HE'S EVEN: Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman comes into tonight's contest with a .500 record in preseason openers. He presided at a 37-24 victory over the New York Jets in his NFL debut as a head coach in 2000, staged in Lambeau Field, and last year saw his Green and Gold shaded by the Browns in their 2001 baptismal at Cleveland, 10-3.
Overall, he has compiled a 4-4 record in preseason competition to date, having gone 2-2 in both 2000 and 2001.
THE NUMBERS GAME: The breakdown of the Packers' current training camp roster reveals that 60 of their number are veterans and 28 others rookies and first-year players. Of the latter categories, 19 of the 28 are "pure" rookies.
The first mandatory roster reduction, to 65 players, must be made by 3 p.m. (CDT) Tuesday, August 27. The final reduction, to 53 players, must be made by 3 p.m. (CDT) Sunday, September 1.
Six of the veterans are "double-digit" professionals, with center Frank Winters and linebacker Hardy Nickerson the team's elder statesmen as 16-year performers. Next up is quarterback Brett Favre, in his 12th season, followed by offensive tackle Earl Dotson, defensive/back punt returner Darrien Gordon and quarterback Doug Pederson, all 10-year pros.
FOUR MEMBERS of the Packers' entourage for tonight's game have Pennsylvania origins. Asst. Head Coach Bob Slowik and Offensive Line Coach Larry Beightol are natives of Pittsburgh while guard Bill Ferrario hails from Scranton and linebacker Rob Holmberg from McKeesport.
HOLMBERG, INCIDENTALLY, comes from the same Western Pennsylvania region that spawned three Hall of Fame quarterbacks - Joe Montana (his teenage idol), Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.
A SPECIAL HOMECOMING: Tonight's contest has a special appeal for Stan Drayton, the Packers' quality control assistant/special teams-offense. A Cleveland native, he coached at Philadelphia's Villanova for five years (1996-2000) and while there, tutored Eagles rookie running back Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia's third-round selection in this year's NFL draft, for the first three years of Westbrook's collegiate career, including a 1,220-yard rushing season in 2000.
"I can't wait," Drayton enthused, "to see him in an NFL uniform."
DRAYTON HIMSELF had a highly-productive collegiate career as a running back as a Pennsylvania collegian, earning first-team All-America selection for three consecutive years at Allegheny College in Pittsburgh and graduating as the leading rusher and scorer in the institution's history.
THE LAST TIME the Packers played a preseason game in Philadelphia - on September 13, 1945 - the fabled Don Hutson still was wearing Green Bay's green and gold (also navy blue, then one of the team's uniform colors). Hutson, however, did not dress for the game, triggering speculation that he, then a 10-year veteran of the NFL wars, was going to retire.
Hutson, who at that point had been talking retirement each season for two or three years, did return for an 11th and final season, closing out his career that '45 campaign with a league-leading 47 receptions for 834 yards, a 17.7-yard average, and 9 touchdowns - in 10 games.
CLOSE CALL: Muhammed-Kabeer Olarewaju Gbaja-Biamila still is the possessor of the longest name in the Packers' 83-year history - but not by much. Rookie running back Najeh Monte Trenadious Davenport of Miami (Fla.) University, Green Bay's fourth-round selection in this year's NFL draft, fell only six letters short of a "tie."