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Inbox: But what a season it was

Should there be two different tiers for retired numbers?

Former Packers QB Lynn Dickey

Dale from St. Cloud, FL

Hi guys, Watt's new?

Not a whole Watt.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

What year would you consider the best season for the Packers back in the 1980s?

It would be foolish to say any team other than "The Cardiac Pack" in 1989. Green Bay won 10 games for the first time in 17 years and had four Pro Bowlers. However, history needs to put a little more respect on the name of the 1983 squad. For all of Bart Starr's ups and downs as head coach, he shepherded one of the league's most prolific passing offenses that year. Unfortunately for the Packers, they just couldn't stop anybody, either. It resulted in an 8-8 season but what a season it was.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Down at the end of that Vainisi article, Cliff gives a strong argument to elect the owners of the Packers to the Pro HOF. After a laugh, I stopped-- it's not a bad idea, and not just because of the Packers' winning record under "our" ownership, but also because the owners really did save the team, and perhaps football, with their pocketbooks back in the day. But there's no way for that to happen, right?

Probably not. But for all limelight directed at the 12th man in Seattle, it's surprising Packers fans/owners don't get more love from the media. Whenever they are profiled in a skit or broadcast vignette, they often stereotype Wisconsinites as rubes with heavy accents.

Johnny from Madison, WI

I remember being a bit worried when Matt LaFleur was announced as our next coach, since he wasn't one of the bigger names we were considering. When did he win you over? For me it was at his introductory press conference when he went through all the head coaches he'd worked with and for each one gave a specific example of what he learned from them. He came across as very sincere and humble, but also very intelligent and driven.

I'm not sure if "winning over" is the right term but I knew Matt LaFleur was the real deal after his first loss as a head coach against the Eagles. You learn a lot about a person when adversity strikes and LaFleur passed that test with flying colors. He was level-headed in how he reacted to the outcome of that game and the locker room responded to his leadership. The Packers made the necessary corrections and won the next four games to start the year 7-1.

Brandon from Vacaville, CA

I know everyone is on the edge of their seats for FA signings, extensions, etc. How much of this waiting game is due to teams waiting for the official cap? If I'm a team, I would feel good about making too many moves until I knew the full picture.

I think it has more to do with no NFL Scouting Combine this week. That fills a lot of TV airtime and column inches. Since there's very little meat left on the bone at this point, fans are forced to pick at the gristle.

Scott from Albertville, MN

Who has the most tackles in Packers history?

A.J. Hawk is the all-time leader with 1,118, though the Packers didn't start tracking tackles until 1975.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Greetings Wes. A thought on retired jerseys. What about two tiers? Tier 1: "Permanent Retired," the best of the best. Tier two: "Reserved Retired" for the best players to be recognized for their achievements but the jersey can still be worn. I personally would appreciate being recognized but would cheer on the young buck working on a name for himself wearing the same number. Maybe getting that jersey hung again for his contributions. This would honor worthwhile players and not use up numbers.

Oh, I like that. Lambeau's No. 1, Hornung's No. 5, and the Inbox's No. 88 would fit well into the "reserved retired" tier.

Mike from Mercer, WI

Hello Wes, thanks for the chuckles I got while reading your answers today – I do enjoy a good laugh. In your opinion, are there any Badgers players who could be drafted by any NFL team? Do think any of them have the talent to become Packers sometime? Just wondering if you know what a cow keeps in its wallet. Moola

Oh Mike, haha…anyway, it could be a light year for Wisconsin as far as draftable players but I want to see where Cole Van Lanen winds up. The Badgers tackle and Bay Port alumnus is the last high-school athlete I covered at the Press-Gazette who has a chance to play in the NFL. He's got big paws, man, and fits the mold of your UW lineman who could open some eyes with his athleticism and toughness.

Check out photos of every Packers touchdown during the 2020 season.

Jeff from Vandenberg AFB, CA

Wes, I saw that Marquez Valdes-Scantling received a playing time salary escalator for next year, but Hunter Bradley and JK Scott did not. Are specialists held to same escalator standards as other players? If so, that doesn't seem fair because they will never play that high a percentage of snaps? If not, what are the standards? Just curious.

That's the downside of being a specialist or backup quarterbacks. The proven performance escalator and performance-based pay distributions are determined by playing time. So no play, no pay.

Chris from Hunt Valley, MD

Hey II. I'm an avid reader but embarrassingly only have one Packers related book (the Brett Favre autobiography from 15ish years ago). Do you have a suggestion for my Packers reading list? Thanks!

I don't want to put any added pressure on Cliff but I personally feel his upcoming book will be the opus of accurate Packers history. I'll be picking it up the day it hits the shelves. Until then, I always recommend with David Maraniss' "When Pride Still Mattered." I love narrative non-fiction and Maraniss hits it out of the park.

James from Chicago, IL

Robert Tonyan's 2020 stats: 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns have fans acting like the second-coming of Gronk is on the roster. Richards Rodgers' 2015 was nearly identical (58/510/8) and aside from one catch, no one in 2015 even noticed.

Except for the part where Tonyan averaged 3.0 more yards per catch than Rodgers did in 2015.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Wes, do you follow any of the mock drafts, and if you do, which ones do you give the most credence to and when do you usually start giving it true attention? I was surprised at how many mock drafts have already come out since the Super Bowl (some even prior to the Super Bowl). There's just so many mock drafts. I wonder if its anything you pay attention to and if there's any ones you utilize to glean any information for the upcoming draft? Thank you.

I keep it simple. I only read Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. It's my contention you hear nothing if you're trying to listen to a thousand voices. Beyond that, I use NFL.com and CBS Sports for prospect rankings. I find their sites to have the cleanest layouts and easiest pages to navigate. I'll start paying more attention over the next month and ramp up as we get closer to the draft.

John from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

There have been a lot of negative comments about Preston Smith's quality of play this past year. In your opinion, could some of this be explained by the way he was employed in Mike Pettine's game-planning, such as having Preston drop into coverage? Could Preston's pass rush and run stopping been more effective had he played a more "standard" look for OLB or defensive end? Keep up the great work guys.

In some regards, I think Preston Smith has gotten a bad rap from the fanbase. He made some key plays down the stretch that helped catapult the Packers to the NFC title game. At the same time, Smith is a premier edge rusher and one of faces of the Packers' defense, so a decrease from 12½ sacks to four is noteworthy. We'll see how the chips fall over the next month or so.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

I am pretty sure that O-line is now the highest need. I sort of understand the highest-graded player on the board when you pick but will the player grade or desperate need take priority?

That's not how the Packers operate (see: 2020) but offensive line still could very easily be the pick in the first round. That's been a popular position over the years in the draft for Green Bay, and David Bakhtiari's injury and Rick Wagner's release leave the Packers with some holes to fill.

Aaron from Scottsdale, AZ

For the crowd chanting "You make millions, shut up and play," the average career length of an NFL player is 2½ years, and the average salary is in the $3 million range. That's $7.5 million in earnings for the average player. From age 20 to say 70, over 50 years, that's about $150,000/year. Not chump change, but not an endless supply of riches. If I'm a player, I maximize every dollar for my family for the rest of our lives, if given the opportunity. They're my No. 1 team.

As expected, my take led to some spewing of vitriol in the submissions. And predictably, some fell into the same trap of using themselves as the example. You cannot compare what you and I do as every-day jobs to NFL players. It's not apples to apples. We're talking about world-class athletes with an elite set of skills. Aaron Jones is one of the very best at what he does. He's gotten to this point because he's been playing football since he could walk. That's 26 years of blood and sweat equity building up to this moment.

Brian from Pensacola, FL

It's funny that all the NFL.com and ESPN mock drafts are no longer yelling for WR in the first round as the primary need.

Same answer. Different year. It's now been 19 years since the Packers drafted a receiver in the first round. I'm sure the streak will end one of these years but I'm not putting my chips on it.

Ryan from Baldwin, WI

Wes, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, it is much appreciated! I'm not in favor one way or another, but does the decision to restructure Rodgers' contract to alleviate the cap this year and pushing money out into the future say anything about his future in Green Bay or how MM and BG view him? On the flip side, if they don't restructure, does it lean towards thinking the Packers org believes Jordan Love is the future?

I wouldn't read much into it. I think the potential holdup is the Packers already restructured Aaron Rodgers' contract once before. While doing so creates more cap space in the present, it inflates his future cap number.

Dan from Toledo, OH

I would like to thank Russell Wilson for taking the "Does this MVP-caliber franchise QB want out?" narrative spotlight off Aaron Rodgers and putting it on Seattle.

I can only imagine how Rodgers would be getting skewered in the media right now if his name was the one attached to these reports. Yeesh.

Dave from East Burke, VT

Does Tom Brady become even more unbeatable with a Bucs year under his belt?

We're heading into uncharted territory in a way. There are quarterbacks who have played into their mid-40s but here's Brady still competing for championships. Father time eventually will catch up with him but he's not nearly as close to TB12 as some forecasted last summer.

Willy from Isny im Allgäu, Germany

Gary from Wildwood, MO asked about the overnight accommodations for the visiting teams. Do the Packers have always the same hotels in the several cities, when they stay overnight? Are you also with the team in the same hotel? What was the best hotel where you have been and why?

It's a little of both. There are cities where the Packers stay at the same hotel every year and other cities (e.g. Detroit) where it seems like I've stayed at a different hotel every time I've been out there. Overall, my favorite one is the Four Seasons Resort in Dallas.

Matt from Delavan, WI

Wes, after a season in a pandemic, do we need an asterisk anywhere in a record book?

No. All 256 regular-season games were played and the postseason was business as usual.

James from Appleton, WI

Just a clarification: the hotel in Appleton is now a Red Lion. I guess Radisson sold it a couple of years ago when they heard 2020 was going to be a pandemic year.

Duly noted.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Wes, if you had become a lawyer what area would you have gravitated to and how would your life be different?

That goes back to my previous answer earlier this week about being a sports agent. I'm glad I A) flunked the LSAT and B) didn't go that route.

Rex from Laramie, WY

I liked your comment about choosing among law, history, and journalism. I was editor of my high school newspaper and really wanted to go into journalism in college, but my math test scores were (slightly) higher than my English scores, so my dad made me major in math. After a few diversions, I ended up a professor. I did OK, but I'm still envious of the job you and Mike have. Thanks for keeping us all informed and entertained.

It's like what Professor Petrovsky told Mikey McDermott in "Rounders," "We can't run from who we are. Our destiny chooses us." I'm a firm believer in fate leading us in the direction we were destined to travel.

Dave from Nome, AK

Wes, nice Robert Frost reference. Was he one of your favorites?

Yeah, just a car length or two behind Poe.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders – after two straight NFC title games the Packers aren't too far from winning it all. We just need all three phases to do their part. Special teams have been an issue but I think a focus on fundamentals will keep them on the Maurice Drayton narrow. I'm Joe Barry excited to see what the defense has in store for us under new leadership. As for the offense? They just need to keep the gas pedal to LaFleur. I know I shouldn't have tried to be clever, but I really thought I Hodkiewicz to make it work.

I appreciate your effort and dedication to the cause.

Kristian from Aarhus, Denmark

In Thursday's II, two things combined to force me to write in. One was the name of the Buccaneers' coach, John McKay, after reading which I thought, 'Huh, funny.' Then, I read that you would have potentially pursued a career as a history professor, after reading which, I thought: 'Well, now I've got to!' John (P.) McKay is the name of the history professor, whose seminal tome on the history of world societies, was the core book when I studied history. Oh! Shouldn't II retire jersey No. 88?

Time is indeed a flat circle.

Jake from Milwaukee, WI

Wes, your answer to Lee from Brisbane was completely lame. He was posting a hypothetical and didn't deserve that. Lame. Bring back Spofford.

Monday, Jake. Monday.