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Inbox: It's a Hall of Fame career that deserves its capstone

It’s going to take a collective effort to improve on special teams

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LeRoy Butler

Henry from Brown Deer, WI

The only question I have isn't about the Super Bowl. It's when do we find out if LeRoy Butler finally made it into the Hall of Fame?

I'm not going to sit here and act like I'm unbiased as it relates to Butler's Hall of Fame candidacy. I'm extremely biased. Because watching him play the game of football was special. My childhood was special because of him. He made defense fun to watch for an 8-year-old. My grandfather spoke fondly of all the Packers in the 1960s. Through less fruitful years, my dad used to talk about Lynn Dickey, James Lofton, Paul Coffman and the high-potent offenses of the '80s. Someday, I'm going to talk to my son about Butler. Favre came from Atlanta. White was a Hall of Fame-caliber player in Philadelphia. LeRoy Butler was homegrown, drafted and developed. He started and finished his career with the Packers. If inducted, Butler would be the first modern-era Hall of Fame player to do that since Willie Wood was enshrined in 1989. Nobody wore the green-and-gold with more pride than Butler, both during and after his NFL career. As I've said countless times, those who watched Butler every Sunday understand what he meant to this football team and city. As a kid, he was my hero. As a community, he was our hero. Because LeRoy Butler did it the right way. It's a Hall of Fame career that deserves its capstone. Hopefully, it's Thursday night.

Pat from Kennesaw, GA

Why are so many people certain Aaron Rodgers will win MVP just because he had more All-Pro votes than Tom Brady? Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor were unanimous selections. I still feel with how this year went with Rodgers turning off so many people he won't get it. I won't be surprised if he doesn't get it.

I would be. Rodgers is a quarterback and it's become a QB award. A running back hasn't won AP MVP in 10 years and a receiver has never won it. Law of averages. If Rodgers wins MVP, I am curious who gets NFL Offensive Player of the Year. That's become the de facto award for skill-position players. You can't go wrong with either Kupp or Taylor.

Steven from Birchington, UK

If the Packers could hit a home run in the draft on any position, which would you choose and why?

I'd say receiver or tight end. That player doesn't need to come in and be Justin Jefferson or Kyle Pitts right off the bat, but I think adding a young playmaker into the mix would be a worthwhile investment into the offense's future.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

Is coaching on Matt LaFleur's staff a good post? Hmm! The team has a good winning tradition. Coaches are hired, with promotions, by other teams. Positions that are vacated by promotions to other teams are usually filled from within by promoting younger coaches. Green Bay is a great place to live. Hmmm.

For being a first-time head coach, LaFleur has done a masterful job of developing his assistants and quality control coaches. As I've been saying, that trend will continue as more prosper. Heck, it might have even contributed to the Packers reportedly landing their special teams coordinator. More on that at some point in hopefully the not-so-distant future.

Brian from Chesapeake, VA

Since I have subscribed to players, not plays, I am having a tough time with Maurice Drayton's departure. Coach D has a proven track record, similar to this year's offensive and defensive coaching staff, who we have been gushing about. If we bring in a new coach with a change in organizational emphasis, I personally believe Coach LaFleur's last two ST coaches had been set up to fail but either would improve ST performance, if allowed to enjoy to enjoy the fruits of a renewed organizational emphasis, am I wrong?

The Packers' issues on special teams do not fall on a single player or coach. Drayton seems like a solid man who worked hard to get the most out of Green Bay's special teams. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. I think everyone stands in agreement it was time to go in a new direction and personnel decisions will factor into that, as well. It's going to take a collective effort to improve on special teams.

Bill from Valparaiso, IN

Many readers might not remember this, but one of the perks of sitting Aaron Rodgers for three years was they were able to extend him in 2008 for six years and only $63 million. This bought the team years of flexibility that just doesn't happen in today's quarterback-dominated league. We see how quickly Super Bowl-winning teams fall off once giving QBs breaking contracts. With that in mind, could the FO be trying to walk a similar path with Love?

I think that scenario would play out differently in 2022 than it did in 2008. We're now living in the age of journeyman QBs netting $15 million per year for looking competent in spot duty. That being said, I don't believe what you outlined mirrored the Packers' intentions in 2020. Jordan Love was the best prospect on the board near the end of the round and Brian Gutekunst sent the card in. That's it.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Although "super teams" are more prevalent in the NBA than the NFL, we are undoubtedly in the social media era and many players have deeper rooted connections and friendships with other players in the league. How much scheming goes on amongst players on Pro Bowl and Super Bowl weekends when many of them are in the same city or area? Does ML have an advantage being the NFC Pro Bowl coach to show off his coaching style (albeit minimally) to prospective players?

I don't think any "scheming" was going on. Like I said last week, most coaches already have some connection to the league's best players. You see them talking before and after every regular-season game. Plus, I don't think a few days of preparation for an exhibition game is going to draw players into your program. What you do the first six months of the NFL season does that.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

I tried to watch the Pro Bowl. I really did. I can't wait until real football returns on Super Bowl Sunday!

Really? I thought it was the best Pro Bowl yet. But seriously, I held strong and watched a good portion of it. I kind of enjoyed watching LaFleur tailor some of the "game plan" to Kyle Juszczyk. Fullbacks are players, too. By the way, kudos to whomever with the NFL was responsible for updating the total snaps in the gamebook. You're doing God's work.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

My son-in-law is a Patriots fan (but still a great husband and dad), but my daughter and my grandson and granddaughter are all Packers shareholders. I may have promised my son-in-law his first Lambeau Field game when New England is in town next season. If you are an NFL schedule-maker, what type of game do you schedule for Patriots-Packers next year? Noon game, primetime game? Fall game, winter game? Thanks.

I'd put it in November sweeps. It could be a primetime game but the league had no issues this past year slating Packers-Chiefs in the late-afternoon slot, either. Mac Jones is a Pro Bowler, though. Assuming Rodgers returns, Jones might be enough to give the game a bump.

Derek from Norton, KS

Good morning! What do you think is the key for each team to win the Super Bowl?

I think the Super Bowl comes down to how much pressure that Rams defensive front gets against Joe Burrow. The path to victory for LA is to get Burrow under duress. If that happens, I think the Rams roll. But Cincy is crafty and skilled. If the Bengals' defense forces some turnovers of Matthew Stafford, things could get interesting.

Jason from Austin, TX

Insiders, the league is a copycat league. If the Rams win the Super Bowl, teams will copy the splash free-agent acquisitions and trades. If the Bengals win, what will teams copy? Will teams start drafting the top WR that played with the QB in college? Philly did it too with some success.

Cincy isn't exactly a blueprint every team can follow but it should be the prototype for teams perennially drafting in the top 5-10. The Bengals hit on their quarterback, multiple receivers and made some smart decisions in free agency. They've proven how quickly a rebuilding team can turn things around if they make the right moves.

Lee from Sullivan, IN

With all the talk of the salary cap, what happens if a team is over it? Is there a fine, like the luxury tax in MLB? Does the team not get to play? I assume there has to be some punishment.

The CBA says teams can be fined, lose draft picks, and even have players' contracts voided if they don't get under the cap. It's not good, Lee.

Greg from Myrtle Beach, SC

Why not convert the Pro Bowl to flag football? It would be more entertaining don't ya think?

I'm with you but my guess is the NFL wouldn't like the optics.

Curtis from Brookfield , WI

Hi Mike and Wes, I know AR12 has been selected to the Pro Bowl a few times, but I cannot think of any he's played in. Did he play in any? Thanks for all your work you put in.

Rodgers has been selected to the Pro Bowl a franchise-record 10 times but only has played in one (after the 2009 season).

Jon from Brooklyn Park, MN

How do we correct the Pro Bowl and make it more enjoyable for all while keeping players safe?

Stop playing it?

Juan from Miami, FL

Hello gentlemen, I watched about five minutes of the Pro Bowl. I would suggest no shoulder pads and put some flags on. I believe a flag football game would be more competitive and fun. Oh, one more thing, how can I apply for the ST position coach, I am a free agent, you know.

I'd have all the Pro Bowlers run the 40 against Micah Parsons. That was the most entertaining part of the week.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

If a player is selected to the Pro Bowl, has Pro Bowl-related contract incentives, and then doesn't play due to "injury," does he still get paid? If his replacement is also "injured," and the next is also "injured," and the fourth option plays, do all four get their bonuses? If they do, why don't the players all collude to be "injured," so everyone in the league gets Pro Bowl bonuses?

Yes, if the player is voted to the Pro Bowl during original balloting. As far as replacements, most NFL contracts are structured so that only players selected to the Pro Bowl upon initial balloting earn the bonus. If a replacement can't play due to injury, they aren't considered a Pro Bowler. For example, Jordy Nelson's broken ribs in 2016 are the only reason he isn't considered a two-time Pro Bowler.

Eddie from Onalaska, WI

Sorry, Mike Spofford, but Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ, is correct. The Packers (13-3) and Bills (13-3) did alternate the 29th and 30th picks last year. The Packers will be alternating picks 27-28 with Tampa Bay this year, as they were both 13-4. The team with the lowest strength of schedule (Tampa Bay) picks first in Round 1.

Some of you might have noticed but Spoff went back and corrected his response to Chuck's question from Monday. I'm going to let Spoff's response carry the day because quite frankly all that stuff is above my IQ level.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

Wes, did you cover Deedra Irwin in your time in prep sports?

Ha. Thanks for the submission, Tyler. I actually did. I covered Deedra all four years during her time as a distance runner at Pulaski High School, which is about 20 minutes northwest of Green Bay. She was a wonderful young lady, a talented athlete and a great quote, too. It brought a smile to my face reading the Press-Gazette story on her finishing seventh in the biathlon in Beijing.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Wes, cool that you like curling – a very cerebral sport. However, I had you pegged as a more ski jumping sort of guy, a daredevil, pushing the envelope, living on the edge, to boldly go where no Weston has gone before!

I have no clue where you got that idea.

Michael from Burnsville, MN

Do you get to cover the Super Bowl on-site?

As Matisyahu once sang, "One Day." Hey, before I go, I wanted to give a shout out to one of our Inbox readers, Ed from Minneapolis, who sent me a nice gift with a message that made me tear up a little. I don't want to go into the specifics of it right now, but I just wanted to let Ed know how much it meant to me. There have been several of you who sent Spoff and me small, heartfelt mementos over the years. While I'm not always the best at responding in a timely fashion, please know it's greatly appreciated. Ed, it's folks like you who make all the time Spoff and I put into this website worth it. Have a great week, folks.

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