Thursday, January 29, 2009

What ever happened to… Chuck Cecil?

You remember Chuck Cecil. He was that mad safety that played for the Packers in the late 80s/early 90s – the guy who had a permanent open wound on the bridge of his nose as a result of absolutely demolishing the wide receivers who dared cross his path. He was arguably the hardest hitter in the history of the NFL. Think I’m kidding? Take a look at this SI cover from ’93 that screams B.A.

Chuck crushed players so brutally they had to change the rules because of him – how many players can say that? In an article his wife wrote in 2007, Chuck admits "No, I couldn't play in the National Football League today," he said. "The rules have changed." That’s because of you, sir Charles.

Cecil not only hit so hard that he not only knocked players out of the game, he also knocked himself out of a few as well. In fact, he had so many concussions he was forced to retire in ’95. So what’s ol’ #26 been up to since? Apparently, Cecil played on the Celebrity Golf Tour for a few years before getting back into the league – this time as a coach. For the last eight years, Chuck’s had a series of coaching roles with the Tennessee Titans. Word is he might even be their defensive coordinator in 2009. Along the way he had a child and married a Hollywood writer/producer, who worked on a few movies like Dogma. Not bad, Chuck. Not bad at all.

I’ll leave you with a great quote from #26, which was also in the article I referenced. "I love the game and still get excited on Sundays. I'll always have a spot in my heart for the Green Bay Packers, their fans, and Brett Favre. I was very fortunate to play in Green Bay and the NFL, bordering on the fairytale." Makes me wish we would've nabbed him somewhere along the way as one of our coaches.

Monday, January 26, 2009

There is no cold, only Trgovac.

The Packers’ hiring of Mike Trgovac has sent a serious message that cannot be ignored. Contrary to some who say it was done in an attempt to get high profile assistants because of growing unrest among Packer fans, it was done to address one issue and this one issue only that reared its ugly head last season: For some inexplicable reason, the Green Bay Packers defensive line began wearing long sleeves in the cold. This is not something that should be allowed to continue, and Trgovac will see to it that it stops. Immediately. If you play on the Frozen Tundra, you let the cold seep into your bones until it becomes a part of you, much like the desire to bury a RB three yards deep in the hole or planting a QB like he’s an apple seed should be a part of you.

Whisper the name Trgovac in World War I era Austria, and you would see hardened Axis soldiers visibly shiver with fear. The actual details of Vranzek Trgovac’s legendary feats of battle fighting for the Serbian army against the invading Austro-Hungarians during the winter of 1914 are still not entirely known. But it is said that he singlehandedly defeated two Austrian companies in one of the coldest weeks in European history. The ill-equipped Serbs often had to make do without warm uniforms, and Vranzek took this to extreme. He could often be seen on the battlefield with no boots and no shirt standing on piles of fallen foes. He was also overheard telling fellow soldiers that the heat of battle and the blood of his enemies kept him warm. The family lines get blurry following WWI, but at some point Vranzek Trgovac’s family made his way to the United States and settled near Youngstown, Ohio. I think you see where this is going. I mean how many Trgovacs can there be? It’s not exactly as common as Smith or Johnson.

Mike McCarthy has put a man whose ancestor struck fear into the hearts of his enemies in charge of a group of players who forgot their identity last year (with the exception of Aaron Kampman). The love of cold and an unstoppable battle frenzy has been bred into Mike Trgovac, and he will not quit until his troops embrace this love of frigid temps and combat as their own. The Mike Trgovac Manifesto states: “As MY defensive lineman, you have no need for long sleeves, you feel no cold, and you embrace battle with your very souls. You will crush your enemies in my name, for I am TRGOVAC!”

That’s my kind of guy. Fear Trgovac and fear The Rant.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rest easy. The end is not, in fact, nigh.

I’m not sure if you’ve read The Watchmen or not, but if you have, you’ve seen the guy who pops up every few pages carrying a cardboard sign that says, “The End is Nigh”. He’s a crazy looking redhead wearing a beat-up trench coat and fingerless gloves. Do you want to know an interesting tid-bit about that guy? Yeah? Okay. His name is Mike Vandermoose and he writes for the Green Bay Press Gazette. His doom-and-gloom pandering to Favre-o-philes, Ted Thompson haters, and Mike McCarthy detesters is legendary in Packer “fan” circles. He is their spiritual leader. I use the term “fan” here very loosely, as no one could read and believe his negative tripe and still claim to be a fan as they undoubtedly prance around their backyards in Bear’s jerseys and tin-foil hats.

It’s sad to say, but I can bet, and feel very certain, that he was happy the Packers went 6-10 this past season, as it actually gave him something he could write about. Say we went 10-6 and made the playoffs. Couldn’t you just imagine him sitting in his office at 1:00am staring at a blank screen while the cursor blinked menacingly at him as he tried to write a positive story? I could. Take this little doozy, or this one. They are so full of anger, spite, and passive-aggressiveness; you have to begin to wonder what the Packers management did to him. “Ooooh, Mikey, did they move your chaiwr into the back duwing pwess confrwences? Ooo, po’ baby.” I mean, even when he tries to say hiring Dom Capers as Defensive Coordinator was good, he just cannot do it without filling the article with backhanded jabs.

Let's get real, in two weeks, everyone is 0-0. Time to be optimistic. But if you read Vandermoose, you’d assume that the Packers would be better off applying to get into the CFL next year rather than even taking the field. I, for one, am increasingly optimistic and excited for next year’s Packers’ squad. Changes on D, no Favre fiasco, it should be fun. As the Electric Light Orchestra said, “Don’t bring me down, Moose!” Err…something like that.

Now, Mike Vandermoose is not really the guy in The Watchmen, he’s nowhere near cool enough. But every time I read something by him, I picture a man in the not-too-distant future, wearing a dirty trench coat, shuffling along Lombardi Avenue carrying a sign saying, “The End is Nigh”. He has a slow, plodding walk and his crazy eyes never seem to be able to focus on the cars driving by and honking, full of Packer fans celebrating a Super Bowl victory.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ted Thompson: Nice Hair. Questionable GM.

On one hand, you’ve got a GM who’s put together a young and talented team and kept us under the salary cap year after year. On the other, you have the man at the center of Favregate and the mastermind behind numerous questionable moves. When it comes to TT, I’m pretty sure the only thing Packer fans can agree on is that he has really nice silky silver hair. I mean, his hair is like the real world equivalent of J. Peterman. He must use a lot of conditioner – probably Pert Plus. Because it’s shampoo and conditioner in one, Thompson undoubtedly considers Pert Plus a double threat, much like Will Blackmon.

I could go on and on about the good, bad and ugly decisions Thompson has made so far, but in the end it all boils down to wins and losses. So why not compare Ted’s first four years as the Packers’ GM against the first four years of his predecessor, Mike Sherman. Seems logical, fair and controversial.

Ted Thompson (2005-2008)
Record: 31-33 (.484 winning %)
Average Record: 8-8
Playoff Appearances: 1
Playoff Record: 2-1

Mike Sherman (2000-2003)
Record: 43-21 (.672 winning %)
Average Record: 11-5
Playoff Appearances: 3
Playoff Record: 2-3

And Thompson had 6 years GM experience doing this versus Sherman, who had zero experience as a GM?… or as a head coach?… and he did them both, you say? Really? REALLY? Yes.

Are the Packers regressing with Ted Thompson as GM? Was 13-3 a fluke? I certainly hope not but forgive me if I’m not feeling optimistic after looking at the numbers. Say what you want, but Sherman brought us 3 NFC North crowns and we contended every year save one. With Thompson, we had one remarkable year and three flubs. I’m not saying but I’m just saying…

And the irony is that I want Ted Thompson to do well – we all should. Despite all the glaring whiteheads, if Thompson does well, so do the Packers. I could care less who’s our GM as long as the Green & Gold contends and Packer pride swells. But as long as Thompson’s team is doing crappy and he’s pissing people off in the process, he might as well be wearing purple to me.

Final Grade: C

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

4-Year Grades

Who is the most polarizing figure in recent Packer history? Other than, "He's going to return the punt." "No, he's going to fumble when the ball bounces off his facemask." "No, he's going to return the punt." "No, he's going to fumble when the ball bounces off his facemask" T-Buck. Ding, ding, ding! That's right: Ted Thompson.

I have decided to assign grades to Ted Thompson on his four-year tenure with Packers. I chose to ignore his first stint in the offices at 1265 Lombardi Ave, although you should check out his bio. It is an interesting read.

People Skills: F TT is notoriously prickly and lacks the muscles needed to smile for longer than 3 seconds. He keeps his cards close to his chest and will maul anyone who tries to peek. This is not a bad thing. He is a man's-man, and I would rather have a mean S.O.B. running my team than Sugar Bear (scroll to: Other Uses, #5).
Drafts: C Produced Aaron Rodgers, Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Braveleg, and if nothing else gets a slap on the back for sheer number of picks accumulated. He drops considerably in grade when you apply his philosophy about building through the draft and then a lack of immediate production by rookies, especially in 2008. Jordy Nelson was the only draftee to see significant time on the field. I think Justin Harrell has gotten about ten second chances – don't you usually only get one? Unless, you're Robert Downey Jr., I guess.
Free Agency: C Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett earn high marks, but Brandon "I look like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, please love me" Chillar did little to bolster the linebacking corps, which was obviously a weakness this past season. Other than these guys, it appears TT fears free agency like it's a flesh-eating virus. Fine, stick to what you know I guess, but one free agent can make all the difference. Jordan Gross {a-hem}.
Trades: B Stingy guys don't give up a lot. TT doesn't give up a lot. Read that as you will. He stole Ryan Grant from the bottom of the Giants' RB crew. Well done, I say. Other than that, he gets a whole boatload of draft picks. Fine, when you need them for the shotgun approach.
Salary Cap: B Give it to Jennings. Give it to Collins. You saved it, now do it. If he wants to reward from within, I get that, but lining a free agent's pockets with $100 bills and Johnsonville brats can also be a productive way of spending your money too.
Northeastern WI Ric Flair Lookalike Contest: A+ Every time the camera pans to Thompson in his private suite, I'm certain he is one Rodgers to Jennings TD away from standing up and screaming, "WHOOOOOO!" You've thought of this, I know you have.

Overall: C Could have been better (Randy Moss), could have been worse (we could still have Mike Sherman). If nothing else, he provides a viable topic of conversation among Packer fans which is all anyone can really ask for, right?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Fall Guy(s)

Following the purge of the Packers defensive coaching staff, special teams coach, and strength coach, a purge that resembled a college freshman’s first introduction to keg stands, Mike McCarthy has been on the lookout for a new Defensive Coordinator. Presumably, this new coordinator will be expected to put a slightly higher amount of pressure on opposing QBs, than outgoing coordinator, Bob Sanders. McCarthy and Ted Thompson have made Sanders and Mike Stock the fall guys for the Packers embarrassing drop from NFL elite to a team to a team with a top ten draft pick.

Being a Fall Guy isn’t easy, the daily grind of being a movie stuntman, a job where the only acknowledgement you get is in the closing credits of movie, followed by moonlighting as a bounty hunter takes its toll. Your bones creak, your face looks like a tenderized piece of beef, your defensive line consistently fails at bringing any type of pressure, you wreck your cars over and over, your linebacking corps is constantly out of position and pushed around, your punter couldn't have beat the 12-13 year olds in the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition, and you used to be the Six Million Dollar Man. This stuff is not easy to deal with. It eats at you.

I may have muddled that up a bit but you get my drift. Do I think it was the right move to let Sanders, Stock, and the other go? Absolutely. But behind every Fall Guy, there should be a more thorough examination of what led to their termination. In the case of Mike Stock and Bob Sanders, you need only look to this man. Now admittedly, Matt Mosley clowns on White a bit (I’m sure he was corrected by people with knowledge of Tracy White’s career and life accomplishments Update: He was suspended for a week by ESPN for this transgression and forced to watch clips of Tracy White’s play), but the quote says it all. Thanks, Jarrett Bush for effing that play up. When the greatest special teams player in the history of football is released mid-season, you know the Special Teams coach is sure to follow once the unit’s production suffers accordingly. Following his forced retirement, Stock had this to say about 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 different aspects of the Big Four, if you will, of the return aspects and the coverage aspects of the game with the young guys.”

White’s release also lead to the termination of Sanders as well. Once Nick Barnett got hurt, Tracy White filled in admirably for him on defense….oh wait, that is what should have happened. Oh well, bye-bye, Bob Sanders.

Let’s hope in the future that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are better judges of talent AND leadership AND world-dominating play, or at least listen to the new coaches’ opinions on the matter. After all, what’s the point of hiring them if you cut their legs out mid-season?

Tracy White fact of the Day: Tracy White is the reason the Eagles are in the NFC Championship Game.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

BRING BRETT BACK!! (as Rodgers’ backup)

Relax! Keep your voice down. Why are you freaking out? Man, I guess the name Brett Favre still conjures a few emotions despite that fact that:

A) He took a dump in New York and won’t be welcome back.

2) Rodgers played like a Pro Bowler.

Here’s the deal. Rodgers is obviously still the guy in ’09. He’s proven he’s very capable, confident and pretty darn tough too. Packer nation is lucky this guy worked out and we locked him in, otherwise we could’ve been 0-16. With Favre as the #2, he might only take a few snaps during blowout games and for those die-hard Favre fans still out there, there’d be that sliver of hope Favre would rally us to victory one more time in the event Rodgers gets hurt.

Because we all know it’s not going to be Brian Brohm. Or Matt Flynn. Or whoever the backup QB is, I can’t remember.

There’s no quarterback controversy. You have a clear-cut decision between Rodgers and Favre for the starting QB and it rhymes with Flarin’ Flodgers, not Flett Blarve.

For Favre, he can take one for the Packers in a backup, veteran role while finishing his career where it matters. It’s a chance to make amends for all the B.S. waffling he put us through. And just for good measure, it’ll be written into his contract to mentor the younger players and have them over for steak and beers or whatever social things Greybeard apparently hasn’t done since the 90s.

The players will be happy. The coaches will be happy. Favre will be happy. And perhaps most importantly, we the fans will be happy.
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