(WFRV) – Playing in the NFL or becoming a studio recording musician is what kids dream of but for one former Green Bay Packer, it’s become a reality.
The Packers signed QB Manny Wilkins as an undrafted free agent in May of 2019. The Arizona State product had tons of success in college playing in the PAC-12. Getting the chance to learn from one of the greatest quarterbacks to play in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, it was an opportunity Wilkins will always be grateful for.
“I think his resume speaks for itself. He’s a very humble guy. I felt very welcome there. I made really good bonds there, relationships, friendships with people I still talk to today”, Wilkins says.
When Wilkins speaks of his time in Titletown, it’s nothing but love for cheeseheads.
“I loved Green Bay. I loved the staff, the organization. Very grateful for the opportunity that they gave me and yeah man, I’m blessed. Very blessed”, Wilkins explains.
Through football and Wilkins life, music has always been a big influence. He’s always felt inspired and it’s something he’s gravitated towards.
In April of 2020, Wilkins received the news from the Packers that he was getting released after drafting QB Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. It was a phone call from Head Coach Matt LaFleur during Wilkins’ exit meeting that meant a lot to the then 24-year-old QB.
“I got a call from Coach LaFleur and he was like ‘Hey man, wishing nothing but the best. For real though, what are you going to do with music? You really going to try and go get it because you have some good stuff'”, Wilkins explains. “I told him I’m really serious about it and you know, whatever is going to happen next, I’m ready for it.”
It was go time for Wilkins and take his love for music to the next level. Going under the artist name ‘5ive’, Wilkins has been recording music on the west coast for the last year and learning all facets of the music industry. As he’s living with rapper and producer ‘PartyNextDoor’, that experience has been inspirational.
“Being able to watch him (PartyNextDoor) daily, especially being in the studio with him and watching how his art is so – ugh. There is no words that can describe the level of attention and focus when he’s recording”, says Wilkins.
Being able to express feelings and talk about things that wouldn’t be talked about in conversations is what Wilkins has been able to do with music and he’s just looking to make a sound that hasn’t been heard before.
“It’s a way to express myself. It’s a way to talk about things that I don’t really talk about and things that I’ve been through and things that I’m going to go through. I’ve always had a passion for it. I’ve always loved it. Now with relationships and friendships I’ve built over the years, I have an opportunity to really lock in and try to create a sound that’s never been heard before. I’m in a position to do that and I’m around the right people that have given me the freedom to experiment and be myself and try to do that now through frequencies”, says Wilkins.
Even though Wilkins isn’t in Green Bay anymore, his voice hasn’t left the Packers locker room. Wilkins tells Local 5 that the whole team supports him and his music.
“I was talking with (Davante) the other day and he was telling me like ‘Yo, all year long we had everything playing in the locker room before games, before practice, and everything’. He said he got a big Jordan boombox when he signed his deal so they had it in the locker room playing all of the records”, Wilkins explains. “So yeah, they’re really supportive.”
Wilkins tells Local 5 that he has plans to release a new project soon and has a name in mind for the project. The roll out of the project and marketing is going to be key, he says and on point.
Wilkins is a firm believer that it’s very doable to play football and record music and if a NFL team calls his phone, he’ll be ready.
“My mindset has been very focused on music, to get great at this, and to hone in on it but, I do know that if my phone rings to go play football. That’s what I do. I’m only a year out”, Wilkins explains. “I’m just following my heart and where my mental takes me. Trusting my gut.”