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When was Super Bowl champ not best team?


Matt from Halifax, NS

What, in your opinion, are some of the reasons for the dreaded Super Bowl hangover that teams often suffer from? Could the fact that the Packers have so many impact players coming back from IR, competing for roster spots again, potentially mitigate that?

Yeah, it could; so could a 10-man draft class trying to push ring-wearing veterans out. The Super Bowl hangover is a result of two things, as I see it: 1.) Not wanting to turn the page. 2.) Becoming the target of every team in the league. The second one can't be avoided. That's what happens when you're the king of the hill in a king-of-the-hill business; everybody wants to knock you off the hill. Every team you play will have a little more bounce in their step when they play you. Every pass-rusher the Packers face will earn a little more acclaim by sacking Aaron Rodgers. It's the old gunslinger mentality. Everybody will want to draw down the Packers. The first hangover ingredient is the coach's job of overcoming. Nobody wants to turn a page as beautiful as the one the Packers wrote last season. It's human nature to wanna read that page over and over. The coach has to turn that page and he can do that a number of ways. He can ratchet up the training camp regimen, and Mike McCarthy has said he'll do that. He can promote the competition angle, and Coach McCarthy has done that, too, and General Manager Ted Thompson has certainly given Coach McCarthy the ammunition to challenge his players competitively. We'll see. The Super Bowl hangover has claimed a lot of teams. No defending Super Bowl champion has won a playoff game in the season following their Super Bowl title since the 2005 Patriots did it against the Jaguars. The Patriots lost their next game.

Adam from Green Bay, WI

I know Brett Favre did not mentor Rodgers, but is Rodgers mentoring our current backups?

In one way or another, we all mentor each other. The walls in the hallway outside Coach McCarthy's office are lined with pictures of game-day captains. As you look at them, you begin to realize Aaron Rodgers is in all of the shots; he's standing behind the captains, either wearing a goofy face or looking off into the distance. Then you start to see Matt Flynn popping up in the pictures and it becomes entertaining: Rodgers is applying his personality to the team and others begin to join in the fun. That's what I call mentoring. I'm not big on players coaching players. Players play and coaches coach. That doesn't mean that one player can't show another player a trick of the trade; that happens all of the time. I just don't think players should be of the mindset that they are being employed to coach. They need to know, at all times, their employment rests on their performance on the field. Everything else is optional. Just do your job. That has to be the message.

Jonathan from Rochester, NY

Not sure if you would have heard buzz about him or not, but what are your thoughts on the Bills' seventh-round draft choice out of Bethel, Leslie Michael Jasper? He supposedly played last year in the 430-440 pound range and was asked to work on losing about 50 pounds, which he did. In his videos, he looks absolutely colossal, and actually pretty mobile. Has a prospect this large entered the league before?

If Jasper was 300 pounds, he probably wouldn't have been drafted. Based on what I've heard, he did not carry a draftable grade; his size made him worth a long-shot gamble. So, what's the first thing he has to do to make the team? Lose weight. Sorry, I don't get it.

Kerek from Carbondale, CO

Among many people, athletes and non-athletes alike, I am one who becomes victim to common colds and sinus infections once or twice a year (certainly during football season) that render me utterly useless for even my sedentary office job. Why is it never listed in the injury report, "doubtful, sinus infection," or "out, sore throat?" Is it that they never get sick? Or is it that their salaries justify playing sick, which I don't think I could ever do myself?

A player on the injury report because of the sniffles would become the laughing stock of the league. These are big, tough guys and, yes, they get sick, but they don't miss games. I remember that, some years ago, Bruce Smith missed a playoff game because he had the flu and he was absolutely brutalized in the media because he didn't play in the game. Think about that. We all know what it's like to have the flu. Ask yourself, the last time you had the flu, could you have played a football game? I've been flying on team charters for a long time and there always seems to be a player or two on return flights who is down and out with the flu and requires the training staff's attention; this is moments after having played in the game. These guys play with sprains and aches and pains that would have us on the shelf for weeks. They are special physical specimens and our expectations of them exceed our expectations for ourselves.

Joe from Stratford, WI

Why do you think the Packers didn't draft Clay's brother?

He wasn't the highest-rated player on their board when it was their turn to pick.

Terry from Colorado Springs, CO

How much of the Cobb pick was due to Jones' free-agent status and his recent case of the dropsies?

Randall Cobb was selected because he was the highest-rated player on the Packers' board when it was their turn to pick. I firmly believe that. I absolutely believe Ted Thompson when he says he holds firm to his value board and I don't understand why fans doubt that he does. Look at it this way: Heading into the draft, most believed the Packers' greatest needs were for a defensive lineman and an outside linebacker. So, when did the Packers address those two needs? In the final two rounds of the draft. To me, that says it all.

Richie from Truckee, CA

I hear a lot of people suggesting Cobb could come in and add the "Wildcat" formation to our offense. I don't think the Packers will ever even consider it. My question is this: Why would anyone suggest you take a top-five QB off the field at any point in a game unless he's injured?

You install the "Wildcat" in your offense and you show it here and there for one major reason: It gives your opponent one more thing for which to prepare. It makes your opponent's work a little more difficult and a little bit longer, and maybe it'll dull their focus just a little on a more important play. Don't let the "Wildcat" get to you. It's a diversion. That's all it is now. The "Wildcat" has run its course. It was a one-year wonder.

James from Colorado Springs, CO

Do only the players on the roster for the Super Bowl receive Super Bowl rings, or do those on IR get one, also?

It's up to the team. There are no rules governing who gets Super Bowl rings.

Jesse from Pawnee, IL

I liked how almost everyone in the green room that got drafted had bling that no college student could ever afford. They probably took out some extra student loans with the mentality, "I'm gonna be in the NFL, I'll pay this back with my million-dollar paycheck."

Yeah, that's probably it.

Eli from Tulsa, OK

Do you think Jenkins will be a Packer when the season starts?

Cullen Jenkins indicated in a recent interview that he doesn't expect to be back with the Packers in 2011. I've stuck by a couple of beliefs and they've served me well in these matters: It's a young man's game and it's a game of replacement. You have to constantly turn over your roster to youth. That doesn't mean you don't have older players on your roster, it just means that younger players often push older players out. Hey, that's how the older player made the team when he was a young player; it's attrition. Mike Neal is one of those young players. What's best about the Packers, that they're Super Bowl champions or that they're a young team that appears poised to make several more runs at the Super Bowl? As you ponder that question, ask yourself this: If the Packers were the reigning Super Bowl champions after loading up with old players for one last run before the team got old and had to be gutted, would you be happy now? It's a young man's game. Stay young.

Charles from Yigo, Guam

When do you think the NFL is going to wake up and change the playoff format? With only four teams in a division and 16 regular-season games, the division championship just isn't valid in determining the best teams. Worst-case scenario under the current system could have a 3-13 division winner hosting a playoff game (all teams in division split with each other and lose all non-division games, champion decided by tie-breakers). If we are going to add two more games it will be even worse.

So you want a time-honored system that has served the league well since the merger to be abandoned because of the possibility that a 3-13 team could win the Super Bowl? I'll tell you, I'm all for keeping that system because I'd love to see a 3-13 team win the Super Bowl. That would be fun to watch. Be that as it may, when was the last time the Super Bowl champion wasn't the best team? Were the Packers the best team last season? Didn't they prove that by marching through Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago and then defeating a good Steelers team in the Super Bowl? Were the Saints the best team in 2009? Did the Steelers prove themselves in that final drive against the Cardinals the previous year? Didn't the Giants do the same against the undefeated Patriots the previous year? Tell me, when was the last time the NFL format failed to provide us with a champion that wasn't at least arguably the best team in the league?

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