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Letters To LeRoy Butler


I have been a Packer fan since 1966 and I've seen a lot of highs and lows in my time, but Monday night watching Brett Favre play in the state of mind he was in, was the most courageous thing I ever seen in my life. I lost my dad seven years ago and he was my mentor, my best friend, and I know how hard I took it. That shows how strong one man can be. God bless Brett and his family and thank you for showing me how strong one man can be. - Jeff (Milwaukee)

Jeff, I can't help but agree. Monday night's game showed how much Brett Favre loves football and how much Brett's teammates love him. It was awesome! Certainly the love and support of the entire Packers family -- including the fans -- goes out to Brett and his family.

After Brett Favre's magical performance Monday night against the Raiders, I have to ask: In your opinion, what's Favre's greatest performance of his career? - Brad (Topeka, KS)

I think you just saw it. Throwing for 399 yards -- and it could have been more if the Packers didn't go to the running game to control the clock -- in such a painful period of his life is nothing short of amazing. I consider Brett to be a good friend of mine, and it made me feel so good every time he threw a touchdown because I got to see that big smile on his face. But you know he was still aching inside.

Other than that, I can remember some really outstanding performances by Favre against the 49ers, but as good as those performances were, I'm not sure they measured up to what we all just watched Monday.

Hey LeRoy! Do you think the Packers will turn to Brett Favre or Ahman Green in the playoffs and why? - Eric (Glendale)

Favre's performance against the Raiders has to make everyone pretty confident in the passing game, but there's no question that the Packers would love to run the ball more than throw it. Any team would. And when Ahman Green gets going, he can be unstoppable.

Put it this way, if you're running the ball 45 times a game, you're controlling the clock, controlling the momentum and probably kicking butt. If you're passing 45 times a game it means you're probably behind and getting your butt kicked.

I used to think that the Packers needed a go-to receiver, but now it seems like Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker all make big plays. Is there any reason that having three go-to guys is worse than having one? Sometimes does it help to have fewer options? - Jenny (Oxnard, CA)

The only way that having one go-to guy is an advantage is if he's as talented as Terrell Owens and can just take over a game all by himself. The Packers have talented receivers, but Owens is still in a class of his own.

Otherwise, the only reason it would hurt a team to have multiple go-to targets would be if the receivers were selfish and lost their focus when they didn't get the ball. Cleary the Packers receivers are team players and can come up big at any point in the game, even if they haven't seen a pass in the first three quarters.

The current set up makes the Packers really tough to defend. In fact, ask yourself this: If you were an opposing defense, which Packers receiver would you pick to double-team? That's a pretty hard decision to make, and that shows how many weapons the Packers have.

Do you worry at all that after such an emotional game against the Raiders and all the travel the past two weeks that the Packers might come out flat against the Broncos? - Arnold (Green Bay, WI)

That's a very good question, but I don't think that's going to be a problem. There's just too much at stake in this Denver game not to be hyped up.

Now that doesn't mean that the Packers will jump out to 14-point lead in the first 10 minutes, but they'll be ready.

I think the Raiders game wasn't the peak of the Packers emotionally. I think it was a steppingstone.

With the Lambeau Field excited and ready to push their team to the playoffs -- not to mention give Brett Favre a much-deserved ovation -- I think the Packers will be pumped.

The Packers have been doing a much better job forcing turnovers on defense in recent games. I think that's been the key to some of their wins. So why are they forcing turnovers now when they struggled so much at the beginning of the year? Is forcing turnovers an attitude, or are there techniques that actually work for that sort of thing? -- Anne (Sheboygan, WI)

It's a little bit of both. It's an attitude because you have to be flying around the field and playing aggressive to force turnovers, but turnovers come from technique, too.

A lot of fumbles are caused when one player wraps up the ball carrier and his teammate swipes at the ball. A lot of interceptions come when players anticipate and jump in front of the receivers.

To do both of those things you need to have confidence that your teammates are around you to make plays in the event that you make a mistake.

You have to remember that the Packers have a lot of new faces on defense this year, so they're probably just now getting to the point where they feel like one complete unit.

The Packers hit a bunch of bombs against the Raiders. Is the Raiders secondary that bad, or were the Packers doing something special that they'll be able to continue into the playoffs? - Jerome (Madison, WI)

I'm not sure if the Packers designed anything special so much as they played special. Javon Walker's catches in traffic were outstanding. If he doesn't come down with those balls they're at least incompletions and possibly they get batted into the air and intercepted.

The more big plays you make the more confidence you have and the more you can afford to be aggressive.

I think the Packers made the Raiders secondary look worse than it really is. There are definitely some talented guys in that Raiders defensive backfield.

But when you have receivers who are willing to sacrifice their bodies to go up and make plays, you can make any secondary look bad.

What's your best memory as it relates to football and the holidays? - Bob (Wausau, WI)

I remember one year we did one of those 'Secret Santa' things where everyone pulls a name out of a hat and gets a gift for that person.

I drew George Koonce's name and I got him a little travel kit with toothpaste and stuff in it. It also had some mouthwash, but I poured the mouthwash out and replaced it with caster oil.

Eventually we went on the road and Koonce went to use the mouthwash, and instead of gargling he spit it out everywhere. The look on his face was a gift for me.

And with that, happy holidays to the best fans in football!

*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 providing exclusive analysis to with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays and a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays.

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

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