GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Growing up in Arizona, football of a different kind was his first love.
“I played soccer as well and I really like soccer,” says Packers’ linebacker Blake Martinez. “And that was like my main thing that I love to play, love to play pick up stuff whether at recess or with my buddies.”
But as Blake Martinez grew older, his father’s influence with American football was literally too big to ignore.
“My dad was a big-time football player in high school and stuff like that until he tore his knee up his senior year. And so kind of as I was growing up he was kind of nudging me that way, and I was always the bigger kid, bigger than everyone else. So I ended up slowly easing my way into it, and then once I like started being good at football, I started liking it more.”
The majority of NFL players with Hispanic heritage have been kickers or punters, and Martinez admits, there were times he felt he stuck out a little bit.
“Once I went to football it was kind of…I didn’t see a lot of people like me, but for the most part, it was just kind of me, and I think when I was younger I didn’t really realize it, but as I get older I started to kind of think like hey. there’s not many Martinez or those types of last names or ethnicity in the game.”
And the journey to becoming one of the best linebackers in the league has been more than rewarding.
“No matter what ethnicity you are, where you’re from, what situation you’re in, you can always find a way to achieve your goals. And to see kids, Hispanic kids having my jersey, people coming up to me, it’s just so special to me because I feel like when I was a kid, when players came up to me and did those type of things, players that look like me I always felt that motivation of I could do this, if he could do this, I can.”