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Inbox: This is his moment

Matt LaFleur’s story is one of perseverance and determination


Robert from Glasgow, DE

Wes: Absolutely great profile. Your article on our new coach will be (is) a foundation block in Packer history that fans will read for decades. Great work.

Thank you for those kind words, Robert. That is extremely high praise. I want to take a second to thank all the individuals who helped with the feature. Denny LaFleur, Randy Awrey and Tom Ruis were incredibly gracious with their time, and Duke Bobber put together some amazing graphics to enhance the story. Also, a big thank you to Saginaw Valley State and the Morning Sun for the photos and assistance. Finally, a shout out to my wife, Spoff, Haylee Helmle and a few others who took the time to read/edit the story before it published. It takes a village. Good morning!

Neil from Kalispell, MT

Wes, if you got half the enjoyment out of putting the Matt LaFleur story that I did reading it, you had a great time! Well done. Now, I feel like I know Matt. I'm really going to enjoy these next years of Packer history. Thank you.

The fun thing about profiles is you gain deeper understanding of what drives these individuals. It's the part of the job I enjoy the most and something I wasn't able to do as often as I wanted at my previous stop because of all the beat-writing responsibilities. When I started researching the story I was blown away about how little had been written about his roots in Mt. Pleasant. LaFleur's story is one of perseverance and determination. I'm glad I was able to tell a small part of it.

Lawrence from Milwaukee, WI

Nice piece on the new coach, Wes. Great insight into the seemingly single focus he's had his entire life on getting to this point. Strangely, for all the hard work you put in on what was a very enjoyable and well-written piece, my favorite part was how you spelled out, "the 'John Madden Football' video game." Very professional choice. That's why I read the Green Bay Packers football team's Insider Inbox question-and-answer column. Ya'll are the best.

That's actually what the game was called in its infancy before it was shortened to "Madden" in 1993. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Kristen from Surprise, AZ

Thanks Wes, for the great article on LaFleur's history. So many great stories. What I really loved was the mention of his basketball coach, Steve Majerle. I grew up watching Dan Majerle play for the Phoenix Suns! Just seemed like a small world moment.

There was no natural way to weave this into the story, but Ruis said he and LaFleur went to several games at Rose Arena in 1987-88 to watch "Thunder" Dan during his final season at Central Michigan.

Jim from San Antonio, TX

With the Saginaw Valley State connection, it is only a matter of time before Coach LaFleur sees that Jeff Janis is brought back to Green Bay, right?

Or Ruvell Martin.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Wes? Is that you? I lose track when you guys start switching days. As a fellow scribe, I have to ask a question: What do you enjoy more, doing the interviews/research for a story, the actual writing process or the reaction after the story posts? I tend to enjoy the first two phases the most. Thanks!

Oh, it's me all right. Spoff did me a huge solid tackling Inbox Thursday to buy me a few extra days to focus on finishing the profile. I love the research and interview process, but I think every writer enjoys constructing the story. It's stressful because you want to do the story justice, but also rewarding at the same time.

Philipp from Fayetteville, GA

Hi Insiders! I love seeing all the pictures of Davante at the Pro Bowl. He looks like he is having a great time. I really would like to know, where can I get that blue Packers hat he is wearing? I love the look of it, but cannot find it anywhere.

It's pretty sweet. I wish I had an answer for you. I looked for it on the NFL's Pro Bowl page and couldn't find it. Ryan Hartwig is doing some terrific work for us down in Orlando with Adams. It's cool Adams was cleared to participate in all the festivities. I know he didn't get that single-season catch record, but he deserves the spotlight. This is his moment.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

Insiders, with having the two first-rounders, would the Packers be more inclined to trade one since signing the two would cost more money, or is using the two more valuable regardless of the cost?

Two firsts certainly gives Brian Gutekunst more flexibility depending on how things shake out, but cost won't be a part of the equation. The Packers have plenty of cap space and first-round picks don't break the bank anymore. If the Packers make a move, it's only because it's what's best for the team in the eyes of the GM.

Tony from Dallas, TX

Hey guys, I try to read every II that gets published, so I might have missed this if you answered it already. What have the player reactions been to the hiring of Coach LaFleur? I haven't seen any direct reactions.

The reaction on Twitter has been extremely positive to both Matt LaFleur's hiring and Mike Pettine's return as defensive coordinator. This week at the Pro Bowl, Davante Adams told NBC 26's Kelly Price how excited he is for what LaFleur will bring to the offense.

James from Chicago, IL

Among all the talent on the defensive front, what position do they need more depth on?

Edge rusher. Given the nature of the position, the Packers were fortunate they survived with only four natural outside linebackers for a majority of the season.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

In the playoffs, would it be fair if a team had to get the ball back with the lead to finish an OT game? That would take both the offense and defense to win the game. Or would that much excitement take too long to resolve?

I'm on board with Miguel's idea. The defense gets a stop? There's the ball game. It's exciting, rewards the defense for a job well done and the fairest suggestion I've heard.

Brendon from Payette, ID

I remember being excited at the beginning of the season by the prospect of Marcedes Lewis pancaking defensive ends and slipping off for key short-yardage catches, while the attention was all focused on Graham and Adams. Instead, seems like we barely used him. What happened, and what are the odds he gets a second chance this year?

Lewis came as advertised as a blocker. I was a little surprised he wasn't more of a factor in the passing, though. Lewis, who turns 35 in May, is an unrestricted free agent. We'll find out soon enough whether Gutekunst and LaFleur want to take another look in 2019.

Dale from Green Bay, WI

Very interesting post from Dean today (as always) regarding Nasir. If that's true about his grandfather being Herb's cousin, then that would make them first cousins twice removed. So he's got that going for him, which is nice. Are there any other prospects with Packer DNA in the upcoming draft we should know?

Is that how that works? I've never quite understood the whole one or twice removed thing. I'm not sure of any other prospects with Packers bloodlines. If there are, I'm sure it'll come up in Indianapolis.

Bruce from Bloomington, IL

Can we ever just get rid of the Pro Bowl? It's really not football. What you see on TV is closer to flag football, but away from the ball, players stand around and talk. I was at one in Hawaii a while back and the game was way down the list of events. Lots of NFL luaus, autograph sessions, random encounters with Hall of Famers, photo ops with cheerleaders, and mascots. Everything was fun, except the game. The tailgate party ticket before the game cost twice the game ticket. Enough said.

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, Bruce, but the Pro Bowl isn't going anywhere. The game is what it is, but the NFL has found the perfect home for it during the lead up to the Super Bowl.

Scott from Salem, OR

In one of the photos in the "Packers Pro Bowlers in recent years" photo gallery posted Jan. 25, it looks like Jeff Saturday (Packers, Team NFC) is centering the ball to Peyton Manning (Broncos, Team AFC). I assume it's from the Jan. 27, 2013, Pro Bowl. I didn't watch the game. What's the story?

That was an interesting afternoon. Jeff Saturday, who was selected to the Pro Bowl during the same week in which he was benched in favor of Evan Smith, announced during the game he was going to retire. So they allowed Saturday to switch sides and snap one final time to Peyton Manning.

A look at Green Bay's recent Pro Bowl selections at the annual all-star game.

Donald from Medford, WI

What day does free agency start?

The 2019 league year begins at 3 p.m. CT on March 13, so be sure to set your calendars, folks.

John from Belleview, FL

Always good to root for James White and Melvin Gordon as ex-Badgers running backs. But don't forget Alan Ameche and Elroy Hirsch, both in the Hall of Fame. You young kids have no sense of history!

Ameche and Hirsch were great, great players, but I interpreted the question of "best pro career" more in terms of championships. White has two Super Bowl rings and is on the verge of playing in his fourth Super Bowl in five seasons. We'll see where the next few years take him, but that is one heck of a start to an NFL career.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

I imagine DPI will be called more closely in the SB now.

I don't doubt it. Look at the hits on the quarterback earlier this season. Flags were flying everywhere through September. You didn't hear much about it over the last three months, though, did you?

Matthew from Madison, WI

If the NFL puts an official in the booth, can we attach a yellow flag to the skycam? Then when they want to call a penalty they push a button which releases the flag.

I can think of no better idea than 70,000 screaming fans brought to a hush in anticipation of the skycam potentially dropping a little yellow hanky down to the field.

Brad from Gallatin, TN

Am I the only one who wants to see less camera angles and less reviews?

The toothpaste is already out of the tube. There's no going back now.

Brian from Pleasant Prairie, WI

It's 2020, NFL stadiums have been fitted with laser goal posts (with sound effects). There's a blatant missed call, all 70K fans at the game pull out their phones and open the NFL Stadium Experience App and tap the "missed call" button. A horn sounds, the goal lasers rotate to form an X and a replay of the previous play is initiated; correct call is made. Later, booth review called, fans get to vote on outcome; 70 percent in agreement equals call reversal or stand. Stadiums draw more home fans than ever.

Meanwhile, a hologram of Vince Lombardi forms on the sideline shouting, "What the hell is going on out there?"

Rene from Leuth, Nederland

Guys, one final comment on Tony Romo the announcer. Yes, you said that he has the advantage to have production meetings with the teams to know a little bit about the plays, he still brings that to the booth. I hear Aikman and Witten and all the other announcers also talk about those meetings, but apparently they are not listening well. Tony is exciting to hear, a little bit overenthusiastic at times but hey, come on man.

Fair point. My guess is Romo probably asks great questions, helping build on his already strong knowledge of the game. Don't get me wrong. Romo is my favorite. All I was saying is cool it on the "hire him as a defensive coordinator" talk. Just because a DC sees where the ball is going doesn't mean his players are going to once the offense is in formation.

Michael from LaFrenier, KS

With the addition of Packers Perks, what merch can we expect to become available? A Wes and Spoff signed article perhaps?

Ha. A Wes and Spoff signed item. It would be the one "perk" where you actually get points for it.

Matt from Cumberland, RI

I can't be the only one who thinks the injury to No. 36 on Sept. 18, 2011, cost us a Super Bowl win. I think we get one more if he gets to play out his career.

I know you guys have been discussing amongst yourselves about possible redo's on a draft pick, but I'd use my mulligan on Nick Collins. I'm a firm believer we're always where we're supposed to be at the time we're supposed to be there, but that one was a tough one to stomach. Not only is Collins a great guy, but he also was a Hall of Fame talent. I've said it 10 times before in Inbox, but it's too bad Collins' career had to end after six seasons – for both the Packers and Pick-36.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Nippersmom and Bill the (PBR) Cat are not the only ones who appreciate Evan Siegle's "Through the Lens." As a very amateur photographer I am especially thankful that he includes the ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Thanks for giving us the look inside the mind of a true professional.

Evan does a phenomenal job with that series, though I admit none of those terms you used mean anything to me. I'm only familiar with how to zoom on an iPhone.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares some of his favorite images of the 2018 season.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Once the season is over, does the heat to Lambeau Field turn off and the grounds crew let nature do its thing? How much work is done to the field throughout the winter months?

The fields department looks after Lambeau Field all year long, but the field itself goes through the winter and spring seasons once the season is over just like your own yard.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

That comment about the head coaches in the Octagon for overtime made me chuckle because I couldn't help but remember the Harbaugh/Schwartz handshake debacle that led to Schwartz chasing him.

I chuckled thinking of the Octagon being lowered from the top of Jerry World for future overtimes at AT&T Stadium.

Gordon from La Crosse, WI

What do you Wisenheimers got for Insiders addition of Super Bowl prop bets?

Over/under 50: The combined number of times the age discrepancy between Tom Brady and Jared Goff/Bill Belichick and Sean McVay is mentioned from opening kickoff until the final whistle.


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