The moment Eddie Lacy steps into the Republic Chophouse, he beams. He cracks up in a scratchy, southern "heh-heh-heh!" bellow.

Rays from this 70-degree day in Green Bay don't break through the dim, quaint restaurant in downtown Green Bay. Yet Lacy, those pink and turquoise "RECK-LESS" letters glistening on his shirt, pumps in the electricity. Walking toward a booth in the back corner, he clearly just signed his rookie contract or won a lifetime supply of cheese curds.

And yet, it's a mirage, an illusion.

The Green Bay Packers' new running back is not truly happy, fulfilled. That alluring smile masks an emptiness Lacy cannot quite explain. He isn't sure if he'll be happy, how to be happy. National titles at Alabama didn't do it. Getting drafted into the NFL was a relief, a blessing, not much more. A legion of fans worshipping at his altar in college? Lacy shrugs.

Then, he points to 2005.

That year, Hurricane Katrina bashed through the levees and swallowed Lacy's home in Gretna, La. The cookie-cutter narrative is that a tragedy made Lacy tougher, wiser, fully equipped to take on the world with the blunt force of a lowered right shoulder. And to a degree — on the football field — that's true. He learned to "run angry." Football became Lacy's sanctuary.

But to Lacy, touchdowns and championships and celebrity have been Advil fixes to an illness with no cure. At least Lacy hasn't found the cure yet.

He's searching. He's hopeful.

He's here in Green Bay to find out.

At dinner, Lacy pours a layer of A1 sauce over his 16-ounce boneless ribeye. The appetizer, bacon-covered scallops, was devoured in record time. Lacy never ate scallops before, but when he heard "bacon" from the waitress he was all in. This size, this deceptive mass, is what the Packers coveted. Lacy's built like a bouncer, moves like a midfielder.

Green Bay invested a second-round pick in Lacy to resuscitate its torpid running game.

And this 22-year-old has no clue when he'll find every human being's No. 1 goal in life — true happiness.

Will he ever find pre-2005 bliss again? Lacy looks to his left, then to his right toward an empty booth. Candles are lit, his hands clasped.