Linsley handled his own share of adversity in 2020. He battled a back injury early in the season before seeing his consecutive starts streak end at 68 regular-season games due to a knee injury that sidelined him for three December starts.
Yet, Linsley bounced back to finish the season on a high note. While he wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, Linsley received 18 first-place votes en route to becoming the first Packers center to be named first team All-Pro by the Associated Press since Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Ringo in 1963.
In the aftermath of the Pro Bowl snub, Bakhtiari and quarterback Aaron Rodgers were two of Linsley’s most adamant supporters in the lead-up to the All-Pro announcement.
“I know it meant a lot to him. How can it not? To be able to be recognized like that with All-Pro,” said Rodgers earlier this month.
“I mean Pro Bowl is a great recognition as well but there’s a big camp – led by David Bakhtiari – who believe that All-Pro might be more important. … I was just so excited for him to be given that honor. I know how much it means to him, you know he’s in a contract year and everything, and that’s important. But just knowing him and his lovely wife, Ana, he’s just a really good person.”
A fifth-round pick in 2014, Linsley has become a valued veteran presence in the locker room. This past spring, he was an instrumental part of the team’s social-justice initiatives.
Linsley also was honored for his longstanding partnership with CASA of Brown County when his teammates voted him as the Packers’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year. The winner of the award will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony the night before Super Bowl LV.
Although there are a lot of unknowns right now, Linsley looks back on the last seven years fondly. He’s enjoyed building a friendship with Rodgers that goes beyond the football field.
He cherishes the time spent with his two primary offensive line coaches, James Campen and Adam Stenavich, and appreciates all the laughs he’s shared inside the Packers’ locker room – many of which came courtesy of Bakhtiari.
“Just the funny stuff that happens day to day, half of it you can’t share and the other half you don’t want to. That’s what I’m going to remember,” said Linsley with a smile. “The wins in football and all that, it’s great, and it’s bittersweet because we didn’t get where we wanted to go. But the best times are just hanging out with the guys and laughing.”