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Letters To LeRoy Butler


Do professional players get motivated by press predictions? Such as most of the experts are picking the Vikings to win the North Division. Will Packer players use this as motivation? - Steve (West Allis, WI)

I think some of the players on the team take it personally when some people don't recognize how good this team really is. They look at it as motivation, but as long as the guys in the locker room know who the best team is, that's what matters, but the players definitely take it personally.

Hi LeRoy! Miss you on the field. What was it about Sterling Sharpe that made him so effective as a big play guy? Thanks - Patrick (La Crosse, WI)

You couldn't jam Sterling off the line. If a corner would try to play him bump-and-run, he would throw him down like a rag doll. He was one of the strongest receivers that has ever played the game, bar none. Also, he was smart and he had great hands.

Do you wish the Packers played more teams in the AFC, less teams in the AFC or do you feel the schedule currently has a good balance, and why? - Sara (Sussex, WI)

I think it has a good balance, but I don't think it would be a bad thing to play only NFC teams, and then see the two champions meet in the Super Bowl.

Personally, I liked playing against NFC teams more because they have always been more physical. They bring more of a run-pass mix. The AFC has always seemed to be more of a new wave conference, even going back to the days of the old AFL. AFC teams have always been more finesse, and try to fool you.

It is a good mix, though, with the way the schedule is now. You get to go outside of your conference for four games a year, and the way that the league has set things up now, every team is guaranteed to play every other team at least once every four years.

LeRoy, thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I know Kevin Barry has the nickname "Bacon". But what are some of the other packer player nicknames? (at least those you can tell us) I'm hoping to see the Pack playing in Jacksonville Feb 6th. - Russ (Madison, WI)

You've got "The Sharper Shake" for Darren Sharper; Hannibal Navies is "Bull"; for Donald Driver, you've got "Quickie"; I've always called Brett Favre "Junior"; Ahman Green is "Batman", but I hear Ahmad Carroll likes to be called that too, so who knows what's going to happen there.

Hi LeRoy, on the touchdown catch by Muhsin Muhammad do you think Ahmad Carroll and Al Harris had a communication problem or was it a rookie mistake? - Wally (Benton, PA)

It was a communication problem. That's something that can come up and get a veteran, too - not just a rookie. That is a hard play to cover because you've got two guys, one guy hiding behind the other one, and when the first guy breaks to the post, it's difficult.

You've got to be communicating that you're going to switch off. If you don't communicate that, the opponents are going to make a big play, like you saw Monday night.

The Rams ran the same type of play on the Packers a few years back in the playoffs, on what we call a "wheel" route. That can be corrected, though.

I think it was kind of good for Ahmad to see that kind of route in a situation that didn't really hurt the team too much. He'll pick it up next time.

What do you think Brett's chance is to break the TD record of 420? He is only 2 great seasons, or 3 average seasons away. - John (Green Bay, WI)

He averages about 30-32 TD passes per year, and he's going to play at least a couple more years, so he's definitely going to get the record.

That's his thing - Brett Favre loves throwing touchdowns. He's one of the most prolific passers to ever play the game. He would rather finish a game with 100 yards and five touchdowns than have 400 yards and only one touchdown.

He likes throwing touchdowns, that's what he gets his joy from. So, I'm assuming he's going to break Dan Marino's record.

LeRoy, I noticed that Scott McBrien is a left handed QB. Do you think a lefty could be successful with a team that has had a high caliber right handed QB like Brett Favre for so many years? - David (Hopkinton, IA)

Absolutely, you'd just have to tailor some of your plays to run to the left rather than to the right. Some of the guys on the team now, like Ahman Green and Bubba Franks are left-handed, but we run plays to their right. It doesn't really matter.

The biggest adjustment would be for the receivers, because the spin on the ball is different from a left-hander than they are used to seeing from a righty. You really have to look the ball into your hands.

Can a very good team overcome mediocre coaching, or, can very good coaching overcome a mediocre team? - Mark (West Bend, WI)

I think that both of these things are possible.

A very good coaching staff can take mediocre talent and win. That's happened a few times lately in the NFL, I'm not going to mention any teams by name, but that has definitely happened.

Great players can also carry a guy who is a stiff as a coach and still win.

As long as you have one or the other, you can win. You've got to have one or the other. You can't have inexperienced players and inexperienced coaches and expect to win. But if you have great leaders, and great players, that team is going to win, regardless of who is coaching them.

If you have a great coach and average talent, they can put guys in the positions they need to be in to win games. I'm a firm believer in that. I had some great coaches in my day. We didn't also have that great of a team, but those guys really got the most out of us.

LeRoy, seems like the Packers really adjusted their coaching staff in the off-season. Bob Slowik's impact is obvious, how are other coaches like Vince Tobin, contributing & changing things in the program? - John (Irvine, CA)

What Vince Tobin brings to the coaching staff is more balance. He's a guy who's been around the game forever and has seen just about everything there is to see. He's there to help out with game management, like whether or not you should go for it on fourth down.

You also have guys like Larry Beightol, who is very good at what he does. You have guys like him and Jethro Franklin who have really helped with guys along the offensive and defensive lines, and have really gotten them to play.

Then you've also got Lionel Washington who is coaching two rookies and helping them get ready to play each week. He's got them making strides and helping them along.

I think all of the coaches are making a big impact and it shows every time the team steps out on the field.

*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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