Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My 2nd Date With a Bears Fan

Occasional Thought: There are things in life that are flexible. The Packers are not one of those things.

You see that watch pictured? I have one exactly like it – given to me on my 30th birthday by my godfather Stew, who used to take me to games when I was growing up. Fun fact about Stew – he has no hair from the knees down. As an insurance salesman for 20 years, he wore long, black dress socks and I think they rubbed off all his leg hair. His brother Arnie is the total opposite…hairiest legs since George the Animal Steele. Anyway, it’s my nicest (and only) watch and I thought it was an appropriate for a date night. Didn't think it would lead to the bar heckling my date.

Last we left off, Connie and I had just finished our first blind date after meeting online. We had dinner, watched a movie and played a little get-to-know-ya (no, not that kind). All of this happened with neither her affinity for the Bears nor my dedication for the Packers ever coming up. It was the polar opposite the second time around at Anduzzis. Halfway through the second High Life, I’m rambling on about this invention I once had for an office army knife and she busts out of nowhere, gesturing toward the watch, “So just how big of a Packer fan are you?”

“Pretty damn big,” I reply. “Just how big of a Bear fan are you?” I ask.

Connie smiles, stands up and announces, “Jay Cutler! Best quarterback in the division!”
She was immediately met by an entire bar of BOOS from the Green Bay locals, including me. “I’ve been living in Green Bay for two years. I’m used to it. It’s all good fun most of the time,” she tells me.

We debate Rodgers versus Cutler for another half hour and all she can hang her hat on is the 4500+ yards he threw for last year. I nail her in every other stat imaginable and top if off with Rodgers’ outstanding professionalism for three years as Favre’s backup whereas Cutler basically whined his way out of Denver. Game. Set. Match.

It was fun because it never got ugly. Maybe this will work out? After all, just think of all the odd couples over the years. Ashton and Demi. Billy Bob and Angelina. Madonna and A-Rod. Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts. Michael Jackson and McCaulay Culkin. OK, forget the last one.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Curse of Tracy White Lifted

Special teams just doesn't get the attention it deserves, much like Donny Kerabatsos. That said, I have a deep affinity for special teams and special teams players. It might be because special teams play is about hard work and desire as much skill and talent. Ignoring, or at least devaluing special teams last year was a large contibutor to the Packers 6-10 record. The crowning (or actually whatever the negative equivalent to crowning is...beheading?) moment of this neglect was the release of Special Team Player of the Century, Tracy White.

This is why the Clay Matthews' pick is fantastic for the Packers. Not only do they get a starting OLB opposite A. Kampman, they get the best special teams player in the draft, and he immediately becomes the best special teams player on the team...well, outside of Braveleg Crosby. Matthews work ethic and desire trasnformed him from walk-on to star in his time at USC. Special teams play was a huge part of that:
"Obviously, coming in as a walk-on, I knew I'd have to make my name through
special teams. I was able to be co-special teams player (of the year) for
the past three years. And that does sit well with many NFL teams in the fact
that they're only allowed to dress so many players and a lot of them need to
contribute on special teams. And that's what I consider my bread and butter
and that's what got me to where I am today and to be able to play
linebacker. It's just something I really appreciate and understand the value of and would love to do for years to come."
You cannot read that and not get excited to have this kid on the team 1) lining up on D with Kampman, Barnett, and Hawk and 2) flying down the field with reckless abandon destroying all those standing in his way. I mean, he looks like a Spartan...not a Trojan.

Tracy White fact of the day: Tracy White does not get impressed. Ever. He saw Clay Matthews III play and was impressed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BJ Raji Haiku

I woke up nervous
I woke up with butterflies
I didn't sleep much

Haunted with bad dreams
Of some more wide receivers
We didn't quite need

But that darn TT
Surprised not only this guy
But most Packer fans

The ninth overall
And first pick for the Packers
Is a guy we need

This is not a joke
This is the real deal my friends
Raji is all ours

This is a dream pick
Which has to please everyone
On many levels

Whatever happens
The day belongs to GB
And some to TT

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

With the Number 9 Pick.....

My Ranter colleague, John Johnson, affectionately know around here as “The Company Man”, as he has never disagreed with Packers' management under Ted Thompson, recently suggested I use The Packer Ranter as a platform for an incredibly devious draft-altering tactic. Being a man of tremendous integrity (as is Johnson usually), I dismissed him immediately. But after mulling it over for some time, I have become convinced that the idea has significant merit. It seems that Johnson has become enamored with Alabama tackle, Andre Smith....with good reason. Four months ago, he was best player in the draft and the #1 overall pick; a couple bumps along the road in the past few months have tattooed a question mark on his chest. Johnson’s suggestion is as follows: someone needs to drop a little false information to scare off the 8 teams ahead of the Packers.

You’d think it would be hard to scare off 8 teams from a stud offensive lineman, but all these teams are going to need is just a little push, they are already scared as hell of screwing up their pick. Continuing in the vein of fake Facebook friend requests and leaking false failed drug tests, I have already emailed the front offices of the Lions, Rams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Browns, Bengals, Raiders, and Jaguars the following memo:

General Manager:
I feel it is important to let you know that I recently saw a certain draft prospect from Alabama get arrested in downtown Minneapolis along with an official from the Minnesota Vikings. I understand that NFL teams are not allowed to host players at this time, so I am unsure why the Vikings are violating NFL Policy (you may want to contact the Commissioner about this). But I digress, I was driving and saw said prospect trying to run from the police officers chasing him. He was visibly winded and out-of-shape, and could not push a female police officer off his chest when she tackled him (she may have weighed all of 110 lbs.) I feel it is important for you to know this, as you are facing a very important decision for you and your franchise. I implore you to make the right one; do not draft this prospect with your first round pick. Getting arrested a week before the draft should ensure that you remove him from your draft board. Apparently, his new agent has done a good job of covering this story up, but you can never trust an agent, am I right? Good luck to you and your team in the future.

Franklin Hillside
Concerned NFL Fan


My message to Ted Thompson immediately following the above emails:

Ted,
Taken care of. You can thank The Ranter and me for the next 10 years.

Franklin

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sign Up Now

By far, the toughest ticket in pro sports is for the Green Bay Packers. Every game at Lambeau Field has been sold out since 1960. That’s almost 50 years of diehard dedication from the best fans in the world. And that’s despite having the smallest local TV market in the NFL.

With about 80,000 postcards like this one being sent out every year to hopeful fans, there’s over a 100-year wait to receive season tickets. 100 years! I mean, what other team has such dedication that people actually list family members in their will as recipients of their future season tickets? Frankly that impresses the hell out of me.

There’s other NFL squadrons with waiting lists, too. Eight other teams have waiting lists more than five years with the next-longest wait at about 30 years for Redskins tickets. That’s admirable, but nowhere near 100 years admirable. And 13 teams have no waiting list at all, including the Cowboys. And they brand themselves as America’s team? I don’t think so.

So how does one sign up? According to Packers.com, to add a name to the list, send a written request and include the name, address, phone number and the number of tickets requested (limit four) to:

Packers Ticket Office
P.O. Box 10628
Green Bay, WI 54307-0628

Good luck! Our great-great grandchildren will thank us.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Too Much Mandex, Not Enough Football

There are a many ridiculous things that occur leading up to the NFL draft. Team shrinks asking prospects about their parents' divorce and then being surprised when they don't necessarily feel like talking about it. Teams posing as women on Facebook and MySpace to try and learn about prospects' internet presence (this is seriously hilarious: "Oh, yeah, I work as a scout for an NFL team. What do I scout? Ummm...you know.....well, I pretend to be a woman and send them friend requests on Facebook and MySpace; I'm a character scout." Wow.). Leaking of drug test info...that is (allegedly) wrong. GMs trying to mislead other GMs about who they are impressed or unimpressed with. Sure, this all ends up being mildly entertaining (it would be better is they released the results of the friend requests), and it fills the time between free agency and the draft, but there is one utterly ridiculous thing that needs to be eliminated from the Draft Hoopla. This is not negotiable. It happens at the Combine and is even worse at College Pro Days.

Watch this and see if you can guess what I'm talking about.

Seeing one of the great physical comedians of our time and the Swayz' encased like a sausage from the waist down would be painful if it weren't so damn funny (that is seriously one of Farley's best skits, in my not-so-humble opinion). The combine and pro days offer this same painful viewing without any of the side-splitting laughter. Is it too much to ask these guys to wear some looser-fitting gear, like a pair of sweatpants? Spandex is for bikers and swimmers....and cheerleaders, not for grown men and definitely not for grown men who are on TV. That is, unless you are trying to get a laugh or biking through the French Alps like this guy.

In fact as long as we're changing things, why doesn't the NFL make these little show-and-tell days actually worth something? Have these guys strap on a helmet and some shoulderpads. I mean, what difference does it make if you can run fast in a straight line without your gear on? You don't see many game situations where guys are shirtless and wearing bike shorts....thank god. As long as we're at it, why don't we put two other guys out there to chase them, if they catch him, they can tackle him. Game situation here, fellas.

If you can't tell, I'm getting very tired of waiting for the draft. Hopefully, I can think of something more positive for my next Rant than whining about mandex.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just who is Duke Preston?

For the second move of the seemingly long and uneventful offseason, the Packers acquired guard/center Duke Preston. You might already know a little about this guy – he’s built like a tank (6’5, 326), versatile on the line and McCarthy thinks “he's more of an athlete.” (Glad to hear we’re finally getting the athletes.) But I wanted to get beyond his American beauhunk frame and delve a little into the personal side of Mr. Duke. Like, what’s his favorite color? Mac or PC? Has he ever had a bratwurst? If he could only have one superpower, what would it be and why? You know, the usual.

I’m assuming Duke’s been pretty busy with the offseason workouts and cruising College Ave. in Appleton because he hasn’t responded to my emails yet. That’s OK because I was still able to pluck a few nuggets from the world wide interweb.

His full name is Raymond Newton Preston III (“Duke” was definitely the right call.) He’s a San Diego native, who lettered all four years in football and baseball – even was all-academic, which had to please Packer management. Duke’s dad actually played 9 years in the NFL with the Chargers. Here’s his 1980 Topps rookie card, currently selling for around $10 in mint condition on ebay – that tells you he was a decent player.

While pursuing his speech communications degree at Illinois, Duke played behind an all-American center in Luke Butkus. Luke never panned out as a pro and is a Bears O-line coach now. And if “Butkus” sounds familiar – and of course it does – it’s because Luke is the nephew of Mr. Dick himself. And everyone remembers Dick Butkus as the amiable owner of Klawicki’s, the apartment diner in the hit series “My Two Dads.” According to IMDB and vague memories from the late 80s, Dick left the show after three years (undisclosed reasons) and the show got canned soon after, meaning the Butkus was undoubtedly the show’s ubiquitious impetus. But I’m getting sidetracked here.

So how much of an impact is Duke Preston going to have on the Packers? No clue. But I can tell you he is one of the best golfers in the NFL, his favorite athlete ever in the world was Muhammed Ali, and he frequently dreams about going to school naked. (note: I could not confirm the dreams part, but hasn’t everyone had that dream at one point?) Everybody say, “Hi, Duke!”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You Made a Draft Machine Out of a DeLorean?

Days until the draft.....too many. It is so dead in the Packer news department that Packer nation furiously took it upon itself to analyze the Cutler-to-Chicago trade upside down and inside out and from every angle in between, basically beating it to within inches of its death. The Journal Sentinel has even taken to following Aaron Rodgers' time off (it looks like he's having fun if you are wondering) and comparing him to Jay Fiedler. Gag me.

We are also to the point of the off-season where "experts'" and wannabe experts' third and fourth mock drafts are coming out following the College Pro Days. Do I enjoy these mock drafts? Sort of, and I enjoy mocking them, as well. They are an excellent piece of fiction to peruse while waiting for the real thing. But it has now gone too far with the advent of The Draft Machine. Now every Tom, Bears fan, and Harry can create their own mock draft and submit it to ESPN. I can only imagine the presentation of this idea to ESPN management went something like:

"Have you ever wanted to be as irrelevant as Todd McShay? Have you ever wanted to not have to care about being wrong like Don Banks? Do you wish you could pretend to tell the future and have people listen like to you like Mel Kiper Jr.? Do you believe you can read the minds of 32 NFL general managers like Mike Mayock? Of course you do, and so will the masses, have I got just the thing for you: The ESPN Draft Machine."

Great Scott! PLEASE make it stop! ESPN used to be about sports news, can we get back to that simpler time? Not only did you just have to move the coffin that Kiper Jr. sleeps in during the day deeper into the bowels of The Leader to make room for a new server, you are cheapening all the REAL work these draft guys do. They do excellent research and are very talented evaluators, let them be the "experts" and stop making them do mock drafts, in fact remove mock drafts from your site and programming altogether. They are pointless, rampant speculation. Keep the mock drafts in an arena for mocking, like blogs! At least on a blog, people usually write a defense of their picks, The Draft Machine is just-drag-and-drop. Even for something as pointless as a Mock Draft, that's lazy. Draft Day, where are you????

Thank God for baseball right now!

Update: Don Banks at SI agrees with me, let these guys do more of this. Please!
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