9

May

The Ugly Truth Behind The NFL Concussion Battle

Dr. Elliot Pellman

Dr. Elliot Pellman's research is at the center of the NFL Concussion legal battle.

As I sat down at my computer this week with some desperately needed free time on my hands, I was all set to begin an article depicting the NFL as a gigantic scapegoat in the recent concussion lawsuits being filed against them. It just didn’t make sense to me. These players knowingly and willingly participated in a contact sport where injuries occurred on a regular basis. Not only that, they reveled in delivering big hits on their opponents.

Should they not bear the responsibility of their actions? After all, if a knee injury could leave a lasting effect on your life, it would only make sense that repeated trauma to the head (and brain) could do the same thing. It would be like a boxer suing someone else for injuries they sustained in the ring. They made their choice.

Then I started do my research. I knew I didn’t have the whole story, and my better judgment told me I should at least understand exactly what the former players were charging the NFL with.

Let me tell you first that it wasn’t easy to find the information I was looking for, and I still haven’t exhausted all my searches. If you ask me, part of my own previous ignorance about the situation stems from a lack of details presented by the major media outlets. I sifted through dozens of articles naming the players involved in filing these lawsuits, but few if any of them actually explained the claims against the NFL. The only thing I knew was that it had something to do with concussions.

And then I started to find some trails of gold.

The first big nugget I stumbled across was the blog site NFL Concussion Litigation. It’s publisher, Paul D. Anderson, is a recent graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, where he focused on Sports Law, Class Actions, Labor & Employment Law, and Business Litigation. His purpose, according to the site, is to provide “up-to-date coverage and legal analysis of the lawsuits filed by former NFL players against the NFL regarding its alleged concealment of the risks associated with concussions.”

6

January

Packers’ Reggie McKenzie To Be Named Oakland Raiders GM

 

McKenzie appears headed to Oakland to be the Raiders new GM.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Oakland Raiders are planning to hire Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie as their next general manager.

McKenzie has long been rumored as a leading candidate for the job after Raiders owner and GM Al Davis passed away this fall. The two sides had reportedly been in contact this week, as McKenzie received a high recommendation from former Packers GM Ron Wolf for the job. Wolf has been assisting the Raiders in the search for new GM, along with former Raiders coach John Madden and Ken Herock.

McKenzie has served 18 years in the Packers personnel department, including the last four in his current capacity. He joined the Packers in 1994 as a pro personnel assistant and was later promoted to director of personnel in 1997.

McKenzie took over for John Schneider in May of 2008 as director of football operations after Schneider left to become the Seattle Seahawks general manager.

A former linebacker, McKenzie was drafted in the 10th by the Wolf-run Raiders in 1985 and played four years in Oakland. After two years in Phoenix with the Cardinals and another in San Francisco, McKenzie was out of the NFL. In 1993, he joined Phillip Fulmer’s coaching staff at his former alma mater in Tennessee. A later year, he landed in Green Bay in his first front office job.

McKenzie will land at a job that currently lacks draft capital, as current Raiders coach Hue Jackson doled out a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in ’13 for quarterback Carson Palmer before the trading deadline in October. As it stands before compensatory picks, the Raiders’ first pick next April would come in the fifth round.

A potential replacement for McKenzie could be Elliot Wolf, Ron’s son and currently the Packers assistant director of player personnel. NFL.com reported earlier in the week that he may be a candidate to leave with McKenzie to Oakland. John Dorsey, the Packers director of college scouting, turned down an offer to interview for the Indianapolis Colts’ GM opening and could also be a candidate.

——————

Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

29

November

The Packers, Sports Shock Jocks And You: A Survival Guide….And A Call To Arms

All right, that does it.

I tried ignoring it, but the more and more I read Twitter the more frustrated I am getting. I’ve been taking the high road on this and will continue to by not using his real name. He doesn’t deserve all the attention he is getting.

Who am I talking about? A certain sports shock jock on ESPN.  Since I’m withholding his real name, I will call him Jump Shoremore. Think about it.  He’s the guy trying to undermine Aaron Rodgers every time the mute on his microphone is accidentally turned off.

Packer Nation, it’s time to take a chill pill and face reality: the closer the Packers get to an undefeated season, the more amped up the media coverage will be.  If you think things are bad now, wait until Week 17 should the Packers be 15-0 at that point.

That said, I beg you all to do this regarding the aforementioned ESPN jock: Ignore. Him.

I know it’s tough. He’s attempting to torpedo our quarterback.   As fans we naturally surround the player and defend him from these kinds of things and fire shots back at the attacker.   It’s the natural thing to do, so I can’t blame fans for reacting the way they are.

But it’s time fans realize they aren’t helping fix the problem. They’re actually making it worse.

Journalists are used to taking flak for what they report.  This goes back all the way to the advent of print journalism and then broadcast journalism.  Everyone has an opinion and it is impossible to please everyone.    It comes with the job.

Things are much different today, however.  Thanks to the 24 hour news cycle and the rise of social media, journalists are given a much larger platform and have much more power and influence that they did just one short decade ago.

Some use this responsibly and have enhanced their careers because of it and others abuse it just to stir up trouble and piss people off.  The ESPN shock jock definitely falls into the latter category.

In fact, I’d say he is the epitome of an industry that has gotten out of control.  An industry that has become more about flash and pageantry than it has about substance.  To make matters worse, his network seems to be encouraging it!

21

September

Week 3 Packers Stock Report: Starks and Raji on the Rise, Walden Falling

James Starks enters the rising category in the Packers Week 3 stock report.

Welcome to the Week 3 Packers stock report, an idea so popular that Bill Simmons and ESPN stole it. Everyone at AllGreenBayPackers.com is pleased to provide content ideas to ESPN as long as we are properly compensated. I’m sure the higher-ups at the Worldwide Leader are cutting a check to Jersey Al right now.

Speaking of copy cats, it’ll be interesting to see how long offensive coordinators have success copying the Saints and Panthers offensive game plans against the Packers. Drew Brees and Cam Newton racked up 851 passing yards on the Packers in the first two weeks, mainly by utilizing the TE, dumping passes to RBs that sneak away from pass protection, and mixing in bombs down the field.

That’s cause for concern, but I still think the defense will be fine for several reasons:

  • The Packers have played over half of the young season without Tramon Williams, their best cover corner. If he returns and QBs continue completing passes at will, then I’ll worry.
  • Yes, the Packers are giving up too many yards, but they’re getting sacks, turnovers and preventing TDs in the red zone — all things you need to do to be considered a good defense in today’s NFL.
  • B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and Williams are legit studs. Not many defenses have four legit studs that can cover up other weaknesses.

The injury to Nick Collins doesn’t help matters, but there’s a reason the Packers signed Charlie Peprah to an extension. He stepped up last year and needs to do it again.

This is the first stock report without Aaron Rodgers in the rising category. Rodgers played well against the Panthers, but not well enough to earn another spot in the rising category. Donald Driver gets a spot this week just because he’s Donald Driver.

The Packers stock report welcomes James Jones back to the falling category. Erik Walden also joins the ranks of the falling, along with a special appearance from Fox’s NFL coverage.

Rising

James Starks
It’s time to turn the keys of the Packers running game over to James Starks and let him drive. Ryan Grant has looked decent coming back from a serious ankle injury, but Starks is by far the better RB right now. I’m not saying Mike McCarthy and Rodgers should call 35 runs every game, but both need to do a better job of sensing when Starks and the OL are hot and playcall accordingly. Rodgers seems to recognize this as well.

11

August

From the Mouth of Jermichael Finley: Packers Should Score Every Time

NFL general managers, coaches and the majority of players give the most boring interviews in all of sports. Because football is run by multi-billionaires and is the most mainstream sport in America, the league and its teams spend a lot of money trying to control their message and ruffle as few feathers as possible when communicating through the media.

That’s why I love Jermichael Finley. Green Bay’s fourth-year TE apparently was absent when Packers PR staff provided media training to players and covered such topics as Cliches 101 and How to Say the Same Boring Stuff Over and Over Again.

Finley just says whatever is on his mind, and it’s great. For some reason, certain fans get upset when players are honest. I get that there’s a fine line between being honest and being dumb, but I don’t understand why some fans would prefer a player to just shut up instead of actually telling us what’s on his mind (even if whatever is on his mind might be dumb).

Actually, it probably has nothing to do with being honest or dumb. It’s more about being genuine. I think Finley is genuine, and that’s a good thing.

Here are some of Finely’s best quotes from the last couple of weeks along with my thoughts on each one:

Finley spoke to Ricardo Arguello of the Appleton Post Crescent on July 23 about returning after the lockout:

“”The longer the lockout, the better conditioning and shape I’ll come back in. My thing is to come back and show the Packers I’m ready to go….(The lockout) has actually helped me, to tell you the truth.”

I like that Finley feels he still has to show the Packers he’s ready to go. We all know Finley is talented (and Finley knows he’s talented), but he’s never played a full 16 games in his career. It’s good to know he’s not expecting to come back and be featured in the offense without proving he’s healthy and can play at a high level.

Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee spoke to Finley about numerous topics on July 15, one of which concerned Finley lining up as a receiver:

“Standing up, I think that’s the best position for me,” he said. Asked if the coaches are comfortable with that, Finley replied, “They’re going to be comfortable with it.”

22

July

NFL Lockout Update: Owners Ratify Proposal, Players Wonder What Just Happened

It’s 11 p.m. central time on Thursday night and I’m going to watch some Japanese wrestling and go to bed. Before doing that, however, I thought I would provide a quick summary on the NFL labor front for those of you that were smarter than me and chose to not pay attention to the kerfuffle that developed Thursday evening.

If you’re reading this in the morning, there’s a decent chance something else could have occurred overnight. You probably should check out Profootballtalk.com or follow Aaron Nagler on Twitter for the latest. Both of those guys will likely spend the night monitoring the situation instead of watching Japanese wrestling.

Here’s what went down:

  • The owners voted 31-0 to approve a 10-year labor deal and gave the players until Tuesday to reform as a union and accept it. The Oakland Raiders abstained from voting because they probably realize they will go 6-10 and could care less if there is a season or not.
  • The players said they never had a chance to review the proposal and accused the owners of trying to force a deal. Many people were expecting the players to vote on some sort of proposal Thursday, but they didn’t because the players claimed to not know for sure what exactly the owner’s passed.
  • ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reported around 10:45 p.m. that the players eventually received all the details of the owners proposal and a vote could come as early as Friday. Will a vote actually happen? Who knows.
  • My take: I think one of two things happened. 1) The owner’s got sick of the player’s dilly dallying around about re-certifying as a union and other less-significant issues delaying the process and decided to approve a proposal and force the players to act in a more timely fashion. 2) The owners made a last-minute power play.
  • My other take: I’m fairly confident this thing wraps up soon. Once the players calm down and actually review what the owners proposed, I can’t imagine it being so incredibly bad that it would derail the entire process. Sure the players are probably offended that the owner’s publicly put the ball in their court, but they’ll get over it (I hope).
2

February

Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Hype: Just Enjoy it While You Can

Enjoy all the Packers' talk while it lasts. Soon all we'll be hearing about is an NFL lockout.

Normally I tune out all the Super Bowl hype about three days before the actual game, but this week I wish life had a pause button so Super Bowl week could last as long as I wanted it to. The Green Bay Packers are in the Super Bowl and I am soaking up every single interview, feature story and TV segment about my favorite team.

I’ve noticed a few Tweets already expressing fatigue from all the Super Bowl hoopla, and it’s only Tuesday. C’mon people! Enjoy this! Do you really want to go back to the real world so quickly? The real world means sports coverage that consists of midseason NBA trade talk and debating who will be the Yankees setup man. I don’t know about all of you, but I’d much rather hear about the Packers in the Super Bowl for 24 hours each day.

I was 14 the last time the Packers were in the Super Bowl. Obviously, I remember everything about the game, but I don’t remember much about the buildup. I wasn’t able to process or comprehend just how amazing having your favorite team in the Super Bowl is because I was only 14 (and the Internet, Twitter and 300 ESPN channels weren’t readily accessible yet).

Now I have Twitter running in the background at work and the NFL Network to complement a smorgasboard of ESPN networks. Every time I look at my computer screen I’m seeing Tweets about the Packers and the Super Bowl. When I get home at night I turn on the TV and watch people talking to or about Packers players — in HD, on a big screen — while I eat dinner. Before bed I wind down by reading an endless amount of features, op-eds and blog posts about the Packers in the Super Bowl. I enjoy all of it.

To be fair, it’s been a crazy week at work. When I get home, I haven’t had much energy to do anything else besides catch up on the Packers. Today we even had diversity training at the office. Diversity training during Packers Super Bowl week is torture. It’s what Hell must be like. Perhaps if I wasn’t so busy during the day, I wouldn’t feel the need to immerse myself in Packers coverage when I get home. But I doubt it.