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Inbox: Talk about absurd

It was supposed to end an epic triumph

WR Devin Hester
WR Devin Hester

Doug from Union Grove, WI

Bucks in seven?

It's a best-of-three now. That's all that matters. Grab your popcorn. I'd finished yesterday's column before Game 4, so I didn't comment on the block by Giannis. It takes a lot to get me to jump off the couch during a game, but I did there. Wow. Potential series-changing and championship-saving play.

Vince from Flagstaff, AZ

I've been reading the II long enough that I can quickly tell if Spoff or Wes wrote it. There's a snark-scale that ranges from Wes to Vic, with Spoff somewhere in between. Anyway, are there any regular submitters that you recognize by just reading their question and not seeing their name?

Not really. But I read the submission first, and there are plenty of times after reading it when I look at the source and go, "Of course."

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Which new addition to the Packers not named Amari Rodgers will make the most impact on special teams?

Hard to say, but late-round draft picks Isaiah McDuffie, Shemar Jean-Charles and Kylin Hill should all get a chance. Undrafted Christian Uphoff, whom I mentioned yesterday, would be another player to watch.

Tom from Green Lake, WI

Good morning. How important is something like Family Night for the players under the lights with a packed stadium? I would think it would be a huge advantage for the rookies to get a taste of the atmosphere at Lambeau Field. What about the veterans, or say a Jordan Love that missed that experience last year?

I won't oversell it, but it's not nothing. I look at it as another step in the progression for young players that other teams don't have. Typically it goes practice – preseason games – real games. The Packers get that full-house, under-the-lights practice as an intermediate step before the first preseason appearance.

Charles from Richfield, WI

With the reduction of preseason games from four to three, I was surprised to see the Hall of Fame Game slated for Aug. 5. Will this be a fourth preseason game for DAL and PIT as in the past? Owing to the Packers' dismal history in Canton (0-0 storm-shortened game vs SD in 1980, 19-3 loss to LAR in 1993, 9-0 storm-shortened loss to KC in 2003, and the cancelled game in 2016 vs IND due to shoddy field conditions), do you see this farce of a game going the way of the College All-Star Game?

No. The Hall of Fame and the league want the game to continue, as a way to draw fans to Canton for all the induction festivities, and they're now having it begin the weekend rather than conclude it. It will be a fourth preseason game for the Cowboys and Steelers. The Packers' history there is bizarre, but it doesn't apply universally.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

Mike, it seems every position has at least one trackable stat that helps fans compare them to others at their position across the league except for OL. I know coaches rely on the tape, but are there any other stats or metrics (outside of size) that are tracked for OL? Block rate (BR)? Sacks given up (SGU)? Anything? Thanks!

In some advanced metrics I've seen "pass rush win rate" cited. It's only for pass-blocking snaps, obviously, and it doesn't let the lineman off the hook if he gets beat and the QB just gets the ball out quickly enough. But he's also not demerited, to my knowledge, if he does his job but the QB holds the ball for what results in more of a coverage sack.

Tom from Keota, IA

I'm always intrigued to find out who the "students of the game" are, and who are good teachers. What player(s) currently on the roster do you think would have the most interest and talent at a coaching job after playing? Also, what feature of the game that's not currently tracked as a stat will be tracked in another decade?

Among the veteran pros on the roster, I could see Marcedes Lewis, Adrian Amos and Lucas Patrick getting into coaching, based on what I know of their personalities. But I'll be honest, that's tough to peg because there's so much that goes into the desire to coach, especially at this level. It's not for everybody. As for a future stat, I'd say the distance from which any field-goal attempt would be "good," except I've seen one network (can't remember if it's NBC or ESPN) work that into its live graphics already.

Mary from Pewaukee, WI

Are the Packers players and staff going to be required to get COVID vaccine shots?

The players get to make their own decision, with much stricter protocols (essentially the same as last year) ruling their work life if they choose not to get the vaccine. Any coaches or other staff members who work directly with players have to be vaccinated in order to have any in-person contact.

Spenser from Fulda, MN

What is the deal with Packers coaches getting snubbed for coach of the year? I looked back and the last coach to win it was in the late '80s (for a mediocre season). The success that the Packers have had since then should warrant at least one or two more maybe as many as three or four. Any input on this?

This column has gone over the LaFleur slights to the point we're blue in the face, so I won't rehash those. I thought McCarthy deserved it in 2007, going from 8-8 to 13-3 and reviving Favre's career. But the Patriots went 16-0 so Belichick got it. What can you do?

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, over the years has there been a rookie player that really surprised you when you saw them again in training camp with pads on? Maybe you didn't even notice them in OTAs but when training camp opened they got your attention.

Don Barclay. As an undrafted rookie in 2012, Barclay was an unknown to me and there's little that catches your eye with linemen in the spring. When the pads went on, you could tell he belonged. I've probably never been less surprised to see an undrafted rookie survive final cuts. Everyone knew he was making the team.

Dan from Waupun, WI

Thanks for the memories, Mike. I don't think I will ever forget when Mike Eaves hit the puck on the face-off and it went in for a goal. He was on the left side of the goalie. Had a poster of that shot for a long time. Thanks again.

Eaves was a shade before my time as a Badger hockey fan. The one I'll never forget is the triple-OT playoff thriller at North Dakota in '83. With the goalie pulled, Chris Chelios scores with 12 seconds left in regulation to force OT. Ted Pearson scores early in the third OT but has his goal nullified due to an illegal stick, sending him to the penalty box. Paul Houck follows with a short-hander 30 seconds later for the improbable win, and that Badgers team goes on to take the national title. Incredible.

Patrick from Folly Beach, SC

I think that long snapper is an undervalued position. I have watched games when they were often one of the players who raced downfield to make a difference on coverage. But I wonder do they make calls at the line and adjustments like centers do?

No, because he's got his head down looking back between his legs. That duty typically falls to the up man, or personal protector, lined up between the long snapper and punter.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

Pat McAfee has discussed the responsibilities of the holder on his show a few times. Contrary to popular belief, the position of the laces falls primarily on the long snapper. We were all lied to, and Ray Finkle had the wrong guy.

I never knew until I got this job that long snappers work to perfect putting the laces in exactly the right spot when the holder catches the snap.

Mike from Allen, TX

Gentlemen, good morning. I enjoyed Mike's article on Desmond Howard. I didn't know he holds the record for punt return yards in a season. How would you compare Howard to Devin Hester? Also, while Howard returned eight punts for TDs, he never returned a kickoff for a TD in 359 chances, further displaying the differing skill sets for the two types of returners.

Howard may have been 0-for-359 in the regular season, but he was 1-for-4 in the Super Bowl. Hester is the greatest return man of all time in my book. Nineteen touchdowns (14 punts, five kickoffs), plus one in the Super Bowl on a kickoff as well. Talk about absurd. He had 12 of the 20 total TDs in his first two seasons.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Mike, thank you so much for the Charles Woodson article. I remember that rocky start and also how quickly he became one my all-time favorite players. 21's professionalism despite being in a situation he (at first) felt was less than ideal, is an example hopefully others can learn from.

It was great to talk to him again, albeit via Zoom. One of my all-time favorites for a number of reasons.

Kerry from South Range, WI

Is it a rarity that there were articles about two former players who won Heismans and neither was a quarterback or running back? They both are among my favorite Packers of all time.

Didn't realize the Howard and Woodson stories were posted on the same day. Total coincidence, honest.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

What's the worst injury you've seen occur in any pro sport at an All-Star game? I can't imagine coming away in a good mood after.

Ray Fosse's career was never the same after Pete Rose bowled him over at home plate in '70. I saw that highlight as a kid so many times. Patriots running back Robert Edwards rushed for 1,100 yards as a rookie in '98 and then blew out his knee in a flag football game during Pro Bowl week in Hawaii. He missed three seasons and had his last 20 NFL carries for Miami in 2002 before resurfacing in 2005 in the CFL and having a few productive years.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

In this column I have learned the correct use of farther and further, when to use I or me (but what about the lyrics to Kenny Loggins' Danny's song?), how to use the possessive apostrophe, and the Oxford comma. I could use a lesson in who and whom and apparently so could a few other readers. Do you have a grammar trick for that one? Maybe it's time for a "grammar in the void" column. Whom knows? It might work.

I yield the floor.

Al from Pasadena, CA

Mike, I can't diagram a sentence, but here is how my wife helped me with who vs. whom: In "Whom do you block?" the answer is you block him, not he. Him ends with an m, so you use whom. In "Who will be the returner?" the answer is he will be, not him will be. He doesn't end in m, so you use who. Simple, huh?

I couldn't teach Lesson 1 any better myself. Sreedharan from Pewaukee, Douglas from Castle Rock and others are right there with you. Careful with those "to be" verbs, though. That's where it gets really tricky.

Coach T from Savage, MN

Is it Doctor Who or Doctor Whom?

Good one. Moving on.

Jim from Chelsea, WI

What's the most exciting Packer game you've ever watched? Have you ever watched the entire 1983 Monday night game against the Redskins? For me when taken in context that's the most exciting game I've ever watched. We didn't have much to hold on to in the '80s.

I was too young to stay up to the end of the '83 game, but I remember a lot about it. For me, I'd probably say the '09 wild-card game at Arizona. The deep ball to Jennings on the first play of OT made my heart race. It was supposed to end an epic triumph (and serve as a quasi-repeat of the '07 MNF game at Denver) instead of what happened a couple snaps later.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Mike, it has been said by Steven King in his book "On Writing" that "The situation comes first. The characters – always flat and unfeatured, to begin with – come next." Then to, essentially, "let a story write itself." Do you experience this with real-life sporting situations? Or is it the story usually more elusive?

Sports writing is generally an either/or proposition. Either the situation is the focus, or the individual, and if you stay on track, it'll just flow. Occasionally the two merge, and those can turn into some of the best stories, but they're harder to write. They rarely write themselves.

Dan from Green Bay, WI

Hey Spoff, next time a reader accuses you of being a mouthpiece for the organization, might I suggest you point them to, "It took brain injuries and a whopper of a lawsuit." That little gem belongs in the Brutally Honest Answers Hall of Fame. Probably the best answer I've ever read online. Respect level – infinity.

Appreciate you.

Gary from Tompkinsville, KY

To answer Jim's question from VA. Maybe Wes wanted to come to KY to try our famous bourbon. The KY Bourbon Trail is very popular.

I'd bet a season's worth of lunches that wasn't it. Happy Friday.