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How about some favorite defensive plays?

Plus some preseason thoughts


John from Spring Green, WI

After the Starr touchdown in the "Ice Bowl," is the Rodgers-to-Rodgers Hail Mary the greatest play in Packers history?


I think I'd have to pick one from a championship game, or a playoff game that led to victory and eventual title, so it has more historical significance. There are a couple of plays each from Super Bowls XXXI and XLV to choose from – Favre to Freeman, Howard's return, Matthews' forced fumble, Rodgers to Jennings on third down. Cliff detailed those a few years ago in a **“High Five” column**. There were other postseason plays in the '60s I'd consider, too.**

Robert from North Little Rock, AR

As a proud African-American Packer Backer, I'd like to know what African-American quarterbacks have thrown touchdowns for the Pack. Has one ever started and won?

Seneca Wallace became the first African-American QB to start a game for the Packers in 2013, but he left with an injury in the first quarter. I could not find statistical confirmation that any African-American QBs have thrown TD passes for the Packers in the regular season, but I would defer to Cliff for a definitive answer.

Charlie from Beverly Hills, CA

I need some help, Spoff. I'm shopping for a new cocktail glass. From the Pro Shop, what is your favorite glass for this year?

Sorry, I'm more of a beer glass guy. In any event, they all look the same to me when they're full.

Richard from Madison, WI

I'm pretty tickled that you guys keep the Insider Inbox going right thru the slow season and build your vacations around it to boot. Thanks!

We aim to please.

Jay from Omaha, NE

Poor Mike! Don't tell me your solo Inbox has you tired already? Vic did this column every day of the week during the regular season, twice on weekdays, and that man is twice your age!

First, thanks, because he's not even close to twice my age, so I'll take that as a compliment and not an insult to Vic. Second, Vic made this column his top (and sometimes second as well) priority, and we're all thankful as a result. But I, unfortunately, don't have that luxury.

Josh from Milwaukee, WI

I'm moving out of state in September. What should I do before I leave?

Get the Brewers an ace.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

If the Packers use a "best player" approach for the draft, does the same principle apply to selecting the final two or three roster spots? Or is there a greater emphasis on position/need?

It's mostly a best-player mindset, though at times it's with a developing player's unknown ceiling in mind, and the personnel department would rather not expose that player to waivers prematurely.

Ben from Chicago, IL

Mike, I would imagine that the Packers can self-finance future stadium renovations without assistance from sales tax money. Is that your best guess? What prevented them from self-financing the renovation? Was it the sheer amount?

Yes. The half-cent sales tax was needed to finance a little more than half of the $295 million renovation, and all of the stadium improvements since then (sound system, video boards, south end zone, etc.) have not required additional sales tax dollars. I remember a conversation I had with Bob Harlan in 2007, shortly before he retired. The renovation was barely five years old, and he told me the same project would have cost between $700 million and $800 million then. Everything worked out as well as the Packers could have hoped for, though many now don't remember how contentious that referendum actually was. Percentage-wise, it passed 53-47. I've heard people since then transpose the numbers and "remember" it as a 57-43 landslide, emphasizing the Packers' overwhelming fan support. That's a nice story, but it's not true.

Geert from Old Windsor, UK

Do you think those of us who have only discovered football and the Packers in the last few years will ever get a chance to become shareholders?

Only if another major renovation, or construction of a new stadium, is required. I believe league regulations have limited the purposes of selling shares to stadium improvements now.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

Who's a player the Packers let go that you wish they would have held onto?

On a personal note, too many to mention. Strictly football-wise, I was always disappointed Aaron Kampman didn't fit better in Capers' 3-4 scheme, or they didn't find a way to fit him better, which they seem to have more flexibility to do now. Health issues at that stage of his career probably cost him much chance of making an impact anyway, but I've always wondered.

Bill from O'Fallon, MO

I've heard that Aaron is a big fan of "The Big Lebowski," and he owns a sweater like the one the Dude wears. Just out of curiosity have you ever seen him wearing it around the facilities?


I saw him wear it once for a press conference after a game, if I recall, or maybe it was on a team flight.**

Joe from Hartford, CT

Hi Mike, in the spirit of opening new topics during this dead period in the season, I would like to know if the handful of plays that the first unit gets in the preseason games really has any effect on the opening-game performance. My observation is that the first two games of the season really are the preseason for the first team. As important as every game is on a 16-game schedule, don't you think that it is worth the risk of injury to be more prepared for these games?

I'm sure we'll discuss this plenty in August, but I just don't believe preseason is all that valuable for established veteran players, because they're running, and facing, such basic schemes. It doesn't help Aaron Rodgers' preparation to come to the line of scrimmage and see Page 1 of the defense's playbook. It depends on the player's level of experience for me, but generally speaking, I don't see the preseason as worth the injury risk.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

Will Hundley's key preseason action mean the offense will be less "vanilla" to get his handling it on film and insure more confidence in him from the staff, or do training camp's 11-on-11 drills give him enough experience? Would you agree this preseason is, indeed, more interesting due to its importance to both he and Callahan?

Preseason snaps are huge for young quarterbacks. By now, Hundley can certainly handle more than a "vanilla" offense, but you still look for the balance between developing young players and putting too much scheme on film.

Jonathan from Paducah, KY

I read an article about Drew Brees wanting to use flag football at the youth level to enhance safety. With the player-safety push at the pro level, I have feared the pro game will essentially resemble what we know as flag football today. The article stuck out to me as a small step in that direction. Do you think player safety at the pro level will eventually lead to a game that resembles flag football?

Not in the foreseeable future. Brees' desire is for young athletes to get involved in a safer game and not be withheld from football because of the risks. If too many top athletes don't play the sport, it will suffer in the long run regardless of the rules.

Bill from Ringle, WI

Spoff, what are your favorite Packer defensive plays? I always liked Reggie throwing a 300-pound-plus Dallas lineman aside like a rag doll and his back-to-back sacks of John Elway to lock up the game.


In games I covered, in addition to the Matthews forced fumble noted earlier, these would rank up there for me: Woodson's pick-six in Kansas City in '07; Tramon's end-zone pick in Philly, Raji's pick-six in Chicago, and Collins' pick-six in the Super Bowl all in the '10 postseason; the goal-line stands at Baltimore in '13 and Miami in '14; Peppers' strip of Murray in the '14 playoffs; and Hyde's pick in last year's playoffs. But no, I'm not going to rank them.**

Chris from Jackson, WI

So, what happened at dinner, Mike? No second date?

The writing was on the wall when she didn't let me pay the whole bill. I can take a hint.

Brian from Sussex, WI

The comments about the league admitting botched calls got me thinking about the communication to the teams (or so reported) from a call that was overturned by replay early in replay's existence. The Packers appeared to go ahead on a touchdown late in the game but the refs called Majkowski for being over the line, but replay overturned the penalty for GB to win. As reported by leaks from each team, the league told GB that the penalty never should have been called and told Chicago that the penalty shouldn't have been overturned.

Maybe that's why the Bears had an asterisk next to the loss in their media guide for nearly two decades after that game.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

No question, but a suggestion and an opinion. Mike and Wes, instead of a combine competition, let's test the real athleticism. I'm thinking borrowing some events from "Battle of the Network Stars," maybe the obstacle course at the very least. That really separated the Kristi McNichols from the Scott Baios. Now the opinion: I don't think the oil derrick would look right without an Earl Campbell in the backfield.

I can pretty much get on board with everything you said there, but this will be the first and last time Chachi is ever mentioned in the Inbox.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

With all this talk about Rodgers and other QBs mastering the hard count, I have yet to see any acknowledgement about what skills the center must possess. What keeps the center from making an early snap?

Discipline and concentration, same as all the other linemen. We've discussed it before. It can't be easy for any of them.

Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Spoff, quick question about your reply to Dan from Libertyville regarding Ty Montgomery's build. Does each player receive (and hopefully adhere to) a nutritional plan that complements overall fitness goals for their position?

Yes, but it's not so much position-specific as a plan to maximize on the body frame and structure each player possesses.

Trev from Omaha, NE

Do you have any regrets when it comes to football or sports? I regret not playing football in high school. I still don't exactly know why I didn't, but I had played baseball my whole life and guess I just stuck with it even with football being my favorite sport. I worked out as I was a part of a JUCO national champion team a few years ago and earned D-2 offers. But still the "what if" of playing football bugs me.

I was 5-9 and about 130 pounds as a senior in high school, and considerably smaller as a freshman, which was the first year of tackle football where I grew up. I regret I wasn't a little bigger, but I don't regret the decision I made, and neither does my mother.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

I think the saddest sight I ever saw in football was watching Johnny Unitas finishing up in San Diego, literally with nothing left in the tank, unable to even throw the ball 20 yards downfield. Too many of the greats hang on too long, even the icons like Marino, Starr, and Jurgensen. Do you think the few like Brown and Sanders who quit at their peak embellished the memories we have of them?

No. They left people wanting more, but that's OK, too. Seeing a great hang on too long doesn't bother me, either, I guess. I see what the competitive juices do to and for these guys, and I get it.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Vic lumped all three rookie running backs together in an answer on Monday. Do you really think it is that neck-and-neck, or do you have a hunch as to which one is the best player?

All we have to go on right now is draft order, which isn't much, really.

Justin from DeKalb, IL

In regards to missing Nick Collins, I feel the Packers have been hit hard when it comes to career-ending neck injuries. With Collins a Pro Bowler, Jermichael Finley a stud TE coming into his own, and Johnathan Franklin a young promising talent, have you seen a string of same-injury career-enders on one team before?

I don't think so, but I'm just glad all three appear to be leading healthy, productive lives.

John from Del Mar, CA

Vic says he prefers today's reporting over the pre-internet era because "once the plane left the ground, reporters were in what I called 'blackout reentry' mode. These days, reporters can send their stories back to the office while in flight." I'm surprised. Why wouldn't a beat reporter cherish the days when there was time to think, work through the story in his/her head, come up with other angles, etc., during the flight, especially when everyone else was in the same boat?

Maybe Vic had done that enough in his career. I miss the "time to think," as you say, but speed is the challenge of the internet-only business on an almost daily basis, even more so on game day.

Rick from San Francisco, CA

I love me my summer but I am bored with no meaningful NFL news. I saw a replay of the Giants' "hidden ball" play in which the first baseman tagged out the baserunner when he stepped off the base. I thought about the "Music City Miracle" lateral pass and how incredible that was. Can you think of one or two designed trick plays that were so unusual that even highly trained NFL teams were caught completely off-guard?

Miami's hook-and-lateral at the end of the first half of the '81 AFC Divisional playoff vs. San Diego is my all-time favorite. One of the greatest plays in one of the greatest games, and it made a huge impression on me as a young football fan. We implemented our own version of the play in intramural flag football in college, and it worked for a touchdown once per game. But only once.

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