Thursday, June 16, 2011

Packers set for a real ring-ding tonight

Members of the World Champion Green Bay Packers will tonight receive the individual keepsake that every NFL player and coach longs for: their Super Bowl ring. In a private ceremony at Lambeau Field, members of the Super Bowl winning squad, as well as coaches and staff, will finally receive their prize. Yes, there was of course the money winnings. But the ring is what they all want. The final design has been a closely-guarded secret; word is that it will somehow represent all four of the Pack's Super Bowl wins as well as the franchise's NFL record 13 overall championships.

The Lambeau Field Atrium, typically open to the public year-round during regular business hours, will reportedly be closed at about 4 p.m. today to allow for preparations, with the ring ceremony set to start around 7 p.m.

To get a flavor of what the rings mean to current as well as former players, you'd do well to read this great article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Lori Nickel. While the players tonight are filled with anticipation, the players of past Packers championship teams are full of appreciation. LeRoy Butler, legendary safety from the Super Bowl XXXI championship team, is quoted in the article as saying, "When you actually put it on, you feel like you're not even worthy of it."

I won't detract from the rest of the article by trying to paraphrase it here. It's too good. Be sure to read it for some real insights into what this piece of jewelry really means to the players. And just know that, as each of the players, coaches and staff receive their rings, the great winning tradition of the best franchise in sports -- the Green Bay Packers -- continues.

Say it with me: It's great to be a Packers fan!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

NFL lockout cosmic debris, including an 8-game season

With a nod to the late, great Frank Zappa (cf., Cosmic Debris), let's catch up on a few bits and pieces of note from the cultural and sports wasteland currently known as the NFL lockout.

Donald Driver says Packers still basking in glow
On yesterday's edition of NFL Live on ESPN, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver said the Packers were still basking in the glow of their Super Bowl victory. Why not? Nothing much else going on. He also said that, while players from some other teams had taken it upon themselves to work out together, members of the Packers are working out on their own. Following the phone interview with Driver, commentators Mike Golic and Tedy Bruschi said they were a bit surprised at Driver's comments. Being a veteran, they felt he needed to be projecting more of a "that was then this is now" (paraphrasing) attitude; the Super Bowl is over and the Packers players better stop basking in the glow and begin preparing for the season...whenever that is. Perhaps once the Packers players receive their rings in a private ceremony on June 16 they can begin moving on. By the way, more than 8,500 fans attended the Donald Driver charity softball event held in Appleton on Sunday. The Packers defense beat the offense, if I recall. There were some press reports yesterday that coach Mike McCarthy spent a lot of time Sunday night watching tape of the game to see what kind of shape his players were in. While the players may or may not yet be chomping at the bit to get to work it's pretty clear the coaches are more than ready.

Free Agents
On this last weekend's radio edition of Pro Football Weekly, publisher and editor Hub Arkush mentioned that roughly 30 percent of current NFL players are free agents. He noted that there will have to be some window of time for teams to sign free agents when the lockout ends. Combined with the article in PFW today which states that the NFL has plans in place for an eight-game season kicking off in -- wait for it -- November, and we can only hope the players and NFL get a deal done ASAP. Holy dash to the cash, Batman! Eight games?! Criminy! But I guess that would be better than no games. Which, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, is a possibility. Didn't the NHL shut things down for a year? OK, no comparison in fan base, granted. But this is business with mega-dollars at stake, and if both sides continue to stay dug in anything can happen.

Let us pray...