He understood nothing between the F-bombs. All Jerron McMillian saw was left guard Josh Sitton shouting and pointing a finger toward his group — the defensive backs — so it was on. From the sideline in so many words the 203-pound safety all but challenged the 318-pound guard to fight. "I don't back down from anybody" McMillian said. "Regardless of who you are I'm here. Defense vs. offense I'm going to make sure my defense is good at the end of the day." McMillian hasn't shut up since. Through the first week of training camp — dreadlocks spilling from his helmet — the 24-year-old has been yapping nonstop. It's no accident either. This year McMillian planned to be a pest a pain. Playing to the whistle jawing in the ear hole of receivers dropping that dangerous right shoulder when possible it all fuels the second-year safety. This summer McMillian is trying to assert himself. He might be the player who gives Green Bay's secondary an edge a New Jersey-tough presence it has lacked. Talking trash McMillian is in his element. "It's part of the game" McMillian said. "If it brings out the extra attitude the competitiveness in somebody why not?" Tracking McMillian through a practice is exhausting. On one overthrown pass out of the end zone to tight end Jake Stoneburner — a completely benign nondescript play — McMillian screams "Come on man! (Expletive) too easy!" Minutes later he picks off a pass in 7-on-7 and leaps into a teammate's chest. During a blitz period he blasts into running backs with brutal blunt force. In coverage he yells at a tight end finishing his route. This off-season McMillian talked to defensive lineman Mike Daniels all about this while training in Green Bay. Both players decided to cuss to scold to shout as much as possible throughout practice. "We both made it our duty to bring that edge bring that attitude. Both of us" Daniels said. "We talked about it every day like 'We have to do it. Let's speak up. Let's step up.'...Be loudmouth jerks. Just bring it.'" And McMillian was built for such a vocal energizing role. Growing up in Hillside N.J. 15 minutes from hardscrabble Newark he was forced to fail on his own. Often. Without getting into details — "so many lessons so many lessons" — McMillian says he became a product of his environment. "It's rough man. It's rough" he said. "You have to be able to do things on your own. It's you and the environment you're living in and how you go about your business." Residents live "day to day." Everyone McMillian said "is just trying to find a way to survive" with crime and poverty running so high. From 2007-2011 26.1% of Newark lived below the poverty rate. So this is all more nurture than nature. McMillian's older brother Darian said peers always tested you in their neighborhood. On the playground. In pick-up basketball. Over time Darian said "There weren't many people who would mess with Jerron." McMillian developed a thick skin. He learned to talk tough. His favorite athlete? Kobe Bryant. The moment the Black Mamba made the jump from high school to the NBA his raw tenacity appealed to McMillian. Bryant was relentless unapologetically cruel. "You gotta have it in you" McMillian said. "There are no nice guys in this business. A few people can get away with it. But you have to be a warrior out here at the end of the day you know? It's you against them." McMillian does not retreat. In college when one fight broke out at a nightclub the safety intervened to help a friend and was charged with disorderly conduct. His coach at Maine Steven Vashel said the incident wasn't out of character because McMillian sticks up for himself — "he's not going to let himself be walked over." On the field Vashel said "He'll try to kill you. He'll try to take you out." So no the Packers don't plan on slowing McMillian down. As a safety himself in the pros Darren Perry rarely ever jousted with receivers. But he gets it. Within the rules the Packers safeties coach is perfectly fine with McMillian talking trash.
Packers' Jerron McMillian is talking trash, backing it up
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Aug 3