.”
Zook should come up with something for long-snappers.
Perhaps it could be: “Nobody comes into the NFL as a long-snapper before working an odd job.”
The Packers’ newest snapper, Taybor Pepper, was running a cash register at his parents’ store that was part of the One Week Boutique consignment event in Champaign, Illinois, on Sunday. That’s when Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf called to offer him a job as Brett Goode‘s replacement. Goode popped a hamstring in Sunday’s game against the Bengals and was placed on injured reserve.
“Kind of like a lot of long-snapper stories you hear about,” said Pepper, who was with the Packers for less than a month during the offseason program before he was released.
Two years ago, the Packers signed Rick Lovato late in the season after Goode suffered a knee injury.
“Sandwich shop, right?” Pepper said.
That’s right. Lovato was making sandwiches at Joyce’s Subs and Pizza in Lincroft, New Jersey, when the Packers called in 2015. Lovato is still in the NFL, currently snapping for the Eagles.
“Two days before, I worked [the cash register] for seven hours, the day before I worked for six hours and then that night I worked for like two and I kept working until I figured out when my flight is,” Pepper said Monday at his Lambeau Field locker, two stalls down from where Aaron Rodgers dresses.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Pepper said glancing at Rodgers’ locker.
Pepper, who played at Michigan State, will make his NFL debut on Thursday night against the Bears at Lambeau Field. He was with the Ravens in the 2015 preseason. At least there’s some familiarity with Zook and Packers kicker Mason Crosby from his short stint in Green Bay this spring.
“We have history with Taybor Pepper,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “That’s the way we’ll move forward as we get ready for Chicago.”
The Packers cut Pepper in May and went with Derek Hart but ultimately re-signed Goode, their primary snapper since 2008, near the end of the preseason.
Since May, Pepper has worked out with his high school team in Michigan, went to minicamp with the Jaguars and had two separate workouts with the Patriots.
And of course, he ran the cash register at One Week Boutique.
It’s something Pepper has done since high school. He’s from Saline, Michigan, but twice a year his parents, Cam and Donna, set up their consignment store for a week in Illinois. This time it was at a rec center as part of One Week Boutique in Champaign, where Pepper said they sold “new and gently used kids clothes, toys, bouncy seats, car seats, strollers.”
The store closed on Monday, the day Pepper flew to Green Bay.
“They’ll be back [open] in April,” he said.