TODAY: The Bears and Packers renew one of the richest rivalries in sports. They mark their 167th regular-season meeting, and 168th overall including the 1941 Western Division playoff, the first divisional playoff in NFL history...Green Bay with a win would improve to 2-0 for the first time in three years and only the third time in since they opened 1998 with four wins.
NFL HONORS TILLMAN: All 1,440 active players this week will wear a No. 40 helmet decal to honor Pat Tillman, the first NFL player killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
*Tillman left the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 to join the U.S. Army. He qualified for the Army Rangers and was killed in Afghanistan while on patrol with his unit.
*The Packers have at least two direct ties to Tillman. His former Cardinals head coach is Vince Tobin, now special assistant on the Packers' staff. Center/guard Grey Ruegamer was Tillman's college teammate at Arizona State.
*The timing is to conincide with the home opener of the Cardinals, who will wear the decal all season, and at halftime will honor Tillman and other Arizonans who died in service to their country.
*On Aug. 16 vs. Seattle, the Packers held a similar tribute. Breaking with pregame custom, rather than introduce their starters the team instead honored 22 families of Wisconsin soldiers lost in combat. The team formed a walkway for the families to walk to midfield.
McKENZIE ACTIVATED: The Packers Saturday took cornerback Mike McKenzie off the exempt/commissioner's permission list, and waived tight end Sean McHugh.
SERIES TIED SINCE 1943: Chicago holds a six-game advantage (83-77-6) in the all-time series...However, over the last 120 games (1943-2003), the series stands at 59-59-2.
WELCOME TO THE NFL: Nose tackle James Lee is expected to make his first NFL start in his second NFL game. The starter, Grady Jackson, dislocated his kneecap three plays into the season Monday night at Carolina, and is out approximately 3-4 weeks.
*Lee, who fully expects the Bears to target him, last started a game four years ago, at the College of the Redwoods, a junior college in Eureka, Calif.
*In that game, Lee tore both his MCL and ACL, which demolished his morale and kept him out of shape the following summer. Then, Dennis Erickson, a gritty junior-college recruiter, brought him to Oregon State, but a Redwoods professor forgot to turn in a grade and the NCAA sidelined Lee for the first 10 days of the Beavers' fall camp. That setback cost Lee any shot at starting, although he did play in 23 career games.
*Then, after Green Bay took him in the fifth round of the 2003 draft, his 2003 rookie season ended just minutes into his first training-camp practice, with a back injury.
A 273-POUND HALFBACK?: If Najeh Davenport can't go today, that's what the Packers could use against the Bears.
*Nick Luchey, normally a fullback, signed as an unrestricted free agent before the '03 season. During his first one-plus seasons in Green Bay, the Packers have used him in some packages that give them, essentially, seven total offensive linemen.
*Today, though, with the Packers possibly short-handed, Luchey could see his first action there since Dec. 22, 2002, when he replaced Corey Dillon and Brandon Bennett in the Bengals' backfield at New Orleans. All of Luchey's 12 carries that season came in the fouth quarter, as he helped Cincy erase a 13-7 deficit with 59 yards and two TDs in a 20-13 win.
*Luchey has carried the ball in two of his last 49 NFL games, that contest with Cincinnati and Dec. 29, 2003, when he rushed once for 3 yards vs. Denver.
*Davenport strained his hamstring Monday night at Carolina.
AHMAN GREEN: On the franchise's all-time list:
*Needs one 100-yard rushing game to tie Jim Taylor's career record, 26. Green enters Sunday with 25 in a Packers uniform.
*Needs a rushing touchdown to surpass the No. 3 streaks (five; Tobin Rote, 1956; Jim Taylor 1961 and 1964; and Brent Fullwood, 1988). Green has a rushing TD in five straight games.
*Needs one touchdown to tie No. 5 Antonio Freeman (57); Green has 56 TDs in a Packers uniform.
*Needs 11 receiving yards to surpass No. 3 Edgar Bennett (1,920) among Packers backs. Green has 1,910. William Henderson has 1,851.
*Needs three receptions for 200 career.
*Needs 88 receiving yards for 2,000 career.
FAVRE CAN TIE FOURTH-LONGEST STREAK: Brett Favre enters today having thrown for a TD in 26 straight games, a franchise record. Longest all-time NFL streaks:
47, Johnny Unitas, BalC, 1956-60
30, Dan Marino, Mia, 1985-87
28, Dave Krieg, Sea, 1983-85
27, Chris Chandler, Atl, 1997-99
Peyton Manning, Ind, 1998-99
26, Brett Favre (Games 8-16, 2002, through Game 1, 2004)
22, Cecil Isbell (Games 1-11, 1941; Games 1-11, 1942)
18, Brett Favre (Games 3-16, 1997; Games 1-4, 1998)
17, Brett Favre (Games 8-16, 1994; Games 1-8, 1995)
15, Don Majkowski (Gms 15-16, 1988; Gms 1-13, 1989)
OLDEST RIVALRIES IN SPORTS - Chicago-Green Bay is not the NFL's oldest active series. That distinction belongs to the Bears and Arizona Cardinals, who first met as the Decatur Staleys and Chicago Cardinals, respectively, in 1920.
*However, Bears-Packers is the league's richest rivalry, as the perennial division foes have met all but one season since 1921. The franchises have run over each other to rank 1-2 in both NFL championships and pro hall of famers. Combined, they've collected 21 of the 84 NFL championships (Green Bay 12, Chicago 9), using legendary figures that account for 46 of the 221 individuals enshrined in Canton (Chicago 26, Green Bay 20).
*During their 84-year-old series, the clubs have occupied the top two spots in their division 13 times. The last was 2001, when Chicago (13-3) claimed the final NFC Central crown, but two of the Bears' three losses were to the Packers (12-4).
*Across major-league sports in North America, the oldest active series dates to 1876, when the National League's Chicago White Stockings met the Boston Red Caps. Today, those franchises are known, respectively, as the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.
FAVRE ON THE NFL'S ALL-TIME LIST:
*Needs 14 completions to surpass No. 3 Warren Moon (3,988). He has 3,975.
*Needs one game of at least three TD passes for 50 career. Only Dan Marino (62) has more games throwing for three-or-more touchdowns.
*Needs 25 completions for 4,000 career.
*On the team's all-time list, needs three PAT attempts to surpass No. 1 Chris Jacke (306). Longwell has 304.
*Needs one PAT to surpass No. 1 Chris Jacke (301). Longwell has 301.
*Needs two field-goal attempts to surpass No. 1 Chris Jacke (224). Longwell has 223.
DARREN SHARPER: On the team's all-time list:
*Needs two interceptions to surpass No. 5 Irv Comp (33). Sharper has 32.
*Needs one touchdown to tie both Bobby Dillon and Doug Hart (four) for second on the defensive TD list. Sharper has three.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"I don't think there is anything more exciting in football than an offensive line absolutely dominating a defense on the ground."
- National Security Adviser Condolezza Rice, before Monday's game at Carolina, to the Charlotte Observer
ANOTHER NAME JOINS THE QB LIST: Ken Dorsey is expected to make his first NFL start at quarterback today as San Francisco plays at New Orleans.
*Dorsey will become the 174th quarterback to start an NFL game since Brett Favre launched his current starting streak, Sept. 27, 1992.
*Cincinnati's Carson Palmer became the first 2004 name on the list last week.
*Also today, Miami's A.J. Feeley is expected to become Miami's 10th starter since Favre's streak began. Washington, with Mark Brunell last week, and Chicago both lead the team list with 16.
THE 'SHORT' WEEK: Mike Sherman, entering today, is 16-3 combined in both Monday night games and the week after. He's 8-2 on Monday night and 8-1 in "short" weeks following Monday night games. Wednesday, Sherman was asked why the Packers have been so successful after playing Monday. Always prepared, he outlined his proactive approach:
1) Once the NFL releases the schedule in the spring, Sherman's coaches scout every short-week opponent during the offseason, to get at least a five-month jump on those gameplans. In this week's instance, with the Packers playing a club with a new coaching staff, Green Bay this offseason scouted game film from both St. Louis and Kansas City, former respective clubs of head coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Terry Shea.
2) Sherman gives the players half of Wednesday off, asking them to report early in the afternoon rather than early in the morning. So the players all day off Tuesday, when their plane lands between 2-4 a.m., and half of Wednesday to catch their breath.
3) The Packers implement some elements of their short-week gameplan into the Monday night gameplan, the week prior, and don't tell the players. Then, following the Monday night game, the team doesn't have to devote a lot of time to learning new Xs and Os because the players ran them two days before.
4) Ultimately, Sherman said, the success depends on the attitude of the players, and their commitment to preparation.
STREAKS: Longest active Packers playing streaks entering this afternoon:
Brett Favre, 192
Ryan Longwell, 113
Rob Davis, 104
Al Harris, 97 (including 80 with Eagles)
Marco Rivera, 84
Mike Wahle, 82
Mike Flanagan, 80
TODAY'S NATIONAL ANTHEM: John Vincent, a Packers fan who is the permanent singer at Mike Ditka's Supper Club, will perform the Star Spangled Banner.
AT THE GATES: The team is distributing its annual Packers calendar, sponsored by ShopKo. This year's edition features spectacular, aged photos from all eras of Packers history. It runs from September 2004 to August 2005.
HALFTIME: Today is annual alumni day at Lambeau Field. The 93 former players expected to be honored at halftime:
RAY DI PIERRO
BILLY JOE GRIMES
WILLIAM "RED" MACK
EARL MORRALL (NON GBP)
FRED FUZZY THURSTON
JUDGE NELSON TOBUREN
HAROLD VAN EVERY
TIM VAN GALDER (NON GBP)
POOL REPORTERS: Cliff Christl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, appointed by the Pro Football Writers of America, is the home pool reporter. Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette is the alternate.
NEXT WEEK: Both clubs go indoors. Green Bay and Indianapolis square off in the marquee game of the afternoon, at 3:15 Sunday at the RCA Dome. Chicago meets the Vikings at the Metrodome, an early Sunday kickoff.
*Today, the Colts' Peyton Manning meets Tennessee's Steve McNair in the first matchup of defending co-MVP quarterbacks since the Ice Bowl in 1967, when Green Bay's Bart Starr knocked off Dallas' Don Meredith.