16

February

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced this week that he will retire after the 2014 season. I’m not a Yankees fan and I usually root against the Bronx Bombers in the playoffs, but I always liked and respected Jeter.

Jeter was really good. He came across as a nice guy. He never got into legal trouble. He chased around beautiful women. And he projected an aura of coolness without coming across as overly arrogant. There really wasn’t anything to dislike about the guy.

As a Packers fan, what’s the closest comparison to Jeter in the NFL? What player caused the Packers a lot of grief over the years, but you still liked, respected, and even found yourself cheering for if he wasn’t playing the Packers?

Here are mine:

Barry Sanders
I don’t think you can call yourself a football fan if you didn’t enjoy watching Sanders. Yes, he had all the fancy footwork and juke and jive moves, but he would also put his head down and crash forward. An amazing spectacle on the field and a class act off of it.

Adrian Peterson
It’s absolutely terrorizing to watch Peterson manhandle the Packers defense. He’s a total mismatch for the light-hitting and reactionary Dom Capers D. But man, everything about Peterson just screams football. He’s the perfect package of grace, grit, explosiveness, elusiveness, resiliency and toughness.

Charles “Peanut” Tillman
It’s maddening to watch Tillman punch the ball out and force fumbles against the Packers. It’s a thing of beauty when he does it to other teams. Tillman has forced 40 fumbles in his 10-year career, including a mind-boggling 10 in 2012.

Larry Allen
This one is kind of obscure, but I always respected the Cowboys offensive line during their glory years and Allen was an absolute monster paving the way for Emmitt Smith. Allen could bench 705 pounds, squat 905 and became a hall-of-famer in 2013. He’s not the first player that comes to mind when thinking about players that gave the Packers trouble, but he deserves to be on the list.

Let me know who makes your list in the comments section.

Packers news, notes and links

7

July

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Do you ever wonder if the marketing machines behind professional sports franchises make fans stupid? Or are professional sports fans already stupid, and the marketing machines give fans exactly what they’re asking for?

I was thinking about this while covering the Yankees beating the Twins (yet again) earlier this week at Target Field. Between almost every pitch, the Twins blasted some type of music over the stadium sound system or tried to entice a chant out of fans by playing some other type of sound effect. During every between-inning break, something silly like kiss-cam or a dance-off party played on the stadium video board.

It’s like the Twins didn’t think their fans had the mental capacity or attention span to pay money to attend a baseball game and actually, you know, watch the baseball game. Part of the beauty of baseball is the downtime between pitches and breaks between innings. You can follow and enjoy baseball while still chatting with friends or explaining the game to your 10-year-old son or daughter.

It’s hard to do any of that with yet another T-shirt toss (shiny objects!) going on or a song (wow, noise!) playing that tries to coax the audience into participating in some sort of generic sing-a-long.

I’m picking on the Twins, but the Packers haven’t been much better in this area the last couple of seasons. I haven’t been going to Packers games for very long, but even from when I first started (2007) to now, I’ve noticed a drastic change.

During the playoff win over the Vikings last season, I don’t think 10 seconds went by without the Lambeau PA announcer screaming at fans to get loud, or some type of gimmicky chant/song was played over the sound system to entice people to do…something, I guess.

It shouldn’t be this way. There are plenty of sports fans who are fans of the actual sport and the game being played on the field…right? Or am I naive and out of touch? Do the fans who attend today’s sporting events — even Packers fans — need all of these silly bells and whistles that have nothing to do with the actual game to keep them entertained?

27

February

Packers News: Johnny Jolly to be reinstated by NFL

Packers DL Johnny Jolly

Packers DL Johnny Jolly

Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly has been reinstated by the league following a three-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Jolly was released from prison in May after serving six months of a six-year sentence on drug charges. After avoiding jail time following a similar charge in 2008, Jolly was arrested in October of 2011 and charged with possession of a narcotic compound containing codeine, which is a felony. He was already suspended by the NFL at the time of his arrest.

Jolly hasn’t played football since 2009, but the Packers could opt to bring him back to camp and compete for a roster spot. He was a restricted free agent at the time of his suspension, so Green Bay still holds his rights at the $2.5-million tender he received in 2010.

After being a two-year starter at Texas A&M, Jolly was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the Packers prior to being suspended.

Brian Carriveau of Cheesehead TV tweeted a picture of Jolly’s reinstatement letter, which the defensive end posted on Instagram. His article ran before other media outlets ran with the story, and the news became public.

Pete Dougherty, of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, confirmed the story on Wednesday evening via Twitter.

Before his suspension, Jolly was a solid starter for the Packers. His last season, 2009, was likely his best as a professional, in which he recorded a one sack and the only interception of his career off Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Now 30 years old, Jolly faces tough odds to return to football shape.

Green Bay has reportedly shown interest in signing 49ers defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois and Giants defensive end Chris Canty. With the availability of Jerel Worthy for 2013 up in the air, the Packers may be in the market for multiple defensive linemen, and there’s certainly a possibility that Jolly would be given a chance to make the roster.

 

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

17

June

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

Surviving Sunday with no Packers football.

Surviving Sunday with no Packers Football

It’s shorts season in Green Bay once again. That time of year when we read about some unlikely, unknown or underdog player that suddenly flashes a “ton of talent” and is the surprise of OTA or mini-camp practices. Media members, bloggers and fans get themselves all in a tizzy over the possibilities.

I first fell victim to this unrealistic euphoria in the summer of 2009, when this website was not even six months old. The object of my affection that summer was Jeremy Thompson, who while running around in shorts, had supposedly risen to the top of the depth chart at one of the OLB spots in the newly-instituted Dom Capers 3-4 defense. Thompson took the first snaps at the position, even before new first-round draft pick Clay Matthews. If you’d like a humorous stroll down OTA memory lane, you can read the article I wrote about Thompson at the time.

Once the pads came on in training camp, it became obvious the NFL-caliber skills were just not there. Thompson plummeted down the depth chart and saw very limited playing time in six games, recording one tackle. Then in December of 2009, he suffered an unfortunate career-ending neck injury.

The injury notwithstanding, Jeremy Thompson taught me a lesson that year: pay little attention to the unexpected “stars” of OTAs until a few weeks into training camp.

And that brings us to this week’s links, which are all about the players “making impresssions”  at OTAs.  The star of this year’s OTAs has supposedly has been Dezman Moses.  Moses and Terrell Manning were two linebackers mentioned to me as legitimate sleeper prospects by the head of NFL Scouting. The fact that the Packers got both of them excites me, but that’s as far as I’m taking it for now.

Without further ado, here are the best of this week’s Packers links:

From Ty Dunne at JSOnline .com, “Undrafted linebacker Dezman Moses impresses Packers.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN’s NFL North Blog devotes an entire column to the “rookie buzz” on  Packers #1 draft pick Nick Perry.

Texwestern over at AcmePackingCompany.com does a nice job summarizing the stroylines coming out of the first day of Packers OTAs.

Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee explores the new contact rules for OTAs and speaks with Mike McCarthy about where to draw the line.

22

February

Green Bay Packers Re-Sign TE Jermichael Finley with Two-Year Deal

According to several reports, the Green Bay Packers avoided any looming franchise tag battle by re-signing free agent tight end Jermichael Finley Wednesday with a two-year, $15 million deal.

Pro Football Talk first reported the agreement per a league source, and Finley confirmed the report through his Twitter account shortly thereafter.

Many have speculated that the Packers would be forced to use the franchise tag on Finley, who at 24 years old looked ready to command a top tight end salary on the open market if he remained unsigned by March 13. It was also widely assumed that Finley would argue for the receiver franchise tag tender, which is about $4 million more than what a tight end would receive from the tag in 2012.

This deal avoids any mess that a franchise tag battle could have created between the two sides.

With a two-year deal at around $7.5 million a year, the Packers might have gotten the best of both worlds.

While the money splits the franchise tag numbers for tight ends and receivers almost down the middle, a two-year deal allows Finley to show the Packers brass that he is worth a longer-term deal down the road. Finley will be just 26 years old when he re-enters free agency again in 2014.

An agreement between the Packers and Finley seemed far apart as recently as late last month, and some opined that no deal would come about between the two sides, especially after an inconsistent and sometimes frustrating 2011 season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it very clear after the season how big a cog Finley was in the Packers offense.

“He wants to be a great player and thinks he’s going to be a great player. With his talent level, that’s half the battle,” McCarthy said in his final press conference of the season. “I look for him to continuing to develop and establishing himself definitely as one of the (great) tight ends, Pro Bowl tight ends, in this league.”

Finley caught 55 passes for 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011 after missing 11 of the Packers 16 regular season games in 2010 with a knee injury.

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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.

24

February

According to Hobbes: Packers Offseason Primer – The Combine

“By the time you get to the draft, those names go back to the original place they were before we came to the combine, I swear it happens.” – Ted Thompson 2010

The reason why the Packers are the reigning Super Bowl Champions is undoubtedly because of the draft; Ted Thompson is notorious for ignoring “big name” free agency and instead focusing basically all of his efforts on (and after) the draft, So it only stands to reason that if you understand the draft a little better you will understand the Packers a little better.

With that in mind, the quote above stands out as a little odd; if Thompson was gonna marry the draft like we all think he would, why does he put so little emphasis on the first date so to speak?  Why is he basically saying that the combine is useless?  Personally I think he’s not actually talking about the value of the combine itself but rather the hype that the combine generates.  I’ve written about the effects of hype during the combine and during the draft here (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/381271-is-packers-gm-ted-thompson-right-after-all-part-two), and the potential disasters it can cause a team.

My initial impression was that outside of the physical, most of the numbers generated by the combine were basically irrelevant.  But if that were true, why does the NFL bother setting up the combine in the first place and why do all the teams show up?  Obviously there has to be some merit in drills or else all the teams would just show up for the physicals and the interviews and have lunch while the drills were being run.

I decided to look at the combine results from a different perspective, not as a place where to distinguish yourself as an elite player but as a place to show that you are suited to the Packer’s scheme.  For example in 2008 the Packers selected Jordy Nelson in the 2nd round while Desean Jackson was still on the board.  During the draft, Jackson was considered a better talent than Nelson and that’s probably only more true now than before as Jackson has become one of the premier burners in the league with the stats to match.