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Achieving Success Despite Changes


The man who used the phrase -- "don't fear change, embrace it" - easily could have been talking about the NFL career of Packers wide receiver Bill Schroeder.

More than once during his career, Schroeder has been called upon to face adversity and change on and off the playing field. To the delight of Packers fans, Schroeder has answered that call and continues the march to the top of his game.

It is easy for Packers fans to cheer for Bill Schroeder. After all, this is the hometown boy. As a sixth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1994, Schroeder is playing for his childhood dream team.

It would have been just as easy to list off reasons why Schroeder wouldn't be a starter in the NFL. Early in his career he was plagued by injuries, criticized for dropping balls and fumbling punts and faced with a lack of stability among his coaches.

"In the seven years that I've played, I've had six different wide receivers coaches, so it's hard to get used to a new coach every year," remarked Schroeder.

But these days, it seems that Bill Schroeder is adjusting just fine and, in the process, becoming one of the Packers' main offensive threats.

With the sudden retirement of Robert Brooks in 1999, Schroeder was given the opportunity to start alongside wideout Antonio Freeman. By year's end he had become the seventh Packer inteam history to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark and, along with Freeman, became the second 1,000-yard receiving duo in Packers history.

His 74 receptions last season,were a careerhigh and tied for first on the team with Freeman. His 1,051 yards,ranked him second on the club and 14th overall in the conference. He had five touchdowns, caught at least three receptions every game and had a career-best,158 receiving yards in a win over Tampa Bay.

But the accomplishments of the team didn't quite meet expectations and, as a result, overshadowed what Schroeder had accomplished on the field.

"After an 8-8 season, it's embarrassing. I know the guys were real happy with the milestones that were hit, but at the same time it doesn't mean a whole lot when you have an 8-8 season and don't make it to the playoffs," said Schroeder.

A mediocore 1999 performance by the team meant a complete overhaul in the coaching staff. Schroeder would have to endure yet another change in coaches.

To no one's surprise, Schroeder doesn't look like he's having a difficult time adjusting so far this season. He's been a consistent performer on the field throughout training camp and he appears to be fitting in just fine with the coaching staff.

"I think the new coaching staff we have is great," Schroeder said. "Having Mike (Sherman) back is a definite boost for most of the guys who have been here and have had experience with him before. I think the little things he's done on and off the field opened up a lot of people's minds, saying that this is going to be a new team. This isn't Mike Holmgren's team, this is Mike Sherman's team."

As for Ray Sherman -- the Packers' newest wide receivers coach and Schroeder's sixth coach of his pro career -- he feels there is a great opportunity to learn a lot from what Ray has to offer.

"I'm really happy that he (Mike) brought in Ray Sherman because he's teaching me a lot of things," said Schroeder. "Each new coach teaches you something different and, being a coordinator like Ray was, he brings a lot of stuff to the table and his eyes are open about everything."

Schroeder knows that with a new staff on hand also comes a change in attitude for the team. This year's squad has regained some of the fire that seemed to dissipate last season.

"I know the will to win is there just as much as last year, but I think the guys realize that if I don't get the job done, I might get shipped out of here," expressed Schroeder. "Last year, I didn't think there was a real effort to push the guys who weren't trying real hardS

this year there is."

With the recent injury to wideout Corey Bradford, Schroeder knows his role as a veteran member of the receiving corps may be more important than ever to the younger guys who will have to step into the game.

"Some of these young guys have to look up to somebody and I just hope I can be one of those guys, " said Schroeder. "I just want to be the type of guy that people say, 'Look at him, he's working hard and that's the way it should be done.'"

Schroeder knows that there is a starting spot for him on this year's squad, but he isn't about to coast along knowing that the job is already his.

"I worked real hard to try to get myself into the starting role," said Schroeder. "This year it's there for me so I have to keep on working hard and improving on the things that I've already done."

If last season is any indication of what the Packers can expect from Schroeder, the--with a healthy squad -- the offense should be in good hands and the fortunes of the Packers should take a turn from last season. And Schroeder has once again set his sights on helping the Packers return to the glory days.

"I expect to keep on improving every day, to help this team get to where they need to be and to be a leader on this team," expressed Schroeder. "I've been around a long time, been to two Super Bowls and I know what it takes to get there."

Although Schroeder is proud of what he has been able to accomplish on the field, his proudest moment may have come off the field this past June. That is when his wife, Shelly, gave birth to their first child, a baby girl, which they named Mara.

The birth of his daughter has changed the way the Schroeder views the little things that life throws at him.

"I don't worry about a lot of things because I know there are a lot of things going on at home," said Schroeder. "Watching the delivery of Mara,made me realize that little things that go on in the world don't even compare to some of the things that my wife went through."

Yet another change that he has successful embraced.

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