2

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Foo

The WWE Network debuted on Monday and my wife immediately began filling out divorce papers.

I try to limit my classic wrestling viewing to the television in our room before bed or my iPad if I have a free minute or two in the living room. With WWE Network, I can now literally watch old (and new) wrestling whenever I want. On my phone, in the car, at church, during family dinners, or waiting to check out at the grocery story. Thousands of hours of wrestling footage is at my fingertips.

There is no way my wife is going to be able to deal with me watching wrestling when we’re supposed to be having a serious conversation about buying a new house or finding a good school for our kid.

While I’m reliving classic moments like this, my wife will be packing up her things and relocating as far away from me as possible.

I wonder if the NFL would ever give something like the WWE Network a try? On the surface, it makes sense that they would. But if you really think about it, you realize how silly the league would be to abandon the golden goose it currently has with its traditional television package.

In 2013, the WWE made about $168 million from its television deal. That’s a great deal for the networks that air WWE programming like Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, and not all that great of a deal for WWE.

Ninety-percent of WWE viewers watch shows like Raw and SmackDown live or less than a day after airing. That’s on par with professional sports like football or basketball. The majority of WWE viewership is also under 34 years old and ethnically diverse, two key components that prominent advertisers are looking for. Networks are also looking for more “DVR-proof” programming, or shows that are watched live instead of recorded and watched days or weeks later.

So why doesn’t the WWE have a more lucrative TV deal? Because it’s professional wrestling, duh! Nobody — especially fancy schmancy television executives and big corporate advertisers — has ever taken professional wrestling seriously. Sure, they might back-handedly acknowledge its solid track record of reliable TV ratings and a dedicated and loyal fanbase, but they’re not going to back it up with dollars.

12

March

Will John Kuhn Return to the Packers?

John Kuhn

My hunch is the Packers bring FB John Kuhn back in 2013.

Most of the offseason focus on Packers roster cuts has focused on Jermichael Finley and A.J. Hawk. Both of those players elicit strong reactions from Packers fans.

Mention Finley on a sports-talk radio show and the phones lines light up. Drop Hawk’s name in a blog post and the comments section gets heated in a hurry.

John Kuhn doesn’t move the needle like Finley or Hawk. Most Packers fans like Kuhn. They view Kuhn as an underdog who got where he is through toughness and hard work. They also like yelling “Kuuuuuuuhn!” whenever he touches the ball.

As well-liked as the fullback from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania is, however, there’s a chance his days in Green Bay could be over.

Kuhn is set to make $2.6 million in 2013. That’s a lot of money to pay a back in a passing offense who isn’t much of a threat to run, pick up short-yardage first downs or turn checkdown passes into big gains.

Kuhn played 39.2 percent of the Packers offensive snaps in 2012. Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade of 4.3 for the season, ranking him 12th among all fullbacks  (out of 25 that were graded)..

His blocking grade of 4.4 ranked him 16th and his running grade of -1.1 ranked 23rd.

Do those numbers merrit a $2.6 million salary? Probably not, but my hunch is Kuhn will be back unless the Packers could really use that extra $2.6 million to get the Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews contract extensions out of the way sooner rather than later.

I doubt Thompson is going to do much in free agency besides maybe a signing or two for depth. Thompson probably won’t need Kuhn’s cap space to sign free agents.

I also have a hunch that the Packers will head into 2013 with Evan Dietrich-Smith at center and Marshall Newhouse at left tackle. Either that or Dietrich-Smith at center, Bryan Bulaga at left tackle and Don Barclay at right tackle. Whichever combination happens to be the one, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are going to want a pass-blocking back who knows where to be and can get the job done.

30

May

The Green Bay Packers and the 2011 Salary Cap: What Ted Thompson Might be Thinking

Packers GM Ted Thompson might have to make some tough calls if the Packers are over the 2011 salary cap.

Brian Carriveau of Cheesehead TV raised an interesting question recently: How will a salary cap in 2011 impact the Green Bay Packers?

The Packers had one of the highest payrolls in the NFL last season. The new collective bargaining agreement likely will include a salary cap, which could require the Packers to trim payroll.

Of course, the Packers have people on staff whose main duties include managing payroll and maneuvering within the salary cap. The Packers probably would not have to purge half their roster like the Chicago Blackhawks did after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, but a few moves may be necessary.

Zach Kruse’s recent post examined possible cuts for the Packers in 2011. Lets expand on that a bit. If the Packers had to make cuts to fit under the salary cap, who could they spare? Of course, it would depend on several factors, but if Ted Thompson approached the issue using a categorized list, here is how I think that list might look.

Untouchable
Aaron Rodgers, QB
BJ Raji, NT
Charles Woodson, CB
Greg Jennings, WR
Clay Matthews, OLB
Josh Sitton, OG

These players should stay with the Packers no matter what. There is no way they should be cut. They should only be mentioned in trade talks if a team is dumb enough to propose a Herschel Walker to the Vikings type of deal (even that would not be good enough to get Rodgers).

I debated if Woodson and Sitton should be on the untouchable list, Woodson because he’s old and Sitton because he’s due for a mega contract after 2011. I kept Woodson in the untouchable category because even though he’s not the cover corner he once was, he does so many other things at a high level that I’m not sure how the Packers would replace him.

Sitton will probably get a megadeal sometime soon, which made me think Ted Thompson would listen to trade offers if someone called with the right deal. But you can never have enough elite talent protecting Rodgers, so Sitton makes the untouchables.

Keepers
Nick Collins, S
Tramon Williams, CB
Sam Shields, CB
Jermichael Finley, TE
Chad Clifton, LT

25

May

What if Rush Limbaugh Purchased the Minnesota Vikings?

Vikings' New Owner?

This post isn’t intended to spark a political debate, but Rush Limbaugh’s recent non-denial of his interest in purchasing the Minnesota Vikings got me thinking about political views and the NFL. Specifically, why would a conservative like Limbaugh want to buy into an entity like the NFL, which is kinda sorta organized like a mini socialist country?

Limbaugh spends hours on the radio every day imploring Americans to embrace capitalism, free enterprise and limited government. Every man should be free to make as much money as he wants without having a chunk of it taken by the government and redistributed to others. One of Limbaugh’s favorite themes is socialism fails every time.

But if Limbaugh purchases an NFL team, he would become part of an entity that:

  • Uses revenue sharing. Limbaugh’s head might explode the first time he has to cut a check to support the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills.
  • Enforces a salary cap. Americans should be free to earn as much as they want. Imagine if the radio industry instituted a salary cap and put a limit on how much Limbaugh could make!
  • Finances its facilities and operations with taxpayer dollars. Limbaugh thinks tax dollars should be used to defend our country, and very little else. Seeing him operate his business in a publicly financed facility would be…ironic, I guess.
  • Is overseen by a dictator. Roger Goodell can fine and punish players and change the rules during the season almost at will. Sounds very similar to the overreaching and intrusive style of government that Limbaugh deplores.
  • Uses a draft. In a capitalist society, shouldn’t we all be free to choose where we work? The NFL makes rookies go to the team that happens to draft them.

I’m being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but a strong case can be made that the NFL is so successful because it’s kinda sorta organized like a mini socialist country.

How would the league look without a salary cap? What would happen if rookies just went to the highest bidder? What if revenue sharing disappeared? Getting rid of all of these things would make the NFL fit better within conservative ideology, but it would probably damage the league.