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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy, first of all it's so great to have you back! We have missed you and look forward to reading your weekly columns here. My question is why do you think that this Packers team is struggling so much and not playing up to its potential right now? What do you think can be done to right the ship before it is too late? Thanks - WE LOVE YOU LEROY!! - Jean (East Troy, WI)

Let me start by saying that it's great to be online and back with the Packers and their fans. I'm really looking forward to each week, and I hope you are as excited as I am.

I think one of the things holding the Packers back is a lack of continuity on defense. They have several new players this year -- or returning players in new spots -- and it might take a while to get comfortable.

But the biggest impact already this season has been injuries. Donald Driver missed a game, Robert Ferguson is injured, Marco Rivera is dinged up, the list goes on and on.

For the offense especially, that really throws off the timing. When I think back to our Super Bowl teams in the mid-90s, we didn't have any significant injuries. That's huge!

Hey, LeRoy, good to have you back. My question is: are the Packers good enough to bounce back and make the playoffs? -- Dan Oppe' (London)

I think so. In the NFC North division, it's a two-team race. It's going to come down to Minnesota and Green Bay. Right now the Vikings are off to a good start, but Daunte Culpepper (back) is injured. If he can't play, maybe the Packers can make a little run while the Vikings drop back to them.

Once the Packers capture the lead in their division, they won't let it go.

Another thing to keep in mind is that seven teams started the 2002 season 3-0 and only one of them, the Oakland Raiders, ended up making the playoffs. In 1993 (1-3) and 1994 (1-2) we started off slow, but still made the playoffs, and this Packers team can do the same.

With league parity the way it is these days, the chance of running away with it and going 13-3 like we did in 1996 and 1997 is slim. That the Packers went 12-4 the past two seasons is incredible.

If you're in one of those office pools where you pick the winner each week, you're probably getting killed. Who picks Seattle to be 3-0, or Cleveland to go into San Francisco and get a win?

You can't get too excited about victories and you can't get too down over losses either.

What do you think about the rookie, Nick Barnett? - Joshua (Covina, CA)

Oh, man, he's a blur! He's fast! He's a good tackler and he's very active.

Like any rookie, he needs to disguise more and he needs to read offensive formations a little bit better. But that will come with time.

He's going to be a great one.

In watching Brett Favre this year, I seem to notice a constant lack of confidence in his eyes and his demeanor. Am I imaging this or do you sense it too? - Bob (Wintersville, OH)

I'm not sure what you're seeing that makes you think Brett lacks confidence. Maybe you've seen him double-pump on a few throws this year, but that could be a number of things.

Maybe his receivers are running slightly different routes (even if one guy turns at 17 yards and another guy breaks at 19, that's a big difference). Maybe he's just getting impatient and he's trying to go downfield.

No matter what it is, I can promise you that confidence is not a problem for Brett Favre.

He still has all the zip on his passes and he's just as focused on winning as he's ever been.

Is he frustrated with the Packers' 1-2 start and over not playing as well as he can? Sure. But it's not an issue of confidence.

Now, if you're basing your opinion on his lack of emotion on the field, remember that there's not much to celebrate when your team is losing in 106-degree heat. When things are going well, it looks like teams are full of energy. When things aren't going well, there isn't anything to pump your fist about.

Also take note that in post-game interviews Brett shows about the same emotion after a loss that he does after a win. He's always been that way. He never gets too up or too down. That's what makes him great.

It seems like the Packers come out flat for most games. Can't they get a little fire under them? Coach Sherman doesn't seem like he gets his team motivated at all! He doesn't seem overly enthused on the sidelines either. Reminds me a lot of Ray Rhodes. Do you have an answer for this? Don't say they are professionals and that should be motivation enough, because I've heard that before. - Lynerd (Osseo, WI)

I had to laugh when I read this question.

First of all, let me say that no matter what job you have, whether you work in an office building or on a football field, your boss or your coach should be there to motivate you.

But having played for Coach Sherman, I can promise you that he does everything he needs to in that department.

He says all the right things on the practice field, in the locker room, in pregame and after the game. It's up to the players to absorb that information and motivation -- and, yes, motivate themselves, too.

There's only so much Coach Sherman can do. He's as frustrated by the Packers' 1-2 start as anyone, and will take the responsibility on his shoulders. But players have to make plays as well.

How do you feel since retiring? Do you still wish you could be out on the field every Sunday and play with the best? Or, are you happy with your decision to retire. I know we all want to know the answer. - Ryan (Ontario, OH)

Let's make this clear from the beginning: the only reason that I retired was because I broke my shoulder and it didn't heal strong enough for me to play. That's it. Otherwise I'd still be playing. There's no way I would have walked away.

Right now my shoulder is strong enough that I can golf and pick up my kids, I just can't hit anybody. But it's easier to accept retirement knowing that I gave my all as a player.

*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.

Every Monday you can come to to ask LeRoy questions that he will answer along with his Tuesday column.

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

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