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Inbox: No one can ever take that away

Plus three important defensive statistics


Marc from Astoria, NY

If you were us, submitting questions, where would you want to see yours placed in the column? First, because your opening answers always are good for chuckle? Middle, so all readers are invested at that point? Or the end, because this is where the whimsical and off-topic ones usually go?

You're going to get fussy now?

Brian from Bemidji, MN

Parcel post? How about postage due?

Ha, yeah. Even better.

Peter from Two Dot, MT

Spoff, what is your pregame ritual during the season?

It has varied depending on my duties, but it's primarily work-related. Some years it was taking over Vic's pregame chat while he went to do radio. Others it was posting a pregame warmup blog or answering questions on my Twitter account. A couple of years ago, I drove with my son to all the home games when he was working as a "Wi-Fi coach" in the stadium. We'll see what this year brings. For home games, shortly before kickoff, I always try to hop down to the upper concourse and catch up with any family in attendance. That's my deep breath before an intense work day.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

What are the two or three statistics, beyond points allowed, that best describe the performance of a defense? I want to measure the Packers' success at the bye week and those six games should tell us which direction the arrow is pointing.

Opponent passer rating, third down, red zone.

PapaSeebs from Windsor, CO

As a loyal Packer fan for over 50 years, I really enjoy reading your stories about great Packer players. I remember when Donny Anderson came to the team as one of the "Gold Dust Twins." He was truly an athlete playing three positions for the Packers, while revolutionizing the punting game in the NFL. Is it true that opponents averaged less than a yard from Anderson's punts?

I've had the pleasure of meeting Anderson, but I never knew about the punting stats until I looked them up. In 1967, opponents returned only 13 of his 65 punts for an average of 1.7 yards. In '68, 19 of 59 for 3.5. In '69, 18 of 58 for 3.4. The numbers went up in '70 and '71, but that's an impressive three-year stretch of neutralizing opponents' punt returns.

Tyler from Dixon, CA

Here we go, unsung hero of the XXXI team, whether it be during the SB or during the season/playoff run. Someone might say the late-season pickup of Andre Rison, but I'm going with Bruce Wilkerson. The guy locked it down at LT, and we all know how important line play is to a championship.

For the playoff run, Wilkerson stabilized the only question that team had on either side of the ball.

Fritz from York, ME

Is Luke from Dorchester serious? Many Patriot fans thought that those red uniforms were a curse, because the red coats were the enemy during the revolt against England!

Fritz, meet Benjamin.

Benjamin from Chicago, IL

Spoff, what would be your suggestion for an NFL expansion/relocation city and team name? I've been thinking for years that it would be great to have the London Red Coats. I think there would be a great natural rivalry with Patriots vs. Red Coats on both sides of the pond.

The Ireland Guinness would work for me, too. Not that I want to visit there or anything.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Can I clarify my comment after Erwin from Dallas, TX? 64 in a month and yes, I've seen Favre play since he caught his own first pass. My comment was based on, 1) he was the third-string QB in Atlanta and Glanville was never going to let him play, and 2) he was a loose cannon who threw more picks than TDs. If Holmgren and staff hadn't been able to somehow rein him in, he would have been riding the bench. Most other coaches wouldn't have bothered. Thanks.

I think we're roughly on the same page, Mark, but I think we all know that several teams would have taken a shot on his arm and talent if given the chance.

Mark from Minneapolis, MN

Hello Spoff! On the flight back from a road game, do the players kick back with a few beers? Thanks for the great work.

That used to be the case back in the day, but alcohol is now prohibited on team flights by NFL rule.

Barry from Skokie, IL

Hi, Mike. When fans wonder who will be the next Packer to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I always think it should be Bob Harlan. Not only was he the architect of the Packers' on-field resurgence, but also his leadership in turning Lambeau Field into a huge cash cow has kept the franchise economically viable. Think it might happen?

I would love to see it, but with the contributor category still in its relative infancy, GMs and owners are going to be getting primary consideration for a while first, and the Packers already got one in as a contributor in Wolf. If it's going to happen, it'll take some time. But there's certainly an interesting case to be made, given the Packers' unique market and structure.

Connor from Detroit, MI

Jeff from MN, Detroit isn't a bad place to live. If you were here you could have witnessed the first Hail Mary of 2015. Leaving Ford Field the "Go Pack Go" chant was the loudest I had ever heard. Outside of Lambeau, what's the loudest you've heard Packer fans?

San Diego, 2011.

Brian from Schertz, TX

Do you have a favorite referee or officiating crew?

As a kid, I always got a kick out of Ben Dreith because he looked and sounded so angry every time he called a penalty, like he was mad at the player for breaking the rules. In the current age, I share Vic's affinity for Gene Steratore, and I'm going to miss him.

Tucker from Temple, TX

In regards to the closest current QB to a "gunslinger," I feel like it has to be Philip Rivers. He has the turnovers and the mean streak to fit the profile too.

Interesting choice. Chris from Appleton said Matthew Stafford. I've heard that before and see it maybe a little.

Dylan from Holmen, WI

If they start the season with the AFC-NFC games it'd be interesting to end the season with all the divisional games. Fighting for the division late in the season, all teams with the pressure of playing their best football which would carry into the playoffs.

I think ideally you'd have two division games per month from October to December, keeping the requirement that Week 17 be a division game. Some folks are suggesting a schedule where all division games are locked into certain weeks throughout the season, but the league would never do that. It doesn't want all the rivalry games competing for ratings with one another. It's not practical in the big picture.

Will from Weymouth, MA

If you could have lunch with not just any three Packers players, but what about any NFL player/coach living or dead?

A guaranteed off-the-record, unfiltered conversation? I might pick Bill Belichick.

Mark from Litchfield, NH

Regarding Howard Cosell, I was his bodyguard during the 1981 miniseries between the Brewers and the Yankees at County Stadium. When he arrived at the stadium and I got him out of his limo, the very first thing he begin to say out loud to everyone present was, "The Pack is back, the Pack is back." Coming off of 5-10-1 record in 1980, I did not think that was the brightest thing for him to be saying. All I remember thinking to myself is, "I'm going to have to fight our way out of here."

Something tells me Howard wouldn't have minded. Turns out he wasn't far off. The Packers went 6-2 in the second half of '81 and then made the playoffs in '82.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

If you had to relive the same day over and over again, which day from your past would you hope is your Groundhog Day?

Not forcing myself to choose between my wedding day and the births of my two kids, I'll take Oct. 16, 1982, the day after my 10th birthday. From the upper deck in Madison, I watched the Badgers beat Michigan State, and with the game in hand in the second half everyone with a radio headset was giving the play-by-play of the Brewers' seventh-inning comeback from a 5-1 deficit to beat the Cardinals in Game 4 for a 7-5 win that tied up the World Series at two games apiece.

Jon from Columbia, MO

Besides the excitement, the feeling I remember most from SB45 was feeling bad for Driver and Woodson finishing the game on the sidelines. I have always wondered, how do they feel about that game?

I'm sure it's tough, but they know they're a Super Bowl champion and no one can ever take that away. It was almost as though it had to be that way, though. Not for those two in particular, but that whole season was about overcoming injuries, all the way down through the title game. I remember writing that as the theme for my game story in the wee hours that night.

Rob from Spring Lake, NJ

I am enjoying the 100 Moments (almost as much as the Insider Inbox), and a recent one stated regarding the initial stock sale: "The stock sale included a box-seat ticket to all home games for anyone purchasing five shares." So my question is, are there still people (I would assume heirs) who purchased shares back then who still get "a box-seat ticket" sort of as a dividend?

No, it doesn't work that way. But I wonder how many turned that box-seat perk into season tickets that are still in their family. That would be fascinating to find out, but I have no idea how.

Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA

Who's a training-camp sleeper you feel has a real good shot of making the team that we should keep our eyes on?

This is just spiffballing, having not seen any of the undrafted rookies in pads yet, and he's at one of the deepest position on the team, but Northwestern's Tyler Lancaster **intrigues me**.

Lane from Kihei, HI

Speaking of Earl Campbell, I saw him play for Texas vs. Notre Dame's Joe Montana, of course not realizing at the time how great they would become in the NFL. Are there any NFL HOFers or greats you watched play live in college?

He didn't become an all-time great, but I remember watching the 1998 Wisconsin-Penn State game from the Camp Randall sidelines and being blown away by how much better LaVar Arrington was than anyone else on the Nittany Lions. The Badgers won easily to secure their Rose Bowl bid, and as the fourth quarter wound down, the PA announcer kept repeating warnings to the fans about not rushing the field (due to the incident from the Michigan game five years earlier). I was a tad nervous given my location, so when the clock hit zero, I immediately sprinted to the big W in the middle of the field. Figured it was the safest place to be. Amidst the postgame chaos, I found myself face-to-face at midfield with, yup, Arrington.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

DeMarco Murray retiring. Sure liked the way he sustained his runs, real fearless competitor. Thoughts?

He could have been an all-time hero in Dallas if not for Julius Peppers. That Cowboys team was good enough to beat the Seahawks, too.

Jason from Johnston, IA

Speaking of players who just looked right wearing a certain uniform, how about Lyle Alzado wearing the black and silver of the Raiders? Any other players that really stand out to you?

That's a good call. Butkus with the Bears, Emmitt with the Cowboys, LT with the Giants also come to mind.

Brian from Sussex, WI

I like the articles on individual players. They give a nice combination of personal info and football talent. The hard part is knowing not all those players will make the team after the article has me rooting for them.

Nature of the beast.

Jeff from Greenwood, MN

Mike, loved your selection of Nick Collins. Fifty-two years following this team. I was sitting five rows from the last row in the end zone in Jerry's house watching him weave his way into the end zone. One of my most memorable moments as a Packer fan.

I wasn't far from you in the Jerry's World press box in that same end zone, sitting next to Ted Thompson, whom I heard mumble, "That's our ball," as soon as Roethlisberger's pass started floating Collins' direction. I even quietly exchanged a fist bump when No. 36 dove across the goal line. One of my most memorable as well.

Sean from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

All this talk of aliases and cities makes me wonder if you think I am lying about my city? Living in Cambodia, football is not as easy to follow, kick off is 12 a.m., 4, and 7, and chips and salsa cost an exorbitant amount of money. I work, unpaid as a researcher with kids who live on the street here, and I'm amazed at how sports bring such joy. One boy after describing abuse and asked for his one want in life, he said, "a jersey and a ball." Hope and escape are the two best things offered by sports.

A great reminder for us all.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

As far as non-questions about questions go, I have never had the first or last question, much less two in one day. However, I did once snag the lede with my question. Does that entitle me to say I have that going for me, which is nice?

Sure, and Grand Rapids even came up in this week's discussion, much to your chagrin I gather. So, well, you said it.

Moosh from Long Island, NY

Like the tree riddle, where it falls in the forest and we argue if it makes a sound. If I ask a question and it doesn't get posted, did I really ask a question?

And that's a wrap on another week. Enjoy the weekend, everyone.


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