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Here are my criteria for picking the best franchise


Michael from Omaha, NE

I think a person can appreciate stats and the fact that winning is the ultimate goal. I've heard some pretty crazy stats from TV announcers. Does it ever bother you when TV announcers quote borderline absurd stats like: The team is 3-0 in November at Chicago when the temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees and the wind is from the southwest?

A press box PA guy got a little tongue-tied once and announced after one of the teams had scored a touchdown that it was the first time that team had scored since the last time it scored. It drew raucous laughter. How's that for a stat?

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

The Boston Bruins had outscored the Vancouver Canucks 19-8 in the Stanley Cup finals. There should've been no way a game seven was being played, yet, it was.

In the 1960 World Series, the Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27, outhit them 91-60 and got two complete-game shutouts from Whitey Ford, but it was the Pirates' Bill Mazeroski who got it done at crunch time in the bottom of the ninth inning. Just win, baby.

Craig from Tinker AFB, OK

First of all, I absolutely love your take-it-or-leave-it attitude in regards to thoughts about your opinions. Secondly, after reading this article, the thought of Favre playing under Lombardi interested me. With Lombardi's disciplined mentality, how do you think Favre would have handled everything?

I don't think the personalities would've been an issue. Style of play would've been the issue. The gunslinger thing would not have worked with Lombardi. Those were the days of run the ball, convert third down and dominate time of possession. Lombardi steadfastly believed in those tenets of offensive football and I don't believe he would've changed his ways to suit a different style of quarterback. You know what I think? I think Brett Favre would've played it Lombardi's way.

Terrence from Austin, TX

"You play cover three when you wanna stop the run." I did not know that; thank you. That will probably improve my Madden game.

You really know how to hurt a guy.

Sean from Glendale Heights, IL

I'm getting sick of reading comments/questions from fans regarding their opinions of your opinions. Can you please stop throwing wood on the fire and giving these so-called fans repeated explanations to back up your opinions? I don't care how much people love stats or Barry Sanders. So what if you think Emmitt Smith is/was better than Sanders. That being said, can you please answer a relevant question I have? How much of an impact will the potential loss of Cullen Jenkins have on our defensive line?

Sean, I would love to be able to answer your question, but I can't because I don't know what the answer is; I'm not clairvoyant. If, in fact, Jenkins is not to return to the Packers, then they will have lost a good player. What I can tell you and what I have written on several occasions is that this is a not a game of maintenance, it is a game of replacement. You have to be willing to let players leave; you have to challenge young players to step up and fill the void. That's the game in the salary cap era and indications are that we're going back into the cap era. I have no doubt the Packers have a plan. I mean, don't we have a recent point of reference as an answer to your question? What did the Packers do then? It's a young man's game, Sean.

Mitch from Milwaukee, WI

I am using stats to form an opinion. I understand that Starr played in 12- and 14-game seasons. Let's take the total amount of games Starr won and divide it by the number of games he played, and let's do the same for Brett Favre. That will give us a winning percentage and will tell us which quarterback won a greater percentage of their games. I would do it myself but I am having difficulty finding stats on Starr. Maybe this will prove your point on Starr, as Favre has played in more games.

If somebody wants to do this, please be my guest.

Joe from Charlotte, NC

You mentioned that courage is the most important intangible. Lombardi put it best when he said: "But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second."

I have been obsessed with the man since I was a teenager. It's a generational thing, I'm sure. His words bore into my soul. To this day they make me pause.

William from Jacksonville, FL

Fred from Santa Cruz said: "Your infatuation with postseason performance and dismissal of regular-season stats mars an otherwise insightful and entertaining column. Your perspective is an injustice to great players who played on crappy teams (Archie Manning, anyone?) and overstates the merit of those who were lucky enough to be on great ones." How is that switch from a bad team to a good team working for LeBron James at crunch time? Why is it so difficult to understand that clutch performers, regardless of the sport, deserve a large extra measure of respect?

I poisoned you. Good.

James from Rosemount, MN

Do you think the lockout will affect the Packers more than other teams due to a lack of teammates practicing with each other enough to form the type of chemistry that's needed for winning teams? NFL Network commentators the other day said that this might hurt them. What do you think?

I think they're wrong. Mike McCarthy will make sure they're ready to go when the season gets here.

Brandon from Belle Plaine, IA

I have been reading everyone who has agreed and disagreed about this stat war. Here is my insight about stats. Super Bowl XLV final stat line: first downs—Pitt 19 GB 15; third-down efficiency—Pitt 7-13, GB 6-13; total yards—Pitt 387, GB 338; penalties—Pitt 6, GB 7; time of possession—Pitt 33:25, GB 26:35; turnovers—Pitt 3, GB 0. Seems to me the team that can hold onto the ball and take advantage of the opposing team's mistakes wins the game.

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. It looks like you found an important stat, Brandon.

Jack from Oceanside, CA

I enjoy reading your comments, but I would like to point out that when Bart was playing and winning those championships, he played in an era when rushing was the name of the game, along with great defense. Brett had to throw the ball two or three times as much as Bart, so, more chances to throw some bad balls; that calculates into more chances for interceptions. Make sense? Bart had a better playoff record but who got the Packers there more often?

You're right, it was a run-the-ball, stop-the-run game and quarterbacks didn't throw nearly as many passes as they do today, but I think you've forgotten a few other ingredients in the game of the 1960s. Cornerbacks played "bump-and-run" coverage, as pass-defenders were allowed to maintain contact with receivers until the ball was in the air. There were no "defenseless receivers," defensive linemen used a legal tactic known as the "head slap," and blows to the quarterback's head were not only permitted, they were encouraged. Timing routes? No such thing. There were no three-step drops and get the ball out quickly. It was a game of seven-step and nine-step drops. Offensive linemen weren't allowed to use their hands to block; they blocked with their forearms and holding penalties cost 15 yards, not 10. Oh, one more thing: Quarterbacks called their own plays, as Bart Starr did; even on the most important play in the history of the franchise. By the way, for much of Starr's career, only two teams made it into the postseason, not 12.

Aaron from Pound, VA

Do you think the Packers deserve the No. 1 franchise in all of sports title?

I cover the NFL, so I'll stick to my specialty. In my opinion, the Packers are the No. 1 franchise in the NFL. Winning the Super Bowl certainly gives a team the inside track to that title, but you have to have more going for you than just a Super Bowl title to be worthy of the best-in-the-league distinction. My criteria for ranking franchises would include the franchise's tradition and esteem, the fervor of its fan base, the quality of its facilities, the stability of its front office and operations, and its brand. In all of those categories, the Packers are either at or near the top. They are the current champions and they have a tradition and esteem second to none. The fan base is worldwide, rabid, loyal and supportive. The team's facilities are highlighted by Lambeau Field, which is a football shrine. The front office operates in time-honored, measured and calculated ways. It features a GM from the Ron Wolf tree that is the envy of the league, and a head coach that is a perfect fit for this franchise. The Packers brand, of course, is legendary. Relative to those criteria, the Packers will never stray too far from the top of the league rankings. There are a few other teams about which you can say the same. They are the Packers' competition for best-in-the-league honors and where those teams stand each year will likely be determined by what they do on the field.

For the story detailing the Packers' current No. 1 ranking, click here.

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