No one has eever accused Packers tackle David Bakhtiari of taking things too seriously, even the very solemn business of an NFL football game. So when Bakhtiari was out on the field for the opening snap of the 2023 season in Chicago, surrounded by a raucous crowd of 61,500, it should probably have come as no surprise that he took the opportunity to—ahem—salute the locals by using a single finger.
He then shared the photo on Instagram, and as it circulated around the web, it garnered more than a million views.
Of course, there is the chance it will draw the attention of the NFL along the way. The photo is reminiscent of the time, in 2011, when former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk celebrated a sack during a game by hoisting his middle finger at his teammates, something for which he apologized and characterized as part of a running joke. Hawk was dinged $10,000 because the gesture was caught on TV.
David Bakhtiari Was Sterling in Week 1
It’s only one week but Bakhtiari has already shown his worth to this Packers bunch, both with his attitude and approach to the game, as well as with his experience level. Bakhtiari is the oldest of the Packers at age 31, and will turn 32 at the end of the month. He and left guard Elgton Jenkins, who has been selected to two Pro Bowls in his career, are the backbone of the young Packers offense, and were critical to limiting the Bears to one sack in Week 1.
Because he has had three knee surgeries and has struggled to stay healthy in recent years—Bakhtiari has played just 24 games in the last three seasons combined before this one—the team is not asking Bakhtiari to practice every week as it does with the rest of the players.
He had not practiced for two weeks before Sunday’s opener, but still managed to post an 89.9 pass-blocking grade, tied for first, according to Rob Westerman of GBP Daily. He allowed zero quarterback pressures.
The practice break is a perk of being a veteran, especially one who needs some special handling to ensure he gets through all 17 games this season.
“It’s bittersweet,” Bakhtiari told The Athletic of his practice situation recently. “There are some days I definitely do enjoy it … But there is a part of me, there’s a grind you go through with the guys, and there is still like fun, like, ‘Man I am f***ing sore and beat to s***. I’m tired as f***, and I’m still locking you dudes down? And I’m old? Like, hell yeah.’ There’s like that other dynamic to it.”
David Bakhtiari Hams it Up
And if there is one thing that has never gotten old for Bakhtiari, it’s taunting the Bears and their fans. The Packers have now won nine straight games against their archrivals, by an average of 13.2 points.
Bakhtiari enjoyed himself throughout Sunday’s win. After wide receiver Romeo Doubs scored his second Green Bay touchdown, Bakhtiari went and sat fetchingly in front of some Bears fans who were giving him the one-fingered hand gesture, offering them a sort of pose.
And when Quay Walker registered a pick-6 that put the Packers ahead, 38-14, and sealed the game in the fourth quarter, Bakhtiari trotted on the field to offer a final bow. Full circle, of a sort.