Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fall Internship Challenge Winning Submission

As per tradition, the Packer Ranter's Fall semester intern class battled for the coveted Tracy White Certificate of Excellence. Because it’s been known to catapult average-appearing students into top-notch job prospects, the Tracy White Certificate of Excellence (TWCoE) has grown both in legend and prestige. Former Ranter interns have gone on to exciting careers and time-consuming hobbies in insurance claims, craft store entrepreneurship and social media “specialization.”

While we appreciate the efforts of our four interns throughout the season (they are all invited to join us in Port Washington’s Fish Day this summer), we simply do not believe in participation trophies. Only one truly deserving intern receives the TWCoE signed by both Mr. Hillside and myself while the rest are rewarded by the experience of working for a real website.

After careful consideration, we eliminated Pigtails and Village Idiot from the final round – partly for their uninspiring brainstorms but mostly for their incompetent nacho skills – leaving Cornbreath and Dingleberry to battle it out. (We only use Delta Tau Chi-style names here at Ranter HQ.) The final challenge was laid out as follows via email:

The Packers are playing the Falcons for the NFC Championship Game this Sunday. You have two days to surprise us. Good luck.

We refreshed our emails regularly, expecting clarifying questions galore but they did not come...we knew we had picked our final candidates well. Only 12 hours had passed before I received a knock at my door. A friendly delivery man asked if I was the one whom they called “Greenfield.” I nodded and he handed me a heavy box wrapped in shiny green and gold ribbon. The note attached read, “May this offering be 1/100th delightful as my experience has been. With everything I am, Cornbreath.” Inside was a specially prepared care package of meats and a customized “Run the Table” giant cookie (estimated total value with rush shipping of $450+).
Nod bad, Cornbreath.

No question that Cornbreath had brought his “A” game to the intern championship challenge. But playing to our well-known and storied appetites was also an obvious choice; maybe too obvious?

Time was winding down without word from Dingleberry. If she was a minute late, she would be disqualified and Cornbreath would receive both the Certificate and accompanying cachet. While just about ready to call it off, Franklin and I received a curious message:

Coordinates – it had to be. I copied them into my browser: It was the Georgia Dome – the home of the Atlanta Falcons. So what? 

Google Earth view of the Georgia Dome
As I zoomed in, I realized Dingleberry wasn’t showing me the Georgia Dome but rather the construction area right next door. It was the Mercedes-Benz $1.5 billion future site of the Atlanta Falcons, expected to be completed next year.

Look closer.
There, just south of the Dome in a dirt-flatten area the words “GO PACK GO” surfaced as plain as day. 

Winner winner, chicken dinner!
The most amazing thing was – if you could really pinpoint a single amazing thing in the astonishing stunt – was that from ground level you probably wouldn’t be able to see it. Only from a highly elevated viewpoint could someone take notice, like via Google Earth. And it was all just for a deliberate audience of two Packer Ranters. Simply outstanding. We would eventually have to hear all the details of how this was done in such a short amount of time, but for the moment, we had to let her know immediately:


Five seconds later, she came back with the following:


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Going for the Record

My grandpa loves westerns. Growing up, when I would visit my grandparents, I would lay in front of the TV for hours watching old westerns like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Wild, Wild West. I have fond memories of these times with my grandpa and these old shows. A hallmark of these shows is the barfight. Seriously, you can’t go longer than 3 episodes without someone cheating at cards, someone feuding over water rights or someone bumping into the angry cowpoke who just wants to drink, watch prostitutes micturate on a bed and fight (not necessarily in that order). The ensuing fight usually includes flying haymakers, smashing bottles, upended spittoons and numerous people crashing though tables. I loved these fights. My cousin and I would reenact them, smashing empty liter bottles over our heads and throwing each other through tables made of cardboard boxes.

Fast forward a few years and my latent fascination with barfights resurfaced when I saw one of the greatest movies ever made. A movie whose entire plot focuses on the physical action of barfights, the politics of barfights and the love interests resulting from barfights. I’m talking of course about, ‘Roadhouse’….you’re picturing roundhouse kicks and monster trucks right now, aren’t you? Yeah, you are. Awesome. ‘Roadhouse’ became somewhat of an obsession for me. I had a Double Deuce replica bouncer uniform, a Dalton haircut and the single of ‘Cliff’s Edge’. What? You don’t know, ‘Cliff’s Edge’? Pffft, it’s the song Patrick Swazye wrote and sang for the soundtrack. It's brilliant. In addition, I even wrote a paper for my Popular Media class positing that “Roadhouse” was a modern allegory for the class struggle of labor vs capital.

It was the research for this paper that connected with me Mike ‘Slivers’ McCombs. Slivers was an uncredited stuntman on ‘Roadhouse’ who got his nickname from getting 27 slivers embedded in his forehead after having a chair busted over his head while in the Marines. Slivers would never comment on why he wasn’t credited for his work on the film, and he said he never worked on another movie again after. During one of our chats about his time on set, Slivers revealed he was a Packers fan. We quickly bonded, and it led to a couple conversations a year about the how each season was going. I hadn’t heard from Slivers in a few years, but I got an email on Monday after the win against the Giants. The subject just said, ‘It can’t be done’. Intrigued, I opened the note.

Frank, long time no talk. How are things? Good here, just planned the stunts for my granddaughter’s school play. Pretty kickass. She fights off 15 ninjas and a ship full of pirates.

How ‘bout this season? Been a wild ride, brother. Never thought the fellas would make it this far, but here we are. Gotta say, though, I don’t think it’s possible, I don’t think Packers can win out and win the hardware. Look, I know what Rodgers said, but I just know how hard it can be. Frank, I never told you why I got kicked off the set of 'Roadhouse'. You see, late at night, me and some of the stunt guys and Sam Elliot would crush a couple bottles of whiskey, and we’d play this old stuntman game called, ‘Run the Table’. The rules were simple, each guy would take a turn getting slammed through as many tables as he could until he either 1) passed out or 2) tapped out. Well, one night we were really getting after it, and Elliot asks, 'What’s the record?' 

Me and the boys looked at each other, and Duke Bonecrusher (he claimed it was his real name) mumbled, 'Well, Sam, it’s not really important.'

'Goddamn it, Duke, how many?'

‘It’s, uh, eight.’

Well, if I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t believe it. Sam Elliot and his beautiful, long, grey locks Ran the Table to the tune of nine. Elliot ended up in the hospital for two weeks, and I got fired, but it was worth it to witness. To this day, no one has ever beaten Elliot’s nine tables ran.  So you see, Frank, that’s why Rodgers and the Pack can’t do it. No one can run ten. It just can’t be done. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Take care of yourself, brother.

Slivers

I was dumbfounded. Two things I realized: 1) Sam Elliot is even more of a badass than previously believed 2) When someone loses faith, you gotta reassure them.



I wrote back:

Slivers, great to hear from you. That’s a helluva story. I love Sam Elliot with the fire of a thousand suns.
One more thing: Trust in Rodgers. They’re gonna do it. They’re going to run the table and go for ten.

Go, Pack.

Franklin


PS-Tell your granddaughter to break a leg…or maybe stuntmen don’t say that. How about just, good luck, and It. Is. Time.”


Friday, January 6, 2017

On Table Runners...

Say ‘good-bye’ to heavy sculptural bowls, fragile table art and precious linen placemats and say ‘hello’ to table runners! The easy way to add aesthetics without competing with d├ęcor or food, table runners eliminate the need for obscene, perfunctory centerpieces at a fraction of the price.

It’s often been said that the most common quilter and knitter’s dilemma is that very first project. While blankets, scarves and coasters are quite achievable, they generally represent a minimal effort whereas socks, sweaters, mittens and the like require a much more experienced hand. That’s why you’ll often find beginners enjoying middle ground in the form of the classic table runner. But there's so much more to table runners.

Now, a lot of people I talk to look at table runners as simply an extended coaster upon which a variety of drinks can be set. That would be a gross oversimplification. Table runners are incredibly versatile in both their utility and decorative possibilities.

Consider the scenario of food or drink being carelessly spilled upon a beautiful wooden table. If not cleaned immediately, the penetrating liquid would stain and create a permanent eyesore. A table runner would easily accept the burden of the spill while being able to be laundered just as easily as a tablecloth.

Among other things, one may also utilize an insulated table runner as sort of a massive hot pad, acting as a protective barrier betwixt your warmest of casseroles and your most precious of tables – something both table owners and servers alike would appreciate.

If you’re worried about hiding that beautiful, flawless table of yours, consider the implications of unsightly damage to that table because you failed to protect it in the first place. Your arrogance has resulted in ruining the thing you love most, and you will be reminded of this every time you sit to have a meal.

Whether you consider it a placemat, hot pad, decorative accent, napkin, coaster, seasonal centerpiece or simply table insurance, table runners will always have a place in today’s world. So go ahead, run that table like you mean it.
#Runthetable

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Is the NFL Rigged Against the Lions?

Maybe we’ve got another reason to RELAX, Packer fans. Because there seems to be a strong sentiment that the NFL, Goodell, the refs and perhaps others are engaged in a grand conspiracy to prevent the Lions from winning.

A little backstory. I was popping around Detroit Lions’ blogs to gauge feelings toward this Sunday’s monster division-deciding last game and came across PrideofDetroit.com. Along with Acme Packing Company, they are part of SB Nation and appear to have an even stronger following. Which is great, because I wanted to see the depressing comments and highlight them for the LOLs. But a theme surfaced that I couldn’t ignore.

As user tuhuhoh claims, she bought a brand new BMW by working online. Apparently, her friend told her she was making $98/hr. Of course, this seemed hard to believe at first, but now tuhuhoh is doing it herself! While that sounded awesome the comment seemed misplaced on a Detroit Lions’ blog. (Don’t worry, I private-messaged her to let her know.)

Beyond unique work-from-home opportunities, commenters expressed great concern that the league is simply out for them to fail. It wasn't just a couple; it was a LOT, and just this one site. Here is a sampling of what I mean:

I expect the officiated to be 5x worse on Sunday…I don’t think the NFL wants the Lions in the postseason – Rodgers’ stupid “win out and OMG THEY DID” storyline is apparently more interesting to them.

I think we can definitely have a good shot of beating the Pack with neutral officiating but we all know that Cry baby Rodgers at the helm they will get every single call. Also when we go ahead with a lead, you know the officials ear piece will start beeping, signaling that it’s time for the refs to call a “get GB back in the game call."

The officiating didn’t lose the game for Detroit (re: Cowboys loss) but it’s impossible to try and win against the referees and the other team. An ownership statement would stand to say “We’re not going to take the unacceptable level of referee performance.

Slay and Swanson are desperately need if there’s going to be any legitimate chance to beat Green Bay. The burning question is will the refs let the Lions win on Sunday night.

Everyone's in on it! Including her!
They have to play the Packers, Goodell, the Refs, and the rest of the NFL all at once, and that is never a good thing. I want the Lions to win the division and head to the playoffs, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen, not with these refs.

To add insult upon insult, if GB gets the refereeing help they usually do, the media will say it’s because Rodgers is good and the Lions are bad. Even if the Lions win, they’ll say the Lions got lucky and almost collapsed.

I think the game will be competitive but in the end Rodgers, refs and Goodell will prove to be to much.

If we get fair officiating, I think we can win the game, but I’m not counting on it.

Zero chance (Lions win) since the NFL is hellbent on getting their golden boys to the playoffs.

The NFL gave the Packers 2 extra days rest to get ready for lions while lions have to rebound on 4 days rest, wonder why Lions fans say the league is against them.

Is this simply the product of too many terrible seasons and painful losses? Or is this a scheme orchestrated by multiple, mischievous levels of the NFL? It’s so hard to know. We’ll see Sunday if this has any merit but I think mrcrooms summed it up nicely.

Everyone that whines about the officials… Yes, we get bad calls. So does every other team in the league. There is no conspiracy for the league to not want the Lions to win. If we could put together a full game on either side of the ball, let along in all three phases, we might be better off and not have to complain about the refs week in and week out.

Go Pack Go!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers - Book Review

If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers
Stories from the Green Bay Packers Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box

Wayne Larrivee is a gem of a sports announcer and Packer fans are lucky to have him. There are few radio broadcasts that still equal the experience of watching a live, televised game. For nearly 20 years, the play-by-play of Wayne Larrivee (and color by Larry McCarren) on the Packers Radio Network has been consistently just as good and arguably even better.

I was happy to read a little more about Wayne in the brand new book, If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers (256 pages). Of course, some Packers fans may only recognize Larrivee’s famous “dagger” call when the game’s outcome appears to be solidified. But while Larrivee did make it synonymous with the Packers, he readily admits he wasn’t the first to use it. Fun fact: the only time in his career he called it “wrong” was in the case of the Seahawks’ Fail Mary, but as Wayne points out (and I think we all can agree here), the replacement refs also called it wrong so it doesn’t count.

It was also incredibly interesting to read how Larrivee ended up with the Packers. In this book, you’ll learn just how broadcasting for the Packers fulfilled his childhood dream. Or that he made the proactive sales pitch to come to small market Green Bay when the opening became available despite a very successful career in Chicago.

But Wayne’s personal history is just a very small part of this book. True to its title, If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers recalls stories – both good and bad – I have never heard. While the Packers and their fans have enjoyed a wealth of success over the last 20+ years, there have been plenty of instances of conflict that people outside the organization might not understand.

Larrivee and Reischel aren’t shy about pulling back the curtain on some difficult moments, offering valuable insights and personal anecdotes into the recent history of the Packers’ organization. You’ll learn of the difficult transition from Mike Holmgren’s strict internal policies to Ray Rhodes more laid-back approach that set the team back in 1999. And of Mike Sherman’s obsessive preparation and micromanagement, which became a thorn in the sides of many people within the walls of Lambeau Field – including Wayne himself.

Following a chronological timeline, the book revisits the astute hiring of Ron Wolf, his perceived overpayment for a careless but young and talented quarterback from Southern Miss, and the unexpected signing of all-time great Reggie White. All these moments – each seemingly more unlikely than the previous – formed a new foundation of success for the Packers. Green Bay fans and historians will sincerely appreciate the new insights and reminder of the winning expectations that were set decades ago.

All the biggest names in the Packers from the last couple decades are covered. On top of the many Favre memories, Larrivee and Reischel touch on Driver, Nelson, Rodgers, Butler, Woodson, Matthews and so many more. But what makes this a fascinating read is how each player and moment helped shaped the Packers’ organization to what it is today. And for those interested in the Packers’ more internal dealings, If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers does an outstanding job of painting the picture of management and coaching philosophies, including those of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy.

In all honesty, I would love to just divulge all the entertaining details but that wouldn’t be fair to the book or to the readers. If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers captured so many moments in a new way I truly felt the emotions of the time as if they happened yesterday. (And it’s impossible – in a good way – to not envision Wayne narrating the book to you personally while you read it.) 

You can find If These Walls Could Talk: Green Bay Packers at their website. I highly recommend it. Thanks to the good folks at Triumph Books for sending me a complimentary copy to review.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I Had Questions, Vikings Territory Had Answers

I had a busy Friday night of dusting and rearranging my 'Star Wars: Rogue One' homemade action figures, so I almost forgot to post this. As has become a semi-annual tradition, I had a little Q & A session with Adam Warwas over at Vikings Territory. I feel we both remained calm and mostly rational during the exchange, and you should all follow our shining example of civil behavior Sunday Night. 

You can read my answers to his questions here. My questions and his responses follow below.

1) Seems like a risky strategy to not score on offense and hold out until your defense can score. How do the Vikings plan to replicate scoring their only touchdowns on defense?

There are a lot of things that are less than ideal about the way the last few weeks have gone, no doubt. But as was collectively noted by those that follow closely when Bridgewater went down, our team has a championship caliber defense that can win us games, and you are correct in that we saw that in action in Tennessee. Mike Zimmer's aggressive calls on defense, the talent and speed and all through the defensive depth chart, and their ability to turn in some points on their own should continue to help the team overcome some adversity.
With Bridgewater missing, it is an easy offense to poke some fun at, for sure. Regardless of which quarterback plays on Sunday, the Vikings need to put something on tape that actually scares opposing defenses. That didn't happen on Sunday (although Shaun Hill had better efficiency numbers than Aaron Rodgers on Sunday) and the offseason question of whether or not our red zone offense has improved has changed to "can we make it to the red zone?" 
With that being said, there were some positives displayed that the Vikings can build off of. Most notably, the Titans blitzed consistently which was effective against the run, but our improved pass protection was able to keep Hill upright and clean. No touchdowns, true. But drive killing sacks and turnovers, also true, and can go a long ways towards winning a football game.

2) What goes through your mind as a Vikings fan when Blair Walsh trots out on the field? Subquestion: can you actually hear the yips in his head when you’re at the game, or is it just the flop sweat on his forehead that indicates his internal terror?

I'll give you an assist and throw punter/holder Jeff Locke in there, too. Both need to get their act together as that Minnesota Nice is quickly turning to ice. No excuses, they are a liability until they prove otherwise... or until they are replaced. For now, however, I'd expect the Vikings to try and wait it out with Walsh much like Green Bay did with Crosby during his struggles.

3) 19 carries for 31 yards for Adrian Peterson against the Titans. Cause for concern about his play or just the way the game played out with Tennessee (and everyone else) not respecting Shaun Hill?

There was nothing that went right for the Vikings in the running game on Sunday. Peterson looked rusty like he did in Week One last year. The offensive line looked overwhelmed. The Titans talented defense stacked the box. Norv Turner stubbornly kept trying the same things over and over again. And, of course, Shaun Hill is a quarterback that will be able to make such a defense pay on a very limited basis.
The running game will continue to struggle until Minnesota can effectively set up the run with a legitimate passing attack. Will that happen? Can Sam Bradford make that happen? Does Norv Turner have some tricks up his sleeve to force that to happen? My guess is that those are questions that will take multiple weeks, not just seven days, to fully answer. Regardless of what happens this week, the hope is that you guys will be facing off against a much more potent and cohesive team come Christmas. 
In the end, I don't think Peterson has regressed beyond the level that most of us already admit to, and I'm betting he gains some serious momentum as the season wears on.

4) On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being a Gary Anderson missed field goal and 10 being a Randy Moss touchdown and subsequent moon celebration), how excited are you to see a game at the new stadium? Was it really necessary to make it louder than the Metrodome?

Oh yeah, that's a 10, for sure. I'm not one that hated the Metrodome to the same level as many, as I'd enjoy watching Vikings football anywhere, but it sure is nice to have a stadium that brings even more pride to the organization and fan base. Most importantly, it means the team isn't going anywhere, which was something that loomed over the franchise like a dark cloud for far too long. With a new era comes new traditions and I am excited to see what the Viking chant looks like on Sunday, how loud the place actually gets, and just a general improvement of the overall experience. The hope is our home-field advantage will be that much more effective.

5) It was terrible what happened to Bridgewater. The response to it, trading for Bradford, is so foreign to me having Ted Thompson as a GM that I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Agree with the move? Agree with reservations? Disagree? Is it a 'win now' move or is it hedging against a long recovery for Bridgewater?

My feelings are pretty simple: I agree with Rick Spielman's decision to be aggressive in finding a solution, but think he ignored the backup quarterback situation since drafting Bridgewater and got caught without an adequate Plan B. So it cost us. A lot. The best case scenario is that Bradford lights it up and is able to help keep an otherwise talented and deep roster in contention. The worst case scenario is that we end up with two "franchise" quarterbacks on injured reserve. History will judge this trade by what happens over the next 5 to 17 months, so I'm trying my hardest to just be patient and see how it all plays out.

6) Where is Adrian Peterson next year? On the Vikings? On the Vikings with a renegotiated deal? On the Cowboys, or some other team? (but let’s be honest, the Cowboys) Which would you prefer?


I actually think Peterson's ship has sailed when it comes to Dallas. They drafted some kid that I hear they're plenty happy with. Peterson has an $18 million cap hit in 2017, but would cost them nothing in dead cap if they decided to part ways with him. That puts the Vikings at an advantage if renegotiation occurs, especially if Peterson is truthful when he says he wants to retire as a Viking, but I do think something will have to happen. I'm not sure that he gets the Jared Allen treatment (plays out his contract despite the cost) unless he really tears it up again in 2016. I've always thought that the NFL has it backwards when it comes to compensatory picks, and that teams should be rewarded for loyalty, not encouraged to let free agents walk. Peterson won't be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, but it would be nice if some sort of loyalty between the team and player actually did allow him to retire as a career-long Viking. The bottom line is that Peterson is just like any NFL running back in 2017 - he isn't worth $18 million in cap space - so we'll have to see how that plays out.

Thanks you for a glimpse into the mind of Vikings fan, Adam.

Go, Pack.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Unique Packers Items Available As We Speak (2)

As the world of man caves and flair will likely never go away, competition among diehards will remain fierce. To save you time browsing the classifieds, I now bring you this virtual Packers garage sale in order that you may stay ahead of the game (pun definitely intended). Here are some of the most interesting and unique Packers items available via eBay or Craigslist as we speak.

"Clay Matthews in a one of a kind custom poise."
Wow. This beauty caught my attention right off the bat. The description of a “one of a kind poise” and “nothing like it” absolutely seemed true to me, except for the spelling. As instructed, I did “look at the details” as well as the various angles shown here.

But at a Buy It Now price of $299, I knew this wasn’t the value pick I was looking for. And as I lingered one last time at the effort that went into this figurine, I found myself locked into its gazing eyes. Clay’s blank yet contemplative stare off into the distance belied the aggressive pose – as if suddenly caught in an existential doll dilemma. I know I couldn't handle that stare sitting on my bookshelf but maybe you can.


Next, comes a unique Packers item in its own right but alas, one that is sadly oversold. On the surface, these appear to be a somewhat vintage bottles of shampoo and shower gel. “Rare finds” indeed. But the description notes that only the gel is in the original packaging, clearly indicating the shampoo was used. 

If 15 images won't sell these things, nothing will.

And how old is this stuff? Would its cleansing and sanitizing properties still be effective? Can I meet the person who used the shampoo to get an impression of their overall cleanliness with the understanding they were the consumer of this product? So many questions…

Investigating further, this person uses several sales tactics I find annoying and questionable starting with the classic L@@K!! in the headline – a sure-fire internet-tested way to gain views. Not surprisingly, this is followed by unnecessary usage of CAPITAL LETTERS, a lengthy description and gratuitous glowing adjectives such as “RARE,” “AMAZING” and “Authentic.” If that shampoo bottle is so amazing, you’d think they’d want it all to themselves. Then we’re told “First $35 gets it,” as if expected demand is so high the seller has no choice but to stand firm on the price while apologizing to all those who couldn’t get there in time. Finally, we get a full 15 images of these two bottles – I guess to reassure buyers this is not a stock image? I don’t know. With so many red flags, I say stay away from this one … far, far away.

What won’t they put a logo on?
In addition to finding the Clay figurine and RARE bottles, it became very evident in my searching the NFL and the Packers will either put a logo on or NFLify just about any product known to man - I mean ANY. Here is a gentle smattering of what I found in just under two minutes. 
#MERCHANDISING


Two more to go, including this Starting Lineup Brett Favre from 1997, his third and final MVP year. 

You’ll immediately notice the hiked-up shorts and Spandex® combination accented by the trademark 90's white tennies and ripped shirt. I assure you, this look was a thing. For $10, it’s worth it alone for a piece of fashion history, which would make a great conversation piece as well.

Finally, I bring you the following:

Look familiar?
I suppose it's not that absurd of a product considering what we've already experienced. HOWEVER, this piece in particular caught my attention for a very specific reason. That is because I found the EXACT same product listed 4 short years ago for $25! Seriously, here's the blog post. This person does NOT give up, this time offering eight glorious angles upon which to marvel. Like a fine wine, this crock pot seemingly only gets more expensive over time. This is the one product I recommend purchasing now as who knows what the price will be in another four years...

Monday, August 22, 2016

With Humbleness & Heart: The Tracy White Story (Part 2)

(You can read Part 1 here.)

Released by the Seahawks. Picked up by the Jaguars a Day Later.
In 2005, the Seahawks were retooling their linebacking corps. Chad Brown moved onto New England, Anthony Simmons was released and Seattle moved up in the draft to pick Lofa Tatupu. Tracy White didn’t fit their plans and was released after preseason despite being “one of the best special teams players,” according to then-Seattle special teams coach Mark Michaels, who informed the Ranter.

But Michaels had also moved that year to Jacksonville’s coaching staff (only three hours from Tracy’s home town), and the Jaguars picked up White just one day after being released from Seattle.

“It’s real strange but everything happens for a reason. It brought me closer to home, and I'm excited to play for the Jaguars,” White told the Seattle Times.

In Jacksonville, White played primarily on special teams for 15 games before being placed on IR. The Jaguars did not offer White a contact after the season as once again, he didn’t fit their plans at the linebacking position.

By that time, White had embraced special teams wholeheartedly and went onto make his mark in that area as Michaels told us:

“I feel Tracy was one of the best special teams players that I coached in my 8 years in the NFL.”

Reunited with Ted Thompson
Formerly in Seattle during Tracy White’s NFL beginnings, Ted Thompson was now in his second year as Green Bay’s General Manager in 2006 and picked up the free agent White.

It was an interesting situation at linebacker for the Packers at the time but one that seemed optimistic. Nick Barnett was the mainstay and coming off his best year, and the Packers made moves to further solidify the unit by drafting standout Ohio State Buckeye AJ Hawk with the 5th overall pick. They took it further by taking Abdul Hodge in the third round and the perception was they got great value.
Hodge, the 67th pick in '06

Don Pompeii of the Sporting News gave the Packers 2006 draft an A+ and said at the time:

"With linebackers A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge, the Packers have the beginnings of a defense that could dominate the NFC North for years."

Ben Taylor, Brady Poppinga, Roy Manning, Kurt Campbell and the relatively unknown Tracy White rounded out the linebacking competition.

But when fullback Brandon Miree was promoted from the practice squad, White was released. Soon after, DL Kendrick Allen was placed on IR. Coupled with backup linebackers Ben Taylor and Hodge dealing with injuries, White was resigned as insurance.

After making the final cut, White was properly utilized according to his expertise: on special teams. And in just his first season with Green Bay, he became the best at player in that regard on the team as the Journal Sentinel reported. It’s what got him another contract in 2007, where he once again was the Packers’ most productive player on special teams and received a significant increase in snap counts. The Packers had even gone from dead last in special teams to 7th place in 2007.

At the risk of bringing up a painful Packer memory, I would like to quickly revisit the 2007 NFC Championship game. With just over two minutes left in the game  – before the deflating OT loss – the Packers and Giants were tied 20-20. Green Bay was pinned near their own 15-yard line and forced to punt. The Giants were going to get excellent field position and a great opportunity to score. Fans everywhere were on pins and needles. The Packers needed a big play.

Enter Tracy White.

After John Ryan’s short punt, RW McQuarters took the ball at the Packers’ 48 yard line. He went about 10 yards before trying to cut in front of White, who knocked the ball loose. It was a gift from the football gods, but Green Bay sadly couldn’t fall on the ball. What might have been...


video

The Curious Underappreciation of Tracy White
When he hit free agency in 2008, White visited both Pittsburgh and Denver but opted for Green Bay and was rewarded him with a two-year deal. White had seemingly finally found a football home. Coach McCarthy even called White the best special teams player the last two years. Still at only 27-years old, White was in the prime of his career.

But management had other plans. With Favre now gone and Rodgers taking over at quarterback, the Packers were in the midst of building for the future and had suddenly laid claim to being the youngest team in the NFL. White initially made the cut (they had retained 7 linebackers in August) but on October 8th, the following Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline appeared.


The Packers had cut Tracy White in favor of 23-year old practice squad linebacker Danny Lansanah. Apparently, Lansanah was being pursued by the Dolphins (he would end up there the next year after being cut by the Packers). At least this is what they told Tracy. Again, from the Journal Sentinel:

“Miami wanted to get him and they (the Packers) wanted to keep him so they had to make a roster move,” White said. “They wanted to stay young. I was told they want him for the ‘long haul.’ Those were the words quoted to me.”

At 6’1, 248 lbs., Lansanah also possessed a more typical size for linebacker. With AJ Hawk uncertain at the time with groin injury, Lansanah was perceived to be somewhat of insurance. It was a story Tracy had heard before.

For the fans who felt the sting, they had only to sullenly fall back on the relatively new Packers’ mantra at the time: In Ted We Trust.

The absence of Tracy White was clearly felt and the Packers special teams thereafter plummeted, finishing 26th in 2008 and 31st in 2009. If you think that's just hyperbole, this is what Bob McGinn had to say in 2010.
The dropoff in special teams even led to the (suggested) retirement of special teams coach Mike Stock from football. But Stock can’t be totally blamed for the fallout. As Tom Silverstein pointed out, “It was by far his toughest (year) given the few veterans he had to work with and the constant musical chairs he oversaw because of numerous injuries.

Silverstein also asked Stock about Tracy White specifically, and Stock “didn’t hide the fact that move affected the units.” As Stock said to Silverstein regarding White:

"He was kind of a quiet leader, because he'd take guys into the video room and sit and talk and discuss the various aspects of the Big Four, if you will, of the return aspects and the coverage aspects of the game with the young guys.
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