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A strange possible twist of history

Along with a message for 2017


Bill from Liverpool, NY

Insiders, just a comment on the question about African-American QBs for the Packers. Joe Francis threw two TDs during the 1958 season. He was born in Hawaii, but I believe he was referred to as being African-American in books about Bart Starr.

Good to know.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

Jayrone Elliott was one of the guys on my and many people's lists to keep an eye on. In an offseason interview he said, "Knowing you had such powerful guys in front of you, you know how things are going to play out, and I didn't give myself a fair chance, mentally." This doesn't bode well in my mind. Good players need a killer instinct, the no-one-is-better-than-me mentality. This seems like, "Well, it's not my year, too many good guys ahead of me." I'm not sure that's something you can change. I appreciate the honesty but wish he would have kept that to himself. Think the coaches heard that?

I think they saw it last year, and it's a reason Elliott didn't get as many snaps on defense as expected. I**found his candor about last year**refreshing, and human. But it was all about last year, and it's absolutely something he can change, and plans to.

Jim from Baytown, TX

Best defensive play in Packers history: Tom Brown intercepting Don Meredith in the end zone to seal the 1966 NFL Championship and send the Packers to SB I. Dave Robinson played a key role in forcing the interception. This play happened on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line with the Packers up by seven. No bigger situation, no bigger historical implications. Absolutely the No. 1 defensive play in Packers history.

I won't argue with you, or the multiple readers who said the same thing.

Morgan from Minneapolis, MN

Don't believe the best Packers defensive play of my lifetime has been mentioned yet. Jan. 6, 1996, Candlestick Park. Wayne Simmons' hit on fullback Adam Walker forced a fumble, which Craig Newsome scooped up for a 31-yard touchdown to give Green Bay a 7-0 lead. Simmons' "shot heard 'round the world" put Green Bay back on the map. Until then, Favre, White, Holmgren and company were just potential. That play ignited a victory against the reigning-champion 49ers. It wasn't just SF, Dallas and the rest of the league after that play.

No, it wasn't.

Josh from Phoenix, AZ

Covering them or not, Al Harris' walk-off INT vs. the Seahawks in 2003 was an all-time great.

Several mentioned this one. I was not covering that game, so I didn't include it, but it's memorialized on the wall amongst many iconic Lambeau Field moments in the hallway just outside the locker room.

Austin from Schuylerville, NY

Mike, I know there are too many defensive plays to remember, but how about Tramon's pick-six against Atlanta in the playoffs before halftime? Maybe not a critical point in the game but the Falcons were driving into FG range only down seven. That totally changed the momentum and the Pack never looked back.

Huge oversight on my part. Thank you (and others). That would not only be on my list but at or near the top.

George from Atlanta, GA

In addition to Franklin, Finley and Collins, these seven other Packers had career-ending neck injuries: DL Jeremy Thompson ('09), G Tony Palmer ('07), WR Terrence Murphy ('06), S Gary Berry ('00), WR Sterling Sharpe ('94), LB Johnny Holland ('93), CB Tim Lewis ('86). Murphy was drafted in the second round of 2005, just seven picks after Collins. Also, Sharpe's stats so dominated the NFL's WR position in his six years with GB that his path into the HOF seemed inevitable. Both Sharpe and Lewis were first-round picks. That's a lot of lost talent.

I still remember as a kid watching the Monday night game against the Bears when Lewis went down. It's a brutal game.

Daniel from Manitowoc, WI

The first three minutes of "The Newsroom" put ice in my veins the first time I saw it. Aaron Sorkin does not pull his punches. My dad actually met Sorkin when they were both in college. They were at some national political science competition (think mock trial, except more like mock senate), and they both represented Vermont. As for my question, recent history indicates that when the Pack stocks up in youth at one position, they're anticipating losing a veteran (or veterans) at said position. We stocked up heavily at WR this year and Trevor Davis is becoming too good to keep on the bench. Are we going to see one of our top three receivers departing in some way in the next year or two?

That's always a possibility, and I think the Packers' approach is about guarding against, and preparing for, the possibility at multiple positions, because it's the nature of the game. But I make no assumptions heading into a new season. With Sorkin, I'll always wish Sports Night had lasted more than two seasons. A shame it was so short-lived.

Jeff from Asheville, NC

We all know that the best HBO show and possibly greatest TV show of all time has to be "The Wire." The actors were superb and the storyline over the five seasons has so much depth. Mike, have you seen it and if not, why? Omar comin'.

I just found out my wife has an online subscription to something that gives me access to "The Wire," so it's next on my list. Can't wait. I've heard about it, but I'll still thank you (and Del from Sterling, IL) for the recommendation.

Tony from River Falls, WI

Spoff, I know you're an avid baseball fan. What do you like about baseball that is different from football? For me, it's the cheaper game tickets and the opportunity to easily chat with friends during a baseball game without missing much.

Theoretically, this is somewhat like football and it's one-on-ones, but as a player, I always loved baseball's moments of isolation – batter vs. pitcher, fielder vs. ball, base-stealer vs. pitcher/catcher, etc. – within a profoundly team game.

A.C. from Jasper, MO

What year did the great tradition of players riding kids' bikes to and from training camp practice begin?

**Cliff looked into this**a few years ago, and came up with 1969 as the first evidence of it.

Tony from Burbank, CA

Mike, what was the most difficult or challenging course you ever took in J-school?

Covering the Wisconsin delegation on Capitol Hill for my politics quarter. It's a real challenge to learn how Washington works in three months, and I didn't, really, but it was a rewarding effort.

Tom from Bismarck, ND

In yesterday's column, you correctly wished Aaron Kampman could have been a better fit for Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. It was a shame. It also begs the question, "Where are the results fans were promised by switching to a 3-4?" I think any reasonable assessment of our defense over these same years would be disappointing. Remember too, we were told the kind of athlete fitting a 3-4 scheme would improve our special teams. Well, I don't know which has been worse over the past 10 years. Thank goodness for our offense. Do you dare comment?

So glad to see some fans' sense of entitlement doesn't wane in the offseason. I'd suggest not feeling promised anything in this league. Dare? I've said plenty that the Packers' defense hasn't been good enough, especially in the postseason. But I've also investigated each circumstance in this space, too, which I hope means more than any blanket statement. As for special teams, I don't believe the Packers' return and coverage units are a major strength, but I wouldn't classify them as a consistent liability, either. Scheme is fun to learn about, but I don't take it much further.

Jeremy from DeSoto, KS

Spoff, you mentioned playing devil's advocate with a former co-worker. Ever do that with Vic?

All the time. I loved to get him worked up, and he loved getting worked up. Imagine that.

Mark from Denver, CO

I'm glad Aaron is our quarterback; however, I've always wondered who it might have been if the Packers weren't so lucky in the draft. Any thoughts?

Well, to play the alternate universe game, if Thompson hadn't drafted Favre's successor in 2005, it's possible he would have used his high first-round pick in 2006 on a quarterback. The Packers were at No. 5, and of course took A.J. Hawk. The next two QBs taken in the first round were Matt Leinart and (drumroll please) … Jay Cutler. How's that for a strange possible twist of history?

Dan from Phoenix, AZ

Insiders, did you see the article on CBS Sports that suggested Favre was almost traded to the Cowboys towards the end of his career? After all those playoff losses in the early '90s, the thought of seeing No. 4 wearing a star on his helmet may have been even more sickening than seeing him as a Viking.

I have no doubt.

Dan from Herriman, UT

So Mike, how did your son like Utah? Beautiful place to go to school.

We're under two months now until he moves out to Logan to get started. Hard to believe, but couldn't be more excited for him.

Mike from Beloit, WI

Mike, a little love for Beloit? I loved your article on Damarious Randall moving to the "star" position. Do you think that Randall could be similar to Terrell Buckley? In that, they were miscast as a perimeter corner. Buckley had a nice career playing in the slot.

The slot may be Randall's best spot, but I'm not going to dismiss him as a boundary corner. When healthy, he showed as a rookie he could play it, and I expect he'll be asked to play on the outside some this year again. Sorry, I have no love for Beloit. I'll never forget pulling into that town with my college baseball team for a spring Sunday doubleheader, going past one of those time/temp bank screens, and seeing it was 37 degrees. Let's play two? Ya kiddin' me? Not that it was warmer anywhere else in the state that day, but it's always left a bad memory of Beloit.

Chris from Madison, WI

Hello, Mike. Metallica has now played U.S. Bank Stadium, Solider Field, and Ford Field. Can you talk to someone?

From Kenny Chesney to Billy Joel to … Metallica? You may need a transition act in there. Lambeau is still relatively new to this concert thing.

Steve from Portsmouth, UK

Which jar on the shelf needs to be opened this season?

Hopefully none, because the Packers' best seasons have been when the offensive line has stayed intact over the long haul. That said, to have a young swing tackle like Spriggs ready and waiting if needed is a good spot to be in.

Steve from Dixon, IL

Insiders, regarding trick plays, the Packers had a very successful hook-and-ladder in the Lynn Dickey era with Gerry Ellis at the end of the lateral. I don't recall if he scored, but it went for big yards. It may have been end of the half vs. the Falcons.

I remember that, too. Did some digging and think I found the reference – 1984, at Tampa Bay, Dickey to Lofton to Ellis for a TD to tie the game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Packers lost in overtime or that play would almost certainly be better remembered.

Lee from Marshfield, WI

If you were a coach, what would your message or theme to the GB team be for this upcoming year?

Embrace the big stage, sharpen the small details.

George from Hutchinson, MN

I've been shackled against this dungeon wall for over 47 years now while texting you questions using only my feet. My captors said I can receive my freedom once Spofford posts one of my questions. So here goes. Once Wes returns to work soon, will you continue to pilfer through his metal Teletubbies lunch box that he's been using since the third grade?

The holiday weekend is almost here.

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