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Inbox: It helps to have an ace in the hole

How do you define a diehard? 


James from Rio Rancho, NM

Forever reader, qualified diehard, inspired dirt watcher. Bravo. Never has a column inspired me to comment or brought my belly into laugh mode as did the ending yesterday. Wonderful selections/response. Still chuckling.

Spoff was on his A-game. That's easily the front-runner for best wrap to a column in 2018. Good morning!

Patrick from Ashland, WI

Are you a diehard? Maybe if you've had to answer this question from Viking fans in high school for four straight years: "Why have the Packers been rebuilding for 10 straight years?" Yeah, we are out there and the pain is memorable. And from a Viking fan nonetheless? Then, answers came in the '90s…after graduation, alas. But I went to UMD, so I have that going for me.

*How do you define a diehard? Every person has his or her own perspective on that question, but how you classify yourself is what matters most. While I tend to agree with Spoff's definition, I have no problem whatsoever with a fan calling himself or herself a diehard fan so long as they stand by that team through thick and thin, and understand this game is bigger than one win or loss. *

Joe from Hartford, CT

Talking heads have consistently knocked the right side of the offensive line. My feelings are that Kyle Murphy looked good in the preseason last year and Jason Spriggs was coming on before the injury. With Byron Bell and Bryan Bulaga, the tackle position looks deep. If Justin McCray continues to improve, what am I missing?

I'm with you. I don't get it. Injuries hit the offensive line hard last year, but I felt James Campen's crew weathered it as well as you could expect given every starter besides Corey Linsley battled injuries. We don't know the timeline on Bulaga, but the Packers obviously felt comfortable enough with his prognosis to proceed as they did this offseason. We'll see where all the chips fall, but McCray is still available in case of emergency. It helps to have an ace in the hole.

Jimbo from Sawbridgeworth, UK

I attended an event organized by NFL UK, with six players involved in a Q&A. One of the questions answered by the Titans' Jurrell Casey was the toughest one-on-one he's ever faced. Without hesitation he said the Packers' tackles, "They were straight up nasty!"

When David Bakhtiari and Bulaga are healthy and on the field together, I can think of no better tandem of tackles in the NFL.

Joe from East Moline, IL

I have a theory for why Wes was required to produce ID even though he drinks root beer. He asked to buy cigarettes so he could smoke one either to demonstrate his toughness to a potential mate he spotted, or to intimidate a man sitting in a seat he wanted. If you had to draft a GB rookie WR, who would you draft? Or should I ask again in late August?

Definitely the latter. I need all the help I can get when it comes to fabricating intimidation. I see why the Packers drafted all three receivers, but I really liked the selection of J'Mon Moore in the fourth round. Green Bay has had a long history of success drafting productive college receivers and integrating them into its system. Moore had some issues with drops at Mizzou, but he checks all the boxes when it comes to size and athleticism. His production hints at the potential.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Many roster predictions talk about players taking a second-year leap such as Vince Biegel. If a player was injured and not able to even practice, does that affect the second-year leap? Is the leap physical or is it mostly mental in being able to learn the playbook and react to live action?

The biggest jumps and improvements happen on the field. You can study until you're blue in the face, but the game isn't played in the classroom. It's those reps in practice that help tie all the concepts together. That's why this is such an important training camp for Biegel and Montravius Adams. They're starting from the gates this season.

Pancho from New Castle, PA

Is the new kickoff going to resemble the free kick after a safety? I wonder if there has been any injury research on that play.

I don't see it as a dramatic change. I think it's going to look like traditional kickoffs. Just tapered down a few notches.

Braden from Aurora, CO

I commend Le'Veon Bell on his choice to attempt to get paid what he believes he's worth. He's putting a lot of faith in being able to stay healthy and perform this year as he has in the past. My question is are agents licensed and have a fiduciary obligation to their player clients? If so, you'd have to imagine Bell's agent should have been strongly opposed to his decision.

As a close agent-friend of mine once told me when I asked this same exact question, it's the agent's job to get the most options and best possible deal for his client, but ultimately the decision belongs to the client. I give credit to Bell for painting himself as a playmaker, not a running back. The Jaguars caught a lot of grief for classifying Denard Robinson as an "offensive weapon," but they might have been onto something back then.

Packers receiver guides kids through football drills at Notre Dame Academy

Thomas from Grand Rapids, MI

For the Rodgers-to-Rodgers Motor City Miracle I was in my last year of college and sitting at the local bar. The game did not start out hot for us, and being in enemy territory I was getting downright abused by my counterparts. That being said the drinks were flowing and I ended up needing to make an early exit. Not until I woke up the next morning did I realize what I had missed. Have you ever missed an iconic moment during a game in any sport you had been watching but stopped watching early?

I left early from the Adam Pearce and Dino Bambino steel cage match at the Watering Hole in 2000 and still regret it to this day. To be fair, it was getting late and I was 12. I know Adam is a big Packers fan and wanted to throw that one out there. I don't usually leave early from sporting events. I want to get my money's worth.

Kenny from Eau Claire, WI

Thinking of coming over to see my first team practice, does it usually fill up? If so, how early does someone have to be there to get a seat?

You don't need to get to Nitschke Field too early if you're just looking for a seat. The only time I'd suggest coming more than an hour before practice is if you have a child trying to get a bike rider.

Jim from Lake Alfred, FL

Didn't Brett Favre play against Tom Brady twice the year he got traded to the Jets? I qualify as a diehard, 60 years a fan. Great column, keep up the good work.

That was the season the AFC East lost a Brady and gained a Gunslinger.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The worst part (by far) of playing high school football in the '70s was the two-a-day practices. A thing of the past, but I recall them clearly. What aspects of training camp in the modern NFL do players look to with a level of dread?

I can't think of any drills or exercises that could be categorized as "dread-inducing" in camp these days. The rookies have some long days at work and nights spent in dorms and hotels, but I never hear anyone complain. The only thing that comes close to "dread" is probably Thursday Night Football.

Mike from Niceville, FL

I know one of you two already answered a question similar to mine last year but please give me hope. I am at right around 3,000 on the waiting list. Been on it since 1981. Is there any room in the stadium for another expansion?

This is probably a better question for "Murphy Takes 5." My hunch would be no without reshaping the bowl, which I can't see the Packers ever doing.

Mitchell from Middlebury, IN

What moment in Packers history has given you chills? Mine is in the stands on Dec. 28, 2014, and it wasn't from the snowy weather. Rodgers gets stepped on and is laying down. As he's carted off, a cloud of hopelessness passes over the stadium. We need him to claim the NFC North. After halftime, still no Rodgers. Until I see him, standing in the tunnel, waiting for the right time. He emerges and so do our hopes. The crowd chants "MVP, MVP, MVP!" Couldn't ask for a better first trip to Lambeau.

That's the loudest I've ever heard Lambeau Field during my time on the beat because everyone knew what Rodgers was dealing with going in. It seemed like he'd already dodged one bullet in Tampa Bay only to have to swerve past a second. Rodgers was dominant in 2011, but I'll forever remember that 2014 campaign for how consistently cerebral he was from beginning to end regardless of the circumstances.

Brandon from Richmond, VA

What more does Rodgers have to do to get a statue outside Lambeau?

He's done a lot already. Rodgers someday will have a road named after him and probably a statue somewhere based on his current resume, but another Super Bowl title would put him in pretty elite company.

Gregory from Bay View, WI

I grew up in the '80s watching the Packers with my brother. We white-knuckled every game and prayed Chris Jacke would kick that last-second field goal to win. We're diehards no doubt, but make no mistake fans under 30, you've been through a lot, too. Last season, when Rodgers went down, or when Jordy got hurt the year before, and some gut-wrenching NFC losses, there's room for everyone. You're earned it, too. Packers fans are tempered!

This made me laugh because of how terribly a lot of fans reacted to Rodgers going down, Nelson getting hurt in the 2015 preseason and those NFC playoff losses. More power to you if you bit down on your mouthpiece and gritted through those moments of adversity. That's a diehard in my book, but I also seem to recall a lot of blowhards.

Dave from Arlington Heights, IL

Which player has a hobby that the fan base wouldn't expect?

I wasn't aware of Lance Kendricks' penchant for art until he designed his own cleats during the "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Grew up during the Lombardi years memorizing the roster every year (players and numbers), survived the '70s and '80s and now late in life have a young son with NFL aspirations. If he got drafted by the Patriots and played the Packers in the Super Bowl, I would wear his jersey on the outside and a Packer T underneath. I would root for him to dominate and for the Packers to win. How do you shut off 60 years of passion?

This is why I can relate to Bill Simmons saying you're permitted to change allegiances for a blood relative. I'd shut off anything for my son or my godchildren.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, which NFL franchises are the targeted teams to beat this season?

Other than the Packers, I'd say the Patriots and Steelers out of the AFC (shocking, I know), and Saints and Vikings in the NFC. I like the cut of the Texans' jib, but I want to see Deshaun Watson on the field first before I plant both feet on that bandwagon.

Jason from Johnston, IA

In my opinion, the greatest NFL nickname is currently playing. "Snacks" Harrison is just fun to say.

Yeah, that's an instant classic and also reminds me of another favorite – Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

You mentioned Haylee yesterday. Who else are in your neighboring cubicles at the office, what do they do, and how often do you collaborate with them?

Spoff and I naturally are cubicle neighbors. I'm also adjoined to the desks of Matt Arvin (who produces "Packers Unscripted" among his other duties) and Matt Haberkamp (who is our do-it-all website guru). Our digital/video/social department is around 12 people when the interns are here. They all have to put up with me.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

Is there a story that goes with your remark about James Starks probably still having you blocked on Twitter? I've been wondering ever since you mentioned it.

There isn't much jelly in this donut. Starks blocked me sometime around 2013. I assume it was a reaction to the injury issues and questions. It's not like we had issues in the locker room or anything.

Luke from Eagle, CO

I'd add a quarterback to the list of having beaten all 32 teams because I disagree that you have to be on a different team to beat it. Example: Jay Cutler. "Same old Jay."

This question – or commentary – sent me down an endless rabbit hole. Has any NFL quarterback lost to all 32 NFL teams? Favre never lost to the Texans, while Manning went undefeated against five teams, including a perfect 7-0 record against the Browns. Any QB ever run the table in reverse?

Stan from Merrill, WI

Please help me! My older brother is smarter, better looking, didn't need glasses, or braces, is better at all athletic endeavors, and now he threatens to have more questions answered in II. Can you help me best him at just one thing?


Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Think Wes and Radar O'Reilly would be good bar buddies drinking root beer and grape Nehi? I would worry who would be the one driving home after a night on the town.

We'd have to call Uber to ensure we get home safely after those insulin spikes.

James from Chicago, IL

Many fans seem to be missing the quickest way to get season tickets. Marry someone who already has them. That course of action cut 50-60 years off my wait. However, my wife said if I divorce her when my name finally reaches the top of the list (if all goes well, I'll only be about 85 when that happens) she'll know our marriage was a ruse.

Now that's a diehard.