When Tarik Black got a chance to meet one of his favorite football players, he went easy on him.
“I told him, ‘I know were hurt a lot this past season, and so I don’t fault you this year,’” said Black.
Black, then a senior forward on the University of Kansas’ basketball team, was talking to Aaron Rodgers, who stopped by one of their shootarounds. Black can’t say exactly why or when growing up in Memphis, Tennessee he became a Green Bay fan, but “ever since I was in middle school, I’ve always been very fond of the Packers.” Which made what the Super Bowl winning quarterback told him pretty interesting.
“He was like, ‘how about you come out and help me [win a championship], let me throw you a few passes,’” Black told FOX 11 over the phone on Friday. “I was like, get me a contract and we can make it happen. We both laughed and went our separate ways and left it at that. I thought it was a joke.”
Black has the look of a tight end at 6’9 and 260 pounds (for comparison, fellow former basketball player Jimmy Graham, now a tight end of the Saints, is 6’7 and 265 pounds). Black went on thinking it was a joke until a person in the Kansas media relations department told him Rodgers had asked about Black. He got Rodgers’ cell phone number, though waited weeks if not months before a friend convinced him to send a message. He asked if Rodgers was serious.
“I was like, get me a contract and we can make it happen. I thought it was a joke.”
“He texted me back, and was like, ‘all of it’s true,’” said Black. “If I have to pull some strings on my end to get you up here and see what’s going on, see how you feel about it if you’re still interested in the offer.”
Rodgers put Black in touch with a Packers scout, whom he talked to on the phone. Several other NFL teams have expressed interest, including the Baltimore Ravens. Black says he doesn’t have any workouts scheduled with teams, and is amazed by the attention for a guy who never really played football.
“Never put anything out there about even wanting to play football,” said Black. “Out of nowhere you get the top quarterback in the NFL interested in you, also now some of the top teams in the NFL. It’s mind blowing-type stuff, and I’m just very humbled by it.”
Make no mistake, the goal is still to play professional basketball. Black started 15 games his senior season at Kansas after playing the first three seasons of his career at the University of Memphis. Black averaged 15 points per game during the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament run this year, scoring a game-high 18 in their loss to Stanford.
While a pro basketball career is the preference, football has a chance. Teams are calling, “there’s some genuine interest out there,” said Black. If a team wants him to workout, he’d be interested. Catching the former MVP’s eye, having him think you could perhaps play in the NFL, that carries some weight, too.
“There’s certain people that do certain things, they don’t really have to recruit,” said Black. “For instance, [Kansas] Coach [Bill] Self. You have 10 straight conference titles, one of the best coaches of the last 15-20 years, once you sit down in someone’s living room, it kind of works for itself. That’s like Aaron Rodgers telling you he’s interested in you. Aaron Rodgers’ name speaks for itself. Especially with me being a Packers fan, knowing the accolades and how good a quarterback he is, there’s not too much you have to say.”
Rodgers attended Kansas’ game in January against Oklahoma State. He told Sporting News seeing a game at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse was something he’d wanted to do for a long time.