Thursday, February 26, 2009

Packers try to keep their own

The Packers under GM Ted Thompson have always tried to retain their own valuable potential free agents rather than pull in outsiders. Them ya know is better than them ya don't...or something like that

That's why the Packers today issued qualifying tender offers to five of their own players: S Atari Bigby, CB Jarrett Bush, DE Jason Hunter, FB John Kuhn and WR Ruvell Martin. CB Tramon Williams, an exclusive-rights free agent, also was issued a one-year tender offer. Most of these offers are in the $1 million to $1.5 million range. Basically, the Packers reserve the right to match any offer each of these players might receive from another team by issuing these qualifying tenders. It's a preemptive strike before the free agency period begins at midnight tonight.

Who is on this list is as interesting as who isn't: WR Shaun Bodiford and TE Tory Humphrey. Bodiford is a player who always seemed to have a wealth of potential but he could never stay on the field; he's only played in six games over the last two seasons. Given that it would have cost the Pack a minimum of $1.01 million to continue to hope for that potential -- and given the depth of excellent receivers the Packers have on the squad already -- parting ways was the best option. As for Humphrey, his agent, Blake Baratz, is quoted as telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that "The Packers seem to want him back and he wants to come back." Baratz and the Packers have apparently already had discussions about Humphrey's return.

You can read the Packers' brief announcement about the tender offers here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's up with the Pack at the NFL Combine?

As any football fan knows, this is the time of year when we start dreaming. About young football players who can help transform our team. Especially if our team has a Top 10 draft pick. Which our team -- the Packers -- does. Number 9 to be exact. (For those of you old enough to remember, or enough of a music fan to get the reference, let's just say that, finally, Ringo Starr's prophetic statement came true: "number nine...number nine...").

So, with the NFL Combine going on in Indianapolis this weekend, what are the Packers up to? As you might well imagine, evaluating talent. Sitting at number 9 gives the Pack lots of options. According to some of the pundits, the top of this draft is deep on offensive possibilities, particularly offensive tackles. With LT Chad Clifton showing signs of wear and tear, and RT Mark Tauscher rehabbing from his season-ending knee injury, a tackle might be on the top of the Packers' list of needs. Although according to an article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "The top three left tackles in the National Football League draft won't be available for the Green Bay Packers to take with the No. 9 selection based on a Journal Sentinel poll of executives representing 25% of the league." That doesn't mean a good tackle isn't available, of course. Nor does it mean that's the way the Pack would go anyway. "Best available athlete" is usually the standard operating procedure.

So what other needs could be met? Obviously, with the Pack's move to the 3-4 defensive scheme, nose tackles and linebackers become positions of interest. Some believe the pickings are a bit slim in terms of nose tackle talent. As for linebackers, again, not a lot there at the top of the draft.

Would the Packers take a running back at number 9? Not with the seeming commitment they have to Ryan Grant. A back or two farther down the draft certainly is likely.

A few of the mock drafts out there still have the Pack selecting DB Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State. Mel Kiper said on ESPN the other day, without specific reference to the Packers, that Jenkins' draft position will depend upon his time in the 40-yard dash. A good 40 time would assure Jenkins of going in the top 10. (If you want to hear an interesting discussion of this issue, with specific mention of Jenkins and some others, check out Kiper's comments on ESPN radio here.)

So what will Packers GM Ted Thompson do with his pick? There's about nine weeks to go before the tuned. But in the meantime, you can read a lot of what's going on in this Combine blog from the Journal-Sentinel's Greg Bedard. Check out Mike McCarthy's comments especially for his thoughts related to personnel, the change in defensive scheme, etc.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Two Days On: Favre Still Retired...and Talking

OK, OK, I know that headline reference is getting old very quickly. Won't use it again. Well, probably not.

Anyway, ol' #4 -- Brett Favre -- gave his first extensive post-retirement on-air interview today on ESPN with that network's Ed Werder. Defintely worth watching. Even if he is wearing a Jets cap. Check it out right here, and settle in for about 15-20 minutes.

If you want to read about the interview and some of his quotes, check out the story here. Brett makes it clear in the interview he loved being a Packer and loves the fans, but also admits that he was angry at Packers' management last year because of the way he felt he was treated. Like we didn't already know that. Still, Brett appears much more reflective than perhaps we might expect. Perhaps we'll see him in Green Bay to retire that jersey sooner that initially thought.

Packers Fan Fest
The Packers will host their annual fan celebration, Packers Fan Fest, March 13-14.

According to an email from the Packers:
"For the popular autograph sessions, we've got a great lineup of our current players, including Atari Bigby, Nick Collins, Mason Crosby, Donald Driver, Ryan Grant, Al Harris, Cullen Jenkins, James Jones, Aaron Kampman and Ryan Pickett. And it's always great to see our alumni, with this year's group including Donny Anderson, LeRoy Butler, Willie Davis, William Henderson, Jerry Kramer, Dorsey Levens, Jan Stenerud, Frank Winters and Ron Wolf.

Fans also will be excited to meet our coaches, particularly new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his staff, at the Friday night meet-and-greet. On Saturday, the coaches' strategy sessions will be particularly interesting, especially when the "Defense 101" session discusses the new '3-4' defense the Packers will employ in 2009.

An attraction not to be overlooked is the exclusive tour through the team's locker room on Saturday. Fans can see behind-the-scenes areas not offered on the regular stadium tour. Also, admission to the Packers Hall of Fame is included as part of the event.

Tickets are available, and priced again at $85 per person. It's an event for the whole family, and kids 6 and younger enter free with a ticketed adult, so please bring along the young fans in your family. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster online, over the phone and in person."

For more info on purchasing tickets and a complete listing of Fan Fest activities, just click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

24 Hours Later: Favre Still Retired

It's now about 24 hours since the news broke that ol' #4, Brett Favre, announced his re-retirement. And the news is: he's still retired. But...didn't we hear that once before? Hmmm...

The general consensus among all the sports TV and radio pundits is that this time it just might stick. Why? Sure sounds as if Brett found out that his body was finally giving out after 18 years being the gunslinger.

You may recall reading comments after the end of the season that Jets' sources were strongly suggesting to Brett that if he wanted to return that he should have surgery to fix the elbow/shoulder problems which basically became very apparent down the season stretch. Brett just wasn't able to throw the ball with the zip and accuracy for which he was famous. And it didn't appear as if Brett was too anxious to go under the knife and re-hab just to essentially get one more year of play in to spite Packers' GM Ted Thompson. He'd already done that. Heck, in Favre's interview with ESPN's Ed Werder (see yesterday's post for link), he said that he really didn't care whether his stats were better than new Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, he just wanted to have the Jets win more games than the Packers. He succeeded in that latter goal. He got his personal revenge on Thompson that way, at least.

So, how are we going to know that Brett actually stays with his decision? As one Green Bay sports reporter noted, a clue will be as to whether Brett does decide to have surgery or not. If so, that might be a precursor to yet another comeback. How likely is that? Based on Favre's comments, this time it sounds like he might actually have realized it's time to hang up the cleats for good.

But we thought once before.

Judge for yourself. You can listen to a bit of Favre's teleconference below.

If you want to read Brett's retirement non-press conference comments, you can do so here. You can also see lots of links to lots of other related comments.

One of the better clips is a "burn" from sports guy Jim Rome about how Favre blew it with Green Bay, not vice versa. Watch for yourself.

Statement from the Packers
The Packers took a good portion of yesterday to come up with their official statement. It's short and sweet, which is probably for the best.
Congratulations to Brett on a remarkable career. The Packers organization wishes him and his family well. Brett always will hold a special place in Green Bay Packers history, and we remain committed to retiring his number at an appropriate time in the future.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Favre retires...again

According to breaking news from, ol' #4, Brett Favre, is reprising his role as a retired QB. ESPN is reporting that Favre told his agent, Bus Cook, to inform the Jets of his decision. Some TV reports were indicating that there had apparently been an initial informal feeler to see if the Jets would release Favre so that he could have the possibility of playing with another team, likely the ViQueens. The Jets denied that request, apparently. (Thank you, Jets.)

Of course, Brett couldn't resist apparently sticking it once again to the Packers. According to the report, "In an e-mail to ESPN's Ed Werder, Favre indicated that he had no regrets about leaving the game with the Jets rather than with his old team, the Green Bay Packers." Read the rest of the article to find out more about exactly how much spite Favre actually had and has toward Packers' GM Ted Thompson.

From the sounds of things, Favre will not be holding Retirement Press Conference - Part II.

There has as of yet been no official comment from either the Jets or the Packers about this news.

One might also expect, given the loathing which Favre holds for Thompson, that as long as Thompson is GM of the Pack there will probably not be any willingness on Favre's part to participate in any Packer-related events, number retirement ceremony, etc. Too bad Brett can't get let go, as it will do him far more harm in the long run than it will the Pack.

Read the story here.

Retirement Advice from other QBs
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran a great article several days ago in which it interviewed several former NFL QB greats regarding their transitions from the playing field to retirement, as well as any advice they might have for Brett.

In light of today's breaking news, you might find this article an interesting read. Check it out here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

What it was, was football

It's Super Bowl Sunday, one of the most hyped and overrated days in all of sports. The 43rd variation on the theme takes place later today in Tampa. Regrettably, the only connection today for Packer fans is in the name of the trophy: the Vince Lombardi Trophy. And, as even those who aren't major sports fans probably know, it's the Steelers vs. the Cardinals. All the prognosticators say the Steelers will win because of their tremendous defense. True, defense usually wins championships and the playbook says that if you get to Cardinals' QB Kurt Warner he can be rattled and make mistakes. But Philadelphia knew this two weeks ago. And still, Warner lit them up. This is a Cardinals team that has an explosive offense, got hot at the right time, and given its history is proof positive of the adage that even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

My head tells me the Steelers will indeed win because they are the better team. But the Cardinals have beaten better teams on the way to Tampa. I like the underdog. I won't predict a score. But I will be rooting for the Cardinals despite my long-standing appreciation for the Steelers. Let's just hope it's a good game throughout. I'm looking forward to seeing Springsteen at halftime and to putting on the 3D glasses for that commercial...yes, I entertain easily. But when the Packers aren't there to generate the real excitement, this is all we have left.

Let's put the game in perspective
Sometimes -- especially when something becomes just a bit overblown -- it's useful to view it from a fresh perspective. Nothing could do so better as regards football in general than Andy Griffith's famous monologue, from 1953 no less.

Here's audio of that famous bit, to which someone has also attached some animation. I'm also providing the transcript below for those who need a bit of help understanding Griffith's accentuated Carolina drawl. Enjoy!

What It Was, Was Football
It was back last October, I believe it was. We was a-goin’ t’ hold
a tent service in this college town.
And we got thar about dinnertime on Saturday And different ones
of us thought we ought to get us a mouthful to eat before
that we set up the tent.
And so, we got down off of the truck and followed this little bunch of
people through this small little bitty patch of woods.
And we come up on a big sign, says “Get somethin’ to eat here!”

And I went up and got me two hot dogs and a big Orange drink.
And before I could take ary mouthful of that food this whole raft of
people come up around me
and got me to where I couldn’t eat nothin’ up like—
and I dropped my big Orange drink. I did!

Well friends, they commenced to move and they wasn’t so much
I could do except to move with ‘em.
Well, we commenced to go through all kinds of doors and gates
and I don’t know what all, and I looked up over one of ‘em
and it says “North Gate”, and we kept on a-goin’ through there,
and pretty soon we come up on a young boy.
And he says “Ticket, please…” And I says “Friend, I don’t have a ticket.
I don’t even know where it is that I’m a-goin’.” I did!

Well he says “Come out as quick as you can.”
And I says “I’ll do ‘er—I’ll turn around the first chance I get.”
Well, we kept on a-movin’ through there and pretty soon everyone
got where it was that they was a’goin’ because they parted
and I could see pretty good. I could!

And what I seen was this whole raft a people a-settin’ on these
two banks and a-lookin’ at one another acrosst this purty little
green cow pasture! Well, they was! And somebody had took
and drawed white lines all over it and drove posts in it and
I don’t know what all! And I looked down there and I seen
five or six convicts a-runnin’ up and down and a-blowin’ whistles!
They was!

And then I looked down there and I seen these pretty girls
a-wearin’ these little bitty short dresses and a-dancin’ around,
an’ so I set down and thought I’d see what it was that was
a-gonna happen. I did!

And about the time I got set down good, I looked down there
and I seen thirty or forty men come a-runnin’ out of one end
of a great big outhouse down there! They did!
An’ everybody where I was a-settin’ got up and hollered!
And about that time thirty or forty come a-runnin out of the
other end of that outhouse and the other bank full—
THEY got up and hollered!
An’ I asked this feller that was a-settin’ beside me, I says
“Friend, what is it that they’re a-hollerin’ for?”
Well he whopped me on the back and he says
“Buddy, have a drink!”
Well, I says “I believe I will have another big Orange.”
An’ I got it and set back down.
An’ when I got back down there again, I seen that them men
had got in two little bitty bunches down there.
They had—real close together--and they voted! They did!

They voted and elected one man apiece.
And them two men come out in the middle of that cow pasture
and shook hands like they hadn’t seen one another in a long time.
And then a convict come over to where they was a-standin’ an’ he
took out a quarter and they commenced to odd-man right there!
They did!

Well, after a while I seen what it was that they was a-odd-mannin’ for.
It was that both bunches-full of them men wanted this funny-lookin’
little punkin to play with! They did, and I know friends that they
couldn’t-a eat it ‘ cause they kicked it the whole evenin’
and it never busted!

But anyhow what I was a-tellin’ was that both bunches-full wanted
that thang and one bunch got it an’ it made the other bunch
just as mad as they could be and friends I seen that evenin’
the awfullest fight that I’d ever seen in my life!
I did! They would run at one another and kick one another
and throw one another down and stomp on one another
and grind their feet in one another and I don’t know what all!
And just as fast as one would get hurt they’d tote him off
and run another’n on!

Well, they done that as long as I set there but pretty soon
this boy that had said “Ticket please…” he come up to me and
he says “Friend, you’re gonna have to leave because it is that
you don’t have a ticket.” And I says “Well, alright…” an’ I got up
an’ left. An’ I don’t know, friends, until this day what it was that they
was a-doin’ down there, but I have studied about it, and I think it’s
some kindly of a contest where they see which bunch-full of them
men can take that punkin an’ run from one end of that cow pasture
to the other’n without either gettin’ knocked down—
‘er steppin’ in somethin’ !