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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy, great column and I really appreciate your insight! With all the talk about how hard the back to back trips to the West Coast are going to be on the players, why didn't Packers management arrange to keep the team out there for the week and practice? Or is this mainly media hype and it really doesn't bother the players? I'm sure you ran into this type of situation when you were playing. Thanks! - Bill (Wheaton, IL)

Bill, I can see why you'd think staying on the West Coast would be the solution, but who wants to sleep in a hotel bed for a week and a half? The flying and traveling part can be taxing, but players would much rather be able to go home to their own beds during the week and make the long flights.

Players are just like anybody else: they like to be around their friends and family. They like to be comfortable and in their home environment. And they probably even have some Christmas shopping to do.

If the Packers stayed in California, I think they would have burned out by the Oakland game.

Also, you have to remember that by going back to Green Bay the Packers get to prepare on their own practice fields, work out in their own weight room and meet in their own meeting rooms, etc.

Just like they did going into Tampa Bay and into San Diego, the Packers will leave a day earlier than normal this week: flying out Saturday night for the Monday night game against Oakland rather than Sunday.

That's enough to spread out the travel and let guys adjust. The bigger problem will be coming off the Raiders game, taking that long flight home in the middle of the night and then getting refreshed to play the Denver Broncos after a short week.

That will be rough. But that's the schedule the Packers have to play.

When the team watches film after the game, do they watch the same game we did on FOX with the commentary we heard? - Eric (Dodgeville, WI)

The game film the Packers watch is completely different than what you see on TV.

It's filmed by the Packers' video crew and there's no commentary or anything like that.

Film sessions in the NFL are very precise. Often times players will be looking at wide angle shots that allow them to see the whole field.

Or, defensive linemen, for example, can watch a tape that focuses just on them for the entire play, so Jethro Franklin can evaluate how his players are doing.

On TV they just follow the football for the most part.

I am impressed with the win by the Pack. They dug down deep and got it done, on a "Favre-elous" performance by No. 4. My question is this: Is Bubba Franks ever going to get out of the doghouse? He has gone from knowing how to catch in the end zone to not even getting an opportunity or balls thrown his way. I was a big Mark Chmura fan and was excited when Bubba donned the green and gold, but I feel he's been forgotten. Why, LeRoy? -- Jay (North Battleford, Sk, Canada)

I agree that the Packers need to look to Bubba Franks a little more than they have, but he's hardly in the doghouse.

For whatever reason the Packers have just been able to get it into the end zone different ways this season, whether with Ahman Green and the running game or sometimes on long passes.

But considering that only the Kansas City Chiefs (76.1 percent) have a better conversion percentage in the red zone, it's hard to complain about how the Packers play inside the 20-yard line (66.7 percent).

Like I've said all season, the Packers have only one ball to spread around to quite a few playmakers. Don't worry about who scores, just worry that the Packers score.

The Packer fans are so fortunate to have had probably the greatest quarterback in history playing for them in Brett Favre. Do you believe that some of the younger fans who have not experienced the down times do not appreciate what they have? Sure enjoy your program and insight to the team and games you bring to us. - Gib (Columbia, TN)

First of all, let me say that I think quarterbacks get too much credit when their team wins and too much of the blame when their team loses.

But anyone who wants to criticize Brett Favre needs to remember one thing: since he came to the Packers in 1992, the team has been in the playoffs almost every year, has gone to two Super Bowls and has finished no worse than 8-8.

Meanwhile teams like the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have gone through massive rebuilding periods and even teams like the St. Louis Rams have gone up and down.

With parity like it is in the NFL today, you may never see a true dynasty anymore, but I think NFL fans are still figuring that out.

For most fans in most cities, parity means the season is now more exciting because more teams stay in the playoff race longer. But after so many winning seasons many Packers fans are spoiled.

For them parity is frustrating because they enter each season thinking the Packers should run the table.

LeRoy, would you please explain just what the scout team is and what they do? Thank you. - Patty (Virginia)

The scout team is made up of players on the roster who in the week leading up to a game do their best to mimic the opposing team.

They set up in the opposition's formations and run some of their plays so that the Packers' starting units go into the game knowing what to expect.

The more you know, the better chance you have at success, so the scout team is vital.

Hey, LeRoy! The Packers make countless practice squad moves throughout the season with players that rarely see action on Sundays. Are these signings more to mimic upcoming opponents' tendencies and to help the team prepare or are the signings an official tryout for these players to show the coaching staff what they can offer the team? For example, if the Packers were to play the Falcons, would the Packers bring in an elusive quarterback-type to help the defense prepare against Michael Vick? - Jason (Baraboo, WI)

If the Packers had someone who could do what Michael Vick does, he'd be on the 53-man roster, not the practice squad. But I know what you're getting at.

Although many of the practice squad players do mimic NFL stars on the scout team, the main benefit of the practice squad is that it allows the Packers to give players what are essentially extended tryouts.

It also allows them to cultivate some depth in case of injury.

For example, Erwin Swiney has been up and down on the practice squad this season, but when Antuan Edwards went on injured reserve, the Packers instantly had a player they could promote to help fill a spot on the roster.

Swiney has been on the practice field and in meetings, so he knew what to expect and the Packers knew what to expect from him.

Is this finally the year that William Henderson gets the credit he deserves and a trip to the Pro Bowl? - Ryan (Hastings, MN)

I really hope so. The truth of the matter is that William Henderson has been one of the best all-around fullbacks in the game the past few seasons, but Mike Alstott has generated a lot of the votes because he's a running back in a fullback position.

Henderson isn't used as a runner in the Packers offense, but he's an outstanding blocker and makes plays in the passing game.

I know I voted for him. I hope you did, too!

Hello, LeRoy. I have always regarded you as a big-time football player. This season has seen some non-football activity on the field. I speak of the Joe Horn phone call after his touchdown Sunday night. Seems some of these guys should be a bit more humble. Playing pass defense is an all-or-nothing play and what Horn did Sunday night belittled the guy in coverage. Is the game changing from its roots of playing good solid fundamental football (taking care of business each play) to seeing how much of a fool one could look like after a good play? I'd like to know what your view is. - Jeff (Hickory, NC)

Well, the NFL is an emotional game and it's hard to criticize guys for celebrating, especially when some fans question their desire if they don't play with 'fire.'

Some people don't like any celebrations. Some people only like it when it's their team celebrating.

But some celebrations seem to go over the top regardless.

From the Sharpie incident with Terrell Owens to the phone incident with Joe Horn over the weekend, there have been some memorable celebrations in recent years.

In my opinion some of those are over the top because they show up the other players and they call a lot of attention away from the team and on the individual.

The Lambeau Leap is a celebration, but that's a celebration with the fans and I don't think it shows up the other team.

I'm glad that the Packers are now known for leaping into the stands and not pulling phones out of the pads in the end zone. But in fairness to Horn, this is an entertainment industry, and a lot more people know who he is today than before the weekend.

But what you think of him is up to you.

*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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