16

August

Donald Driver on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: Blah, blah, blah, blah

Donald Driver made no sense when talking about Aaron Rodgers’ leadership.

Normally I don’t care about off-the-field drama involving the Packers. I like talking and writing about football, not TMZ- or WWE-style storylines involving the Packers.

Unfortunately, Donald Driver decided to weigh in on the squabble between Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings and ended up piling onto the “Lets take shots at Rodgers’ leadership” bandwagon.

I don’t want to discuss what Driver (or Jennings) thinks of Rodgers’ leadership because I don’t care. I do want to address one thing Driver said because it was completely asinine. I’m all for players being honest and blunt in their comments — if you think Rodgers is a bad leader, fine, say so. But one thing Driver said wasn’t blunt, it was just dumb.

Once I’m done filleting Driver for the comment, I’ll go back to respecting him again. Everyone else should do the same. Driver’s a legend in Green Bay. Just ask him.

Driver on if Rodgers is a “me” guy:

We’ve always been in the room and we’ve always said that the quarterback is the one who needs to take the pressure off of everyone else. If a guy runs the wrong route, it’s easy for the quarterback to say, ‘Hey, I told him to run that route,’ than the guy to say, ‘Hey, I ran the wrong route.’ Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off those guys so we don’t look bad. He didn’t want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it. That’s the difference. You want that leadership. I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it.

Let’s say you’re a waitress. A group of four sits at one of your tables, orders drinks and food, and waits patiently for you to bring it out. Instead of bringing the group what they ordered, you drink all their drinks, eat all their food, and take a nap on the bathroom floor. When the group complains to the owner about what you did, the owner calls you and your manager into his office.

Is your manager a bad manager if he doesn’t take the fall and tell the owner that the only reason you ate all the customers’ food, drank their drinks and passed out in the bathroom is because he — as your manager, boss and leader — ordered you to do so?

2

December

An In-Depth Look at the Packers’ Don Barclay and Wrestling Jobbers

Don Barclay

Don Barclay, the Packers wrestling jobber.

There’s been some scuttle about the Packers moving T.J. Lang back to left guard and trying undrafted rookie Don Barclay at right tackle.

(Editor’s Note: This article was actually written before this week’s game against the Vikings but never appeared due to a scheduling issue.)

Lang has floundered since moving to tackle after Bryan Bulaga got hurt. Evan Dietrich-Smith hasn’t fared much better filling Lang’s slot at guard. Lang played well before the move, so perhaps moving him back to guard would solidify that spot and the Packers could focus most of their attention on helping Barclay.

Right now, it seems like the Packers have to worry about helping Lang, Dietrich-Smith and sometimes Marshall Newhouse. That’s not going to fly for much longer.

Anyway, I was going to do a post debating the pros and cons of trying Barclay at tackle, but writing about backup offensive lineman is boring.

Instead, I decided to write about my second favorite thing in the whole wide world (behind the Packers, of course): 1980s and 90s professional wrestling.

What’s a Jobber?
Those of you who listen to the radio show Green and Gold Today know that co-host Bill Johnson refers to Barclay as “everyone’s favorite wrestling jobber.” For those of you that don’t know what a wrestling jobber is, what is wrong with you? Actually, you should probably be proud of yourself if you don’t know what a wrestling jobber is.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, wrestling on TV often featured a well-known wrestler beating up a scrub in a match that lasted minute or two. It usually took the well-known wrestler longer to make his ring entrance than it took for him to win the actual match.

These scrubs were known as jobbers. The only purpose jobbers served was to get destroyed by the big-name guys. Doesn’t sound like a very glamourous way to earn a couple extra bucks, does it?

Jobbers were either too small or slightly overweight and were always dorky looking. They resembled insurance salesman or truck drivers more than jacked up professional wrestlers. On the surface, jobbers sound like complete wastes of space. But they served a purpose.

Jobbers existed to make the popular wrestlers look good. Every time people saw Jake “the Snake” Roberts DDT some poor jobber, pin him, then throw a gigantic snake on the poor guy, it made Roberts look good and enhanced the overall wrestling product.

6

May

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

Junior Seau

Junior Seau's suicide shocked everyone who pays attention to the NFL.

If the NFL wants a case study on how not to handle tragic situations involving past and current players, it should look no further than professional wrestling.

Here’s a small sample of well-known professional wrestlers who have died before the age of 50 since 1997: Bam Bam Biggelow, Eddie Guerrero, The Big Bossman, Hercules, Crash Holly, Road Warrior Hawk, Ms. Elizabeth, Mr. Perfect, Davey Boy Smith, Chris Benoit, Yokozuna, Chris Kanyon, Ravashing Rick Rude, Louie Spicolli and Brian Pillman.

All of those wrestlers died from suicide, drug overdoses, or health complications that many speculate were caused by years of abusing drugs, painkillers, steroids and/or alcohol.

If you used to watch wrestling, or just tolerated it while your kids or spouse watched it, chances are you recognize many of those names.

Now think back to your favorite Packers players from the 80s and 90s. What if 15 of them were dead, all before the age of 50, many from suicide, drug overdoses or health complications (likely) caused by abusing drugs and alcohol?

We’d be shocked, right? We’d probably ask questions about the Packers’ culture. We’d want to know if there were warning signs, or if management could have done something to help these guys before they went over the edge. The media would do all sorts of exposes and law enforcement might event get involved. We would demand answers. Then we’d demand changes.

At least I hope we would. I’d like to think that we wouldn’t be so blinded by wins and loses that we’d forget these guys are human beings. But because I’m an avid pro wrestling fan, sometimes I wonder.

I know comparing wrestling to football is apples and oranges. — one is choreographed violence and the other is a legitimate (and aggressive) sport — but wrestling fans have done little over the years to question the wrestling powers-that-be about why so many of their wrestlers die so young.

Chris Benoit murdering his family and then killing himself finally brought some attention to the subject, but for the most part, wrestling fans pay little attention to what happens outside of the ring as long as the Rock is delivering People’s Elbows or Stone Cold Steve Austin is chugging beers inside of it.

26

February

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

Sundays are rough without football, especially after how the Packers season ended.

I love Sundays, but I love Sundays more when football is on. Football makes you forget about your hangover from Saturday night and the fact that you have to go back to work on Monday. Football also makes you feel less guilty for lazing around on the couch all day, eating food that raises your cholesterol and swearing at your TV.

Now we’re stuck with the NBA, NHL, MLB and golf on Sunday for the foreseeable future. I like all of those sports, but none of them makes a Sunday like football. Those other sports are for the other six days of the week.

Sunday is for football.

To kill the time on these offseason Sundays, I’m going to publish Surviving Sunday: Packers New, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived.

It’ll be a regular notebook-style column that opens with a random thought or rant (like the one you’re reading now), followed by some quick opinions on a couple of key issues related to the Packers that I didn’t have a chance to cover with a full post during the week. From there, I’ll include links to must-read/must-see stories, videos and blog posts from the previous week and a preview of possible Packers storylines for the upcoming week. I’ll close each Surviving Sunday with a few words on a subject unrelated to the Packers.

I hope you enjoy reading Surviving Sunday as much as I enjoy putting it together. Anything to get in a little football on Sunday, right?

Scott Wells, Bryan Bulaga and the NFL Combine

  • Ted Thompson needs to sign Scott Wells. Unless Wells is asking for the moon because he wants his comeuppance after the Packers were mean to him early in his career, Thompson needs to make this one work. Wells is an upper-echelon center. If there’s one thing that occasionally rattles Aaron Rodgers (or any QB), it’s pressure up the middle. Wells does a good job of setting the Packers pass protection and keeping those interior pass rushers out of No. 12′s face. For what the Packers need him to do, he’s worth a 3-year deal in the $17-20 million range.
10

July

The Final Chapter: The Complete History of Green Bay Packers in Professional Wrestling: List of All Packers With Wrestling Connections

Clay Matthews raises Edge's hand after a match on WWE Smackdown.

We continue our “Sunday Storytime” with chapter 4 in a series examining the history of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and professional wrestling. This is the final chapter in the series. The introduction to the series can be read here. Chapter 1 can be read hereand Chapter 2  can be read here. Chapter 3 can be read here.

The final chapter in our look at the connection between the Green Bay Packers, the NFL and professional wrestling is a database of wrestlers with ties to the Packers. I know I am probably missing some names, so if you know of anyone that I omitted, let me know in the comments section and I’ll add them.

With the lockout (hopefully) ending this week, you probably won’t have to put up with any more pro wrestling posts from me. I had a lot of fun putting this series together and I hope at least a few of you found something a little worthwhile in each chapter.

A friend of mine manages a popular Minnesota Timberwolves blog and is posting about his return to distance running as the NBA lockout drags on. I also recently started running and probably could have put together some amusing posts about my struggles for this site. But seriously, would you rather read about me — a 240-pound blogger trying not to die of a heart attack while running a mile — or Dick the Bruiser?

I’d take Dick the Bruiser every time.

Pro Wrestlers With Connections to the Packers

Vern Gagne
Gagne was a 16-time world heavyweight champion and owner/promoter of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) based in Minneapolis. Gagne never actually played for the Packers, but tried out and was cut during training camp. To help himself get over with wrestling fans in the Wisconsin and Green Bay regions, Gagne would often bill himself as a former Green Bay Packer.

Lex Luger
Luger (real name Larry Pfohl) is a former member of the famous Four Horseman stable and the groundbreaking NWO. Luger spent the entire 1982 season on the Packers injured reserve and was released before the start of the 1983 season.

3

July

The Complete History of Green Bay Packers in Professional Wrestling: Chapter 3 — Dick “the Bruiser” Afflis

Da Crusher from Milwaukee and Dick the Bruiser, a former Packer, dominated wrestling's tag team division for over 10 years.

We continue our “Sunday Storytime” with chapter 3 in a series examining the history of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and professional wrestling. The introduction to the series can be read here. Chapter 1 can be read here and Chapter 2  can be read here.

Remember when pro wrestlers had barrel chests and round bellies instead of bulging biceps and chiseled physiques? Remember when wrestlers looked like larger and meaner versions of your dad’s drinking buddies? Remember when old ladies used to sit in the front row at wrestling events and swing their purses at the bad guys?

If you do, then you also probably remember Dick the Bruiser. Dick the Bruiser’s wrestling career began in the mid 50s and lasted until the late 80s. He won multiple titles in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and started his own promotion in Indianapolis called the World Wrestling Association.

The Bruiser used his wrestling career to become a cross-media star and local celebrity in the Indianapolis area. But the first step on his rise to fame came with the Green Bay Packers.

Scary, Heroic and Goofy
Dick the Bruiser was born William Richard Afflis and played on the Packers offensive and defensive lines from 1951-54. Titletown was a ways off in Green Bay’s future as the Packers went 15-32-1 in Afflis’s 48 games. This group of Packers were more interested in drinking beer than winning. And Afflis fit right in.

The 6-foot, 251-pounder left Purdue after clobbering his line coach with his helmet and was kicked out of Miami after bookmaking allegations. He lasted a couple of weeks at Notre Dame and Alabama before settling at Nevada-Reno. The Packers drafted him in the 16th round (somewhere along the way, he also officially changed his first name to Dick).

Afflis was a decent lineman, but most people remember him more for his colorful personality than his on-field play. Some Afflis stories are scary, some are heroic, and some are goofy. All of them are entertaining.

26

June

The Complete History of Green Bay Packers in Professional Wrestling: Chapter 2 — Kevin Greene, Steve McMichael and the 4 Horsemen

The legendary Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Kevin Greene.

We continue our “Sunday Storytime” with chapter 2 in a series examining the history of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and professional wrestling. The introduction to the series can be read here. Chapter 1 can be read here.

Watching Kevin Greene sack quarterbacks was sort of like watching a pale, blond-haired Tasmanian Devil chase Bugs Bunny. Of course the main difference was Greene often caught the quarterbacks he chased. Taz typically ended up getting an anvil dropped on his head.

Greene played with the type of energy and attitude some may have considered reckless if he wasn’t so damn good. His mouth moved almost as fast as his legs. He flung his body around without fear of injury. And you could usually find him before the game high-fiving the mascot, kissing his wife or banging his head against something.

Greene brings that same energy to the Packers as a linebackers coach. Who can forget Greene’s “It’s Time” speech to Clay Matthews moments before Matthews forced a key fumble early in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLV?

Given Greene’s personality, it’s easy to see how Greene ended up in professional wrestling.

Teaming with McMichael
Greene made his in-ring debut for WCW at the Great American Bash on June 16, 1996. His first angle involved former Chicago Bear and Green Bay Packer Steve McMichael, McMichael’s real-life wife Debra Marshall, the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.

Flair was hitting on Marshall, and naturally, McMichael was mad. McMichael brought in Greene to team up against Flair and his longtime partner in the Horsemen, Arn Anderson. The stage was set for the gridiron greats to meet the squared circle legends in a make believe fight to the finish. (Note: Marshall eventually divorced McMichael and became the real-life wife of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.)

WCW was extremely popular in the South, especially in the Carolinas. Since Greene played for the Carolina Panthers at the time, bringing him in to team with McMichael seemed like a good fit. The actual match was nothing memorable, but the swerve at the end led to a blip in wrestling history that angered many passionate (geeky) wrestling fans like me.