TODAY: The Green Bay franchise embarks on its 86th NFL season, and 88th overall since Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun decided to start up a team at a local pub in 1919...Mike McCarthy, the 14th head coach in a Packers coaching geneology that includes four Pro Football Hall of Famers - including a first-time NFL head coach who made his debut on this field against the Bears in 1959 - makes his NFL debut...Classic foes in one of the richest rivalries in sports history, the Bears and Packers square off for the 171st renewal in their series - the 18th time they've opened an NFL season in Green Bay and 20th season they've kicked off together...Lovie Smith, now the dean of NFC North coaches in his third year with the Bears, has defeated Green Bay in three of his first four meetings after declaring upon his 2004 hiring that his program's No. 1 goal was to beat the Packers...The Packers haven't lost three consecutive games to Chicago since 1990-92, when the Bears triumphed in five straight...Brett Favre, who has 396 career touchdown passes and 221 straight starts, authors the foreward for his 16th NFL season - his 15th in Green Bay. Only Bart Starr (16) and Ray Nitschke (15) have played as many in a Packers uniform.
10TH ANNIVERSARY: In a special pregame ceremony, the Packers will honor members of the Super Bowl XXXI championship team.
-Nearly 40 contriubtors from the 1996 team will be introduced at 2:50 p.m. and brought to the 50-yard line for recognition. The pregame ceremony then will conclude with attention directed to Lambeau Field's east side façade where the name of the late Reggie White, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 5, will be unveiled. Sara and Jeremy White, Reggie's wife and son, respectively, will be on the field for the unveiling.
-The names gracing the east and west facades, one of the more awe-inspiring features of Lambeau Field's bowl, are often misidentified as the Green Bay "Ring of Fame" or "Ring of Honor." Most franchises induct former players, coaches and contributors into an exclusive club, usually called a Ring of Honor and containing on average 15-20 individuals. In Green Bay, though, the soon-to-be 21 names list the franchise's Pro Football Hall of Famers. The names are in no particular order. And unlike most other stadiums that display names on their facade, most of the Packers' individuals (13 including White) actually played/coached on the field in front of them.
OTHER PREGAME INFORMATION: Today's national anthem - Katherine Biskupic, grandaughter of former lineman Ron Kostelnik (1961-68), followed by a fly-by of two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets, part of the VX9 "Vampires" from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center (Calif.).
NEXT WEEK: Green Bay welcomes the New Orleans Saints to Lambeau Field Sunday for a noon kickoff (FOX)...Chicago has another NFC North clash with the Detroit Lions in the Soldier Field opener, Sunday at noon (FOX).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY & IN COMING WEEKS -
56 NICK BARNETT:
-Needs 10 total tackles for 500 career (has played just 47 NFL games).
80 DONALD DRIVER:
-Needs 12 receptions at Lambeau Field to surpass No. 3 Sterling Sharpe (174), 16 to surpass No. 2 James Lofton (178) and 51 to surpass the stadium's all-time leader, Antonio Freeman (213). Driver enters with 163 career catches at Lambeau.
-Needs 71 receiving yards at Lambeau Field to surpass No. 3 Sterling Sharpe (2,309) on the stadium's all-time list. Driver enters with 2,239 career receiving yards at Lambeau.
-Has a reception in 64 consecutive games, the franchise's second-longest streak behind Sharpe's 103 (1988-94).
-Needs 186 yards of total offense for 5,000 career.
-Needs two TD receptions to reach 30 career. In team history, only 10 players have reached the milestone. Bubba Franks enters with 29 and Javon Walker with 22.
4 BRETT FAVRE:
On the NFL's all-time passing list...
-Needs four touchdown passes to become the second in NFL history with 400, joining Dan Marino (420). Favre enters with 396. Marino reached the milestone in his 227th NFL game. Favre enters having played 225 league contests.
88 BUBBA FRANKS:
-Needs 64 receiving yards for 2,000 career.
-Needs two TD receptions at Lambeau Field to tie No. 3 Robert Brooks (17) and five to tie No. 2 Sterling Sharpe (20) on the stadium's all-time list. Franks enters with 15 Lambeau Field TD receptions.
-Needs one TD reception to reach 30 career. In team history, only 10 previous players have reached the milestone. (Driver enters with 28).
30 AHMAN GREEN:
On Green Bay's all-time rushing list...
-Needs three rushing touchdowns to surpass No. 2 Paul Hornung (50). Green enters with 48.
-Needs two overall touchdowns to surpass No. 4 Paul Hornung (62). Green enters with 61 in a Packers uniform.
-Needs one rushing touchdown for 50 career.
-Needs one 100-yard rushing game for 30 career, and two for 30 in a Packers uniform.
-Needs 231 yards from scrimmage for 10,000 career. Green enters with 9,769 (7,432 rushing, 2,337 receiving).
-Needs 562 yards from scrimmage for 10,000 in a Packers uniform. Green enters with 9,438 (7,103 rushing, 2,335 receiving).
-Needs 16 touches for 2,000 career. Green enters with 1,984 (1,605 rushing attempts, 304 receptions, 63 kickoff returns, 10 fumble recoveries and two passing attempts).
31 AL HARRIS:
-Needs to return one interception for a touchdown to tie No. 5 Charley Brock, Doug Hart and Ken Ellis (all with three) on Green Bay's all-time career list. With a second TD on an interception, would match No. 4 Johnny (Blood) McNally, who returned four. Harris enters with two.
33 WILLIAM HENDERSON:
-Needs one game played for 175 career.