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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy, I was wondering why the Packers wore their home jerseys while playing Washington? I've been watching the packers for many years and either I have been oblivious to them doing this periodically or this was something new. Can you enlighten me? Thank you - Paul (Marina, CA)

In the NFL, and I think in college too, the home team chooses which jersey they will wear, and then the visiting team wears the opposite. The Redskins are one of the few teams in the NFL that choose to wear their white jerseys at home. If you've watched many Washington games over the years, you probably haven't seen them wearing red too often, except for when they play in Dallas, as the Cowboys are another team that traditionally wears white jerseys at home.

If you remember the Packers' opener this year, the Carolina Panthers were wearing white in their Monday night game, which saw the Packers donning their green jerseys on the road there too.

I've also seen times when teams will choose to wear white at home early in the season and it's hot outside. I think the idea there is that since the dark colors attract more sun, their players will be able to stay cooler. One instance of this was in 2003 when the Packers wore their green uniforms in the 102° Arizona heat last September against the Cardinals.

LeRoy, I read with interest your weekly column, and your analyses are always spot-on. Perhaps you are the defensive coordinator of the future for The Pack. My question: Isn't the blitz most effective when it is unpredictable? Has the recent Packer defensive scheme become more successful by reducing the amount (predictability) of blitzes? Cheers - Chris (Port Washington, WI)

Blitzes are most effective when used with the element of surprise. I like the level that the Packers are blitzing now, but I think they need to think about maybe blitzing when the offense is facing a long-yardage situation.

The one thing that was frustrating to me is when teams have had long third and fourth downs and the quarterbacks have time to find someone to throw to deep down the field. I think the defense should be aggressive in those downs. That would be an element of surprise because generally, defenses are more conservative on long-yardage downs.

How long must a player be retired before he can be considered for the Hall of Fame? Isn't Reggie about due? - Pat (Wautoma, WI)

The rule is that a player must be retired for five years before he can be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Although Reggie retired from football and ended his career with the Packers after the 1998 season, he did come back and play in 2000 with the Carolina Panthers.

Reggie will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year and I have no doubt that he will be announced as part of the 2006 class at next year's Super Bowl in Detroit after the 2005 season.

Hey LeRoy!! I have not seen much written about the great job that Grey Ruegamer is doing in place of Mike Flanagan at center. In my opinion the loss of Flanagan was part of the reason for the 4 game skid. It took the offense a little time to adjust, and Grey made some mistakes in the first 2 losses and then all of a sudden you see his level of play get better and better each week. With these past 3 wins I have seen him "come into his own" out there on the field. It has to be a "mental let down" to see Flanagan go down; and I feel the offense now has complete confidence in Grey's ability. I think he has really stepped up!! Your thoughts please. - Al (Wichita, KS)

In the West Coast offense, it is imperative that the center makes the right calls and is very athletic. I think Ruegamer has done a pretty good job, but I still would like to see him be a little more athletic like Mike Flanagan.

However, that's not really his game, so the line has a bit of a different personality with Flanagan out of there, as can be expected. Ruegamer is a tough guy - I think he's a little like Frank Winters in that respect - and if he can continue in doing a good job in pass protection and run blocking, the Packers will be able to go a long way.

Hi LeRoy, I am just curious as to the philosophy the coaching staff will have going into the game against the Vikings after the bye week. After the defensive disaster in Indianapolis I am curious on what they may do differently going against another high powered offense. Does the offensive game plan change because of the opponents offense? Will they try to hold the ball to keep it away from the Vikings or will they open up and try to win a shootout? - Joe (Centuria, WI)

Defensively, the Packers always have a game plan in place for the Minnesota Vikings. These teams play twice every year, so everyone in Green Bay knows so much about the Vikings, there probably won't be too much the Vikings do in that game that the Packers coaches haven't seen before, and vice versa.

Not to get into the analysis of the game too much yet, but I think the Packers will give Minnesota a lot of combination coverages and try to confuse Daunte Culpepper, who I think would have to be the MVP of the league halfway through the season. The Giants, who beat the Vikings Sunday, ran some of the similar stuff that the Packers already have in place, so look for the Green Bay defense to play very smart in that game.

Offensively, you go into any game saying that you have to score to win the game. If that game turns into a shootout, I like the Packers' chances. I like the 3 receivers in green compared with the 1 in purple. I like Brett Favre against Daunte Culpepper. I like the Packers' offensive line against theirs. The Vikings offensive line is very big - the Pack's is very athletic. If it does turn into a shootout, I'd go with the home team.

With Brett Favre's record of 198 games played in row being the record for the QB position. How many more games does he have to play to break the all time record? - Steve (Sheboygan, WI)

Actually, Brett's record now stands at 197 consecutive games started (only counting regular season games like the league does for all of its records). He does hold the record for most games started in a row by a quarterback, but still has a ways to go to catch the overall record-holder.

Jim Marshall, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, started an amazing 270 straight games during his career in the '60s and '70s. To break Marshall's record, Brett would have to start every game into the 2009 season, which is a possibility.

The consecutive starts streak is one of many records that Brett is chasing. If you want to follow his run for the record books, take a look at the Favre Watch page on

First of all how are you doing LeRoy. It does my heart good to see the Pack blowing out teams. Do you think that the beating they took from the Titans was just what this team needed to get the fires burning again, or do you think the fire was always there, and things are now coming together and I would like to say the booing of any players in Lambeau should be reserved for the other team. Thanks again. - SGT Mark Lee (Wiesbaden, Germany)

I think the fire was always there, but whenever you're missing a couple of starters on defense, things are not going to run as smoothly as they should. Another thing that hurt the defense in that game and some of the other losses is that the Packers were running a lot of new faces out in their dime package.

I think you'll see the defense continue to come together and improve throughout the season, as you've seen in recent weeks.

As far as the Tennessee game goes, I think the only thing you can really take from that game is that you've got to be ready for Monday Night games, and you've got to be aggressive from the start.

Leroy, In the past I've seen you count Gilbert Brown as your favorite player. Have you kept in contact with big number 93? What's he doing these days? - John (Duluth, MN)

I talked to Gilbert just last week, thanks for asking. He is one of my best friends of all time and I miss him a lot. I think what he brought to our team when we were both in Green Bay is something I will never forget.

Actually, Gilbert's in great shape right now. He's living in Detroit and he's just pretty much hanging out and working out - staying healthy and in shape in case a team calls, he may come back to the NFL, you never know.

If one of the kickers gets injured during a game, are they replaced by teammates? Do coaches try to make sure there is always someone who can kick as well as play his normal position on the roster? - Johan (Sweden)

With the Packers, if Barker or Longwell were to get hurt in a game, the other one would be able to take over the duties at least for the rest of that game.

Ryan Longwell can punt - he could probably average close to 40 yards as a punter if he had to. If Longwell were knocked out, I don't know Barker's range, but he could kick field goals for the rest of that game.

If something really bad was to happen and both of them were to get injured in the same game somehow, I think Robert Ferguson would probably be my choice to take over because he's so athletic. There's always an emergency quarterback, and there's always an emergency kicker.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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