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. 

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...

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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

With Humbleness & Heart: The Tracy White Story (Part 1)

Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport
Followers of the Packer Ranter have long known of our affinity toward former NFL Special Teams standout Tracy White (Examples here, here, here, here, and the rest here.). In his short time as a Packer, White developed cult hero status before being released in one of what some consider one of Ted Thompson’s most regrettable moves in an otherwise arguably stellar tenure as Green Bay’s General Manager.  

While we didn’t know where he came from and what we had time at the time, we knew he was special. He always seemed to be around the ball making plays. He was electric, giving maximum effort at all times. In other words, the kind of player that makes it easy for fans to cheer.

Since his departure, I have casually followed his career from a distance, finding his name occasionally in footnotes and comments but always rooting for him. For the first time ever, I decided to dig deeper into White’s history. How did he develop into a true specialist? Why did he bounce around to so many teams?

What follows is a dive into some of Tracy White’s most memorable performances and history throughout his playing career that I could find. I hope you will find it as interesting and surprising as I have…

The Early Years
Tracy White is from a town of less than 2,000 people in South Carolina called St. Stephen. When he was in elementary school, White’s father had to undergo surgery for a brain tumor and essentially lost his vision. Although he was given only years to live at the time, Tracy’s father has persevered to this day and Tracy has often cites him as part of his own inspiration.

As expected in a small school, a gifted athlete such as White dominated in many sports but at one point, thought the Army was his future. Without any appealing football scholarships coming in, he had actually secretly planned to enlist in his brother’s footsteps but when his mother found out, she told him to finish high school first. A good thing she did – White eventually received a scholarship from Howard University.

For the Division 1-AA Bisons in the MEAC, White was simply outstanding. According to several sources, he not only played all 44 games but also became the school’s all-time leading tackler with 500. That’s an average of 11+ tackles a game. That literally almost never happens.

In fact, I was only able to find 5 players since 2000 who have surpassed 500 career college tackles with Tim McGarigle and Luke Kuechly leading the way. (For the sake of comparison, Zach Thomas had 390 career college tackles and former Packers first-round pick AJ Hawk had 394, respectively.)

It’s no surprise White was also two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and the Black College Defensive Player of the Year. He’s also part of an extremely elite club, having earned Black College All-American honors three consecutive times. The other members: Antoine Bethea, Steve McNair and Shannon Sharpe.

Ridiculous Speed
White was projected to be taken in the 7th round but ended up going undrafted altogether. However, Seattle Seahawks linebackers coach John Marshall pushed to the team to sign him and it paid off. White was signed by the Seahawks in 2003 under then General Manager Bob Ferguson and Vice President of Operations (and now Packers GM), Ted Thompson.

Listed at 5-11 ft. and 228 lbs. coming out of college, White was understandably viewed as too small for an NFL linebacker and often mistaken for a secondary player (this would be an ongoing theme in his NFL career). In addition, the Seahawks linebacking corps was stocked with veterans. Thankfully for White, there was one area where he excelled tremendously: speed.

White wasn’t just fast, he was supersonic.

With LBs Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons both nursing injuries early in the season, they needed a replacement. According to SeattleTimes reporter Les Carpenter, “Then it was impossible to miss Tracy White.” Carpenter reported White ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds and the Seattle Times reported coaches clocked him at 4.4 twice. But let that 4.3 number sink in for a moment.

Here are the fastest times ever recorded by linebackers at the combine.
“Yes, he’s that fast,” GM Ferguson said at the time. “Ohhhh yes, he’s that fast.”

In fact, no quarterback, tight end or safety in history has matched that speed at the combine that was reported with Tracy White. That includes Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III and Vernon Davis. (Trindon Holiday set the record in 2010 at 4.21). Packers speedster Jeff Janis ran a 4.42 at the 2014 combine.

SEA @ AZ, October 24, 2004: White’s First Start at Linebacker
The Seahawks were not only dealing with linebacker injuries to their team’s leading tackler, but they were also coming off a failed comeback against the Patriots the week before. They had lost 20-30 in a game that gave New England the NFL record for the most consecutive regular season wins at 20.

Conversely, the Cardinals were home and hungry coming out of their bye week, having lost a tough OT game to the 49ers in a week 5. That matchup saw Tim Rattay throw for 417 yards and set the 49ers single-season record for most completions in a game (38), breaking Joe Montana’s record of 37.

The Seahawks-Cardinals game would also see its own share of significant history. For one, Arizona’s Emmitt Smith was going against Seattle’s Jerry Rice, who was acquired just days earlier. It was the first time in 20 years the all-time rushing leader and all-time reception leader faced each other. 
Via USA Today
While Rice was quiet, Smith eventually scored the game-winner on a 23-yard run that also earned him the honor of having most 100-yard games in a career (78) surpassing Walter Payton’s mark.

In addition, Neil Rackers would tie Morten Andersen’s record with three field goals from at least 50 yards.

The game itself was won by Arizona 25-17 but it probably shouldn’t have even been that close. Seattle’s offense was atrocious, with Matt Hasslebeck going just 14-41 with 4 interceptions but later owning it. “You can put all the blame on me,” he said.

It was only Seattle’s defense that kept them in the game, led by none other than Tracy White.

Replacing a 1st-round pick and team-leading tackler in Seattle’s Simmons with a 2nd-year undrafted player in White already had Seattle coaches a little nervous. As the Seattle Times reported:

"It's interesting," (Coach Mike) Holmgren said. "You go into the game with Tracy White from Howard University… and we’re all worried about Tracy White.”

That worry would later be transformed into high praise.

The Cardinals seemed to test White throughout the game with their future Hall of Fame running back being led by 265-pound TE Freddie Jones and 381-pound tackle Leonard Davis. But White was having none of it. Their first attempt went as follows: 

White would go on to stuff the stat sheet that day, leading both teams with 10 solo tackles and 13 total tackles – even contributing a sack on another future Hall of Famer and then-Cardinal’s rookie on the very first offensive play of the game.

Once again from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"It was a good feeling," White said. "My very first start I get to go up against Emmitt Smith. That's something I'm going to keep in my head."

His performance did not go unnoticed by the staff. 


Hundley, Hundley, Hundley

Friday, August 12, 2016

Farewell, Packer Fans

Thank you all for coming. It is with a heavy heart that I am standing before you all today. While there may be sadness, there is also a sense of hope and anticipation of the unknown.

There comes a time in everyone’s career when they realize that it is time to move on, to pursue other interests, to set new goals and work toward achieving them. I have come to that point. I look forward to waking up on a Sunday and not having to leave my family and go to work. I look forward to exploring new places, trying to new hobbies and, frankly, just relaxing on the couch.

When I think back on my career, I realize how unique it was. People hadn’t seen something like me before. That’s not me being arrogant, that’s just the era that it was. I’d like to think that I brought people joy and satisfaction. That just for a little while, they could forget about their problems be it work, or money, or certainly their health. I did things differently than those before me, I did things my way, and in the end, I think people appreciated that. I want to thank the fans for their support these past two years. I couldn’t have succeeded without them and their hunger for greatness.

Lambeau Field is a special place, and I will always cherish my two years here. I couldn’t have hoped to work with a more professional group of people, people so happy and willing to serve the fans of the Green Bay Packers. I’d like to thank Mark Murphy for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the team. I also would be remiss if I didn’t thank the stadium crew who made each and every game day possible. The professionalism and dedication you displayed is second to none. To the hundreds of concessions staff and volunteers, you are the real pros. You put me in position to succeed and excel, and I can never thank you enough. You will always be in my casing.

In closing, I would say that this is not the end of the ol’ Horse Collar, but rather a new beginning. Packer fans should create me at home, experiment with new toppings, try different cheeses and breads, go crazy….but don’t ever forget the sauerkraut. The 'kraut is what always made me tick. Please keep me in your stomachs and small intestines always because you will have a place in my bun forever.

Thank you. Good eating, and GO, PACK, GO.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mildly Triumphant Return...and Craig Zelinski

*taps Paul Hornung bobblehead, blows dust off computer, cracks knuckles....gets back up and grabs a beer*

"Okay, Frank, lets get going. It's like riding a bike, you'll get the hang of it again."

Hello everyone. It has been quite some time since I've written anything, but the upcoming Packers' season has me excited, so I felt the need to put some ink to paper....better check my emails first.

Sifting through countless emails from the Packers Pro Shop and bulk-sauerkraut.com brought me to this fairly interesting(?) email:

I knew the Richard Klatt anti-hard count letter-to-the-editor got a fair amount of play, especially when Aaron Rodgers shared his feelings on it, but I never thought it would inspire copycats, certainly not to me. It was a gross oversight on my part that I didn't get to this until now. I could have followed up with Mr. Zelinski's email sooner and picked his brain on Luke Getsy's crazy wide receiver drills and Dom Capers' hair or hair piece and whether the Bengals should change their name to the Cincinnati Harambes. It seems my dereliction of duty to Packers' fans has caused me to miss out on any further nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Zelinski outside of his insights into Sam Shields' speed. In an effort to rectify this, I have reached out to Craig and asked him to share any ideas he may have on the upcoming season or really any topics. Hopefully, he hasn't been offended by my previous lack of communication, as he truly seems like a fascinating Packers fan.

Ask you can probably tell, my attention span is shorter than the time it takes Mike Daniels to turn the opposing offensive line into whimpering children, but I promise that I will keep writing this season...and find Craig Zelinski.

Go, Pack.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Squirrel Melts. Gold Jackets. Pushing it REAL GOOD!

You’ve heard of tuna melts or patty melts… why not squirrel melts? (Start at :33)

Now, I’ve come around slightly to the creativity of utilizing the “free-range chicken of the tree.” There are strong arguments to be made for depopulating these little, grey nibbling nuisances alone. But for most, these are not desperate end times that necessitate rodent consumption and let’s be real: some things just don’t go together, man.

For those of us who respect and appreciate true, natural partnerships, I hereby submit the following:

Jerry Kramer and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jim Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderly, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo, Paul Horning, Willie Wood, Henry Jordan and Dave Robinson are all Lombardi-era players in Canton and deservedly so. But where is Kramer in this list? Why has he been so confusingly snubbed?

#64’s Canton absence may even come as a surprise to many and you wouldn’t be alone. Alicia Kramer, Jerry’s daughter, has almost single-handedly furthered the cause to get her father into the Hall. She has a great story where she was actually the one to inform Roger Goodell her dad hadn’t broken through yet.

Alicia is likely making one final push to get her dad into the HOF, and SO ARE WE. Jersey Al has put together a list of selection committee members (see below) so that fans like you and I can write them as well in hopes fulfilling her mission.

You won’t be alone. Along with the Ranter, these fine sites are using their Internetting Skillz to promote #JerryKramer4HOF. Look to them for inspiration if needed. 

Please join us. Write, tweet, message, etc. why you believe Jerry Kramer should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with #JerryKramer4HOF. These committee members are experts, mind you, and they know Jerry’s playing accolades better than most humans. Be kind, be respectful, be positive. But above all, believe in what you’re saying.

Here is my draft:

Dear Selection Committee Member,

The Pro Football Hall of Fame appears to have all the greatest Packers players from the Lombardi era minus one glaring omission: Jerry Kramer. That’s despite Kramer being voted the greatest guard in the NFL’s first 50 years, despite being the only player on the 50th Anniversary All-Time team not in the HOF, despite almost a decade of All-Pro play and despite emphatic support from fans and NFL icons alike.

While I’m too young to have seen him play, what’s so incredible to me is how Kramer has spent decades promoting the sport through books, appearances and countless speaking engagements – each time providing new insights for all generations of fans. There are few, bigger-than-life personalities who possesses the authenticity to captivate like Jerry Kramer. His seemingly unending enthusiasm for the game is beyond contagious as evidenced by anyone who has heard him speak or been in his presence.

I believe Jerry Kramer more than warrants being more than what seems like a footnote, asterisk or disclaimer in relation to Canton. In many minds, he is already a Hall of Famer but you have the opportunity to finally make it official and create true, satisfying closure to this man’s career and lifelong passion. I strongly encourage you to give Pro Football GREAT, Jerry Kramer, the gold jacket he deserves. It is time.


Robert Greenfield

Let’s work together and be part of something special. It may take 5 minutes but it would mean the world to Jerry, his family, Alicia Kramer, the Packers, the fans, the Greater Green Bay area, the NFL as a whole, America in general, and squirrels everywhere.



Pro Football Hall of Fame
Attention; Senior Selection Committee
2121 George Halas Dr. NW
Canton, OH 44708

Seniors Committee
Frank Cooney runs NFLDraftScout.com and The SportsXchange, one of the country's leading providers of sports data and analysis.
Sports Xchange
4632 Windsong St
Sacramento, CA 95834

Dan Pompei Bleacher Report has covered more than 500 National Football League games, including 26 Super Bowls. He was given the 2013 Dick McCann Award by the Pro Football Writers of America for long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football.
Twitter: DanPompei

Rick Gosselin has covered the NFL for 31 years, including the past 14 as NFL columnist for The Dallas Morning News.
Dallas Morning News
508 Young Street
Dallas, TX 75202
Facebook: richard.e.gosselin

John McClain has covered the Oilers, NFL and Texans for the Houston Chronicle. He has been a regular contributor to The Sports Xchange, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the NFL Network, Comcast, Fox Sports 1 and Sirius Radio.
Houston Chronicle
4747 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77027
Facebook: john.mcclain.52493

Ron Borges is a sportswriter for the Boston Herald. He has also written for the Boston Globe. Borges has been named Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by the National Association of Sportswriters and Sports Broadcasters five times since 1999.
70 Fargo Street
Boston, MA 02210
Twitter: RonBorges

Bernie Miklasz is an American sportswriter and sports radio personality. He was the lead sports columnist at the St. Louis Post Dispatch from 1999 to 2015. He hosts the morning show on 101 ESPN in St. Louis. Miklasz is a native of Baltimore, MD, and moved to St. Louis in 1985 to cover professional football for the Post-Dispatch. He has also worked at the Baltimore News-American and the Dallas Morning News.

101 ESPN St Louis
11647 Olive Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63141
Twitter: miklasz

John Czarnecki, whose first pro football interview was of Johnny Unitas in Buffalo’s War Memorial stadium for the Rochester Times-Union, has been the editorial consultant for Fox NFL Sunday since its inception 20 years ago. He previously worked at CBS Sports. The winner of four Sports Emmys for work on NFL studio shows, Czarnecki wrote the book “Football for Dummies” with Howie Long. Czar’s first full season covering the NFL was 1979 and he worked for such newspapers as the Herald-Examiner in Los Angeles and the The National Sports Daily. He has served nine times as a Super Bowl pool reporter and is a longtime selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a member of its Seniors Committee.
Ira Miller
Sports Xchange
4632 Windsong St
Sacramento, CA 95834

Jeff Legwold
Facebook: Jeff.Legwold

Full List of HOF Voters:

Kent Somers, Arizona Republic
Darryl Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal - Constitution
Scott Garceau, WMAR-TV
Vic Carucci, Buffalo News
Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk
Dan Pompei, Bleacher Report*
Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com
Tony Grossi, ESPNCleveland.com/WKNR Radio
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News*
Jeff Legwold, ESPN/ESPN.com
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
Green Bay
Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette
John McClain, Houston Chronicle*
Mike Chappell, RTV6 - ABC Affiliate Indianapolis
Sam Kouvaris, WJXT-TV
Kansas City
Randy Covitz, Kansas City Star
Armando Salguero, Miami Herald
Mark Craig, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
New England
Ron Borges, Boston Herald*
New Orleans
Jeff Duncan, Times-Picayune
New York (Giants)
Bob Glauber, Newsday
New York (Jets)
Gary Myers, New York Daily News
Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
Paul Domowitch, Philadelphia Daily News
Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
St. Louis
Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch*
San Diego
Nick Canepa, San Diego Union Tribune
San Francisco
Nancy Gay
Mike Sando, ESPN.com
Tampa Bay
Ira Kaufman, Tampa Tribune
David Climer, The Tennessean
David Elfin, DavidElfinonSports.com
Mary Kay Cabot, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer
At Large
Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange
At Large
Jarrett Bell, USA Today
At Large
John Clayton, ESPN
At Large
Jason Cole, BleacherReport.com
At Large
John Czarnecki, FOXSports.com*
At Large
Clark Judge, Talk of Fame Network and Yahoo Sports Radio
At Large
Peter King, Sports Illustrated
At Large
Ira Miller, The Sports Xchange*
At Large
Sal Paolantonio, ESPN
At Large
Vito Stellino, Florida Times Union
At Large
Jim Trotter, ESPN
At Large
Charean Williams, Ft. Worth Star Telegram
At Large
Barry Wilner, Associated Press

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