12

June

A.J. Hawk, Dave Robinson honored at Lee Remmel banquet

Former Packers LB Dave Robinson

Former Packers LB Dave Robinson

At the 14th Lee Remmel Sports Awards Banquet on June 11–what would have been Vince Lombardi’s 100th birthday–Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and Lombardi-era star Dave Robinson each received an award for their achievements on and off the field.

Hawk was the recipient of the Professional Achievement Award. Since being selected No. 5 overall by the Packers in 2006, Hawk has proven to be a reliable piece of the defense, playing in 110 of a possible 112 regular season games in seven seasons.

“From the very first step off the plane, we realized that there’s something special here,” Hawk said. “Something is different, and it’s so unique.”

Off the field, Hawk has remained active in the community, serving as the spokesman for the Wisconsin Special Olympics. Hawk has also supported the Donald Driver Foundation, the Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer, the Greg Jennings Foundation, the Al Harris Outreach Program, and the 2nd & 7 Foundation, which is fellow Ohio State alum Mike Vrabel’s charity.

“I love being able to play football here, and I hope to do it for as long as possible,” Hawk said. “I hope to bring many more Super Bowls back to Green Bay. I got one, but sitting next to a guy like Dave, that’s nothing. He laughs at that.”

Hawk was a starter on the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team, whereas Robinson started for the Packers in Super Bowls I and II, which capped off an historic run of three consecutive World Championships.

While accepting the Distinguished Service Award, Robinson reminisced about the 1966 NFL Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys. With a berth in Super Bowl I on the line and facing a fourth-and-goal late in the fourth quarter, Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith was in Robinson’s grasp before his desperation pass was intercepted by Tom Brown. The Packers ran the clock out and won 34-27, punching their ticket to the first ever Super Bowl.

“Without that game, the Lombardi Trophy may very well be called the Landry Trophy,” Robinson said. “And that just makes me sick.”

In Robinson’s ten years in Green Bay, the Packers never lost to the Cowboys, with the exception of one exhibition game in Dallas. Robinson, a member of the 1960s All-Decade team, still questions the Cowboys’ “America’s Team” label.

4

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Is this a Super Bowl team?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

The 2012 season has been a roller-coaster for the Green Bay Packers.

From the early-season “Fail mary” in Seattle to the epic collapse in Indianapolis, the Packers have battled back to put themselves in contention for a second Super Bowl in three years. But is this team really Super Bowl-caliber?

The last time the Packers won the Super Bowl, they were decimated by injuries but Aaron Rodgers carried the team on his back all the way to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. It was a season to remember, and there are certainly some similarities between the 2010 Packers and this 2012 team.

In the Packers’ first preseason game, starting middle linebacker Desmond Bishop was lost for the season. After Clay Matthews, Bishop may be the Packers’ best defensive player. Second-year player D.J. Smith replaced Bishop in the starting lineup, but he suffered a season-ending injury in week six at Houston.

In total, the 2012 Packers have eight players on injured reserve, including this year’s first-round pick Nick Perry, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and starting running back Cedric Benson. Needless to say, the injury bug bit the Packers hard this season.

But through it all, the Packers won the division and played their way to the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

And now, this team is the healthiest its been since the regular season kicked off. Charles Woodson will return to the field this week after suffering a broken collarbone Oct. 21 in St. Louis. Randall Cobb will be back in the lineup as well, giving the Packers their full corps of wide receivers since week four.

Vegas has the Packers at 8/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. They have the third-best odds in the NFC, behind the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl.

Is this Packers team capable of winning Super Bowl XLVII?

In the format of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, let’s look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half full” or “half empty.”

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

While this team isn’t at full strength by any means, the team that takes the field Saturday night will be arguably the most talented 46-man roster the Packers have put on the field all season.

1

August

Dirty Birds: How The Philadelphia Eagles Have Set The Stage For A Packers Encore

Will the Eagles' new "Dream team" allow the Packers to fly under the radar?

While the Packers have gone about their usual ways of signing undrafted rookies and their own free agents, the Philadelphia Eagles have taken a different approach. In the blur that has been the first week of free agency since the lockout ended, the Eagles swooped in (pun intended) and gathered up many of the big name free agents of the 2011 class.  Nnmadi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins (that stings a little), Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young and Jason Babin are all new members of the team. NFL.com this morning already declared this a “dream team.”

My question to Reid, the Eagles and the NFL media is this: Have you learned nothing from the Miami Heat?

Yes, the Heat made it to the NBA Finals but they lost in six games which really is all that matters.  The Heat, with their “big three” lost to a team that was truly a better team than they were.

Sure, the Eagles added a lot of superstars but are they truly the best team in the NFC? My answer is no.

In fact, the Eagles have set the stage for the true best team in the NFC to fly under the radar and make a run at Super Bowl XLVI.  It just so happens that this team is the defending world champions.

Thanks to the big splashes made by the Eagles in free agency, the Packers are now in an ideal situation with everyone fawning and drooling over what Andy Reid and company have accomplished in such a short period of time.  As crazy as it sounds, the Packers now have the element of surprise in their corner and they are (it bears repeating) THE DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPIONS.

It’s obvious Packers coach Mike McCarthy will use the Eagles’ spending spree to his team’s advantage.  His team is suddenly yesterday’s news despite winning the Lombardi Trophy six months ago.  It’s rare that a team defending its title goes from hunted to the hunter, but that’s what the Green Bay Packers have become.

Aaron Rodgers and company must be salivating.  A few short months after having everyone sing his praises, Rodgers suddenly finds himself on the back page.  One would think the rest of the NFL should have learned by now what happens when you scorn Aaron Charles Rodgers but apparently they haven’t.

20

July

Dare To Be Great: Mike McCarthy’s Challenge In 2011

During his press conference after his Green Bay Packers–sans Aaron Rodgers–nearly upset the mighty New England Patriots in Foxboro, head coach Mike McCarthy uttered the phrase “we’re nobody’s underdog” to describe his team and that the Packers “came to win.”

McCarthy initially was mocked for the comments by many, but it turns out they served as a springboard for the Packers’ magical run to the Super Bowl XLV title. McCarthy and his staffed played the underdog card brilliantly and the Packers never looked back after that game.

So with the 2011 season upon us (I think), the Packers are about to embark on the defense of their throne.  They have gone from the hunters to the hunted which means the coaching staff has thrown the underdog card to the bottom of the deck.

This is McCarthy’s greatest challenge entering 2011.  The coach has spoken repeatedly about “handling success” as well as adversity.  We saw in 2010 how well his players respond to adversity, but how will they respond to having targets on their back?

Actually the Packers began last season as a chic pick for the Super Bowl, but as the season went on and injuries piled up, many people left the Packers for dead.   McCarthy played that into the “this is our time” theme throughout the postseason and into the Super Bowl.   It was a theme the players embraced and it showed as the Packers marched to Super Bowl XLV.

So what can McCarthy do for an encore?  Well, he really has to look no further than one of his predecessors.  While it is highly doubtful any team in the modern free-agency era will be able to duplicate the amount of championships in the same time span that Vince Lombardi’s Packers did, McCarthy could push his players to be the second Packers dynasty.

A way to approach that is that while winning one trophy is good, to be truly great you have to win two.  McCarthy could basically say to his players, “OK, you won one. You’re good. You want to be great? Go win another one.”  Winning two Super Bowls in a row is a tough feat to accomplish, but in order to truly be “great” you have to meet those kinds of challenges.

6

July

Brandon Underwood: No More Second Chances

Brandon Underwood is once again in trouble with the law after an alleged altercation with his wife, Brandie.

If you haven’t heard by now, Green Bay Packers cornerback Brandon Underwood is once again in trouble with Lady Justice. WLUK Fox 11 News in Northeast Wisconsin cracked the story yesterday of Underwood’s alleged altercation with his wife, Brandie, on June 16th, the night he and his teammates received their Super Bowl XLV Championship Rings.

According to Mrs. Underwood’s story, the two were having an argument that evening on their way home from the ring ceremony. Brandon Underwood allegedly became incensed over her wearing the Super Bowl necklace given to her by the Packers organization, then ripped it off her neck while still in their car.

Underwood was then said to have gotten out of the car, walked around to the passenger side door, and dragged Brandie from the vehicle before driving away. She immediately phoned the police, and Underwood was arrested upon his return.

The couple is reportedly going through a divorce.

This incident comes not long after Underwood was the center of attention in an alleged sexual assault case involving two women at a Wisconsin Dells hotel last year. Though nothing came of the women’s claims about the sex being forced on them, Underwood did enter a no-contest plea to one count of prostitution non-marital sexual intercourse last March.

He was fined $379.00 by a Sauk County judge.

Perhaps it is a fitting retribution, then, that the personification of the law is a woman, since Brandon Underwood finds it hard to stay out of trouble when around the opposite sex.

Though fans didn’t wholly condemn him for his previous entanglement with the law, it left Underwood on a short rope for many people. Some saw him as a victim of his celebrity status, while others – after hearing about his married status and two children – were disgusted with his infidelity. Despite his foolish behavior, there still wasn’t a lot of ado regarding his position with the team.

Yes, Underwood had to apologize for his actions in front of his teammates, and yes, it made McCarthy look a little bit foolish for some of his earlier compliments, but other than that, adultery wasn’t much to get too hung up about in the grand scheme of things.

2

July

No Workouts? No Problem For The Packers

Brothers Aaron and Jordan Rodgers work out together at Whole Body Fitness in their hometown of Chico, CA.

It’s become the big topic of debate during the lockout and it unfortunately involves the entire Green Bay Packers squad.

No, they haven’t gone on a cruise “Love Boat” style like the Minnesota Vikings did a few years ago. Rather, it’s a question about the Packers ON the field.

Why haven’t the Packer players held an informal team workout yet?

It’s a fair inquiry to make.  Most NFL teams have held some kind of group workouts involving a good chunk of the squad.  Yet the world champions have yet to do so with training camp possibly about a month away (assuming the lockout ends relatively soon).   This has not set well with many members of the media, including several former NFL players—namely former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

To them I say, relax. The Packers will be fine.  Just because a majority of league has had team workouts does not put Green Bay at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Where is the proof of this? First, one has to look no further than the Packers squad that won Super Bowl XLV.  The team enjoyed outstanding chemistry in the locker room which is remarkable given all the injuries the team suffered and having to bring in some players basically off the street.

These new players were welcomed into the fold by the veterans.  Erik Walden comes to mind in this situation.  Here is a guy that comes in literally off the street and in a matter of weeks has a monster game which helped propel the Packers into the postseason.   On some other teams, Walden would have been forced to pay his dues and let the established stars make all the plays.

Not in Green Bay, where players take joy and pleasure in each other’s accomplishments.  This Packers squad was a team in the truest sense of the word and with a vast majority of players coming back for 2011, there is no reason to believe that strong chemistry will not continue.  Mike McCarthy and his staff will see to that.

Speaking of McCarthy, he’s another reason why the Packers don’t necessarily need to hold informal team workouts.   When asked about workouts during the lockout, McCarthy continued to emphasize that he trusts his players and expects them to report to camp in shape whenever it begins.

29

June

Why the Fall of Brett Favre Started Much Sooner Than You Think

It may be like trying to piece together a train wreck you’d much rather not watch again, but given the Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV, I think we fans can revisit this without cringing too much.

It’s time once again to look at the disgraceful downfall of one Brett Lorenzo Favre. Yes, everyone has beaten the topic to death the past few years but one thing that has not truly been discussed was the exact moment when Favre’s downfall began.  Some say it was in 2005 with the hiring of Ted Thompson.  Others argue it happened with the firing of Mike Sherman in 2006.

I’d have to partially agree with those who mention Sherman, except they have it backwards. I’d argue Favre’s meltdown began when Sherman was HIRED in 2000.

Wind the clock back to that year if you will: Ray Rhodes had just been fired and Favre was coming off a 22 TD pass to 23 interceptions season after battling a bad thumb all season.  Keep in mind this was two years removed from the Packers trip to Super Bowl XXXII against the Broncos.  Favre experienced his first non-winning season of his career as well.

More than that, players and coaches from the Super Bowl teams had begun to move on. Mike Holmgren was in Seattle, Reggie White was in Carolina for one last season and best bud former tight end Mark Chmura was on trial for sexual assault.   Favre’s mentors and best friend were all gone.

Enter Mike Sherman.  He came in talking about the great history and tradition of the Packers and wanted to make sure his teams were established in the same mold. This was a theme Sherman constantly revisited during his time in Green Bay.

He also talked about Favre as one of the greatest ever and a true legend despite the quarterback barely being over the age of 30.  The overstuffing of Favre’s ego had begun.  Instead of saying that yes, he is great but he still needs to be smart like Mike McCarthy later did, Sherman only praised his quarterback and when question about Favre’s faults (like those interceptions), he just basically shrugged them off as “That’s just Brett.”

The seeds were planted.

The first few years of the Sherman era were productive with the Packers making the playoffs in 2001 after a two year absence and they won the NFC North in 2002.