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Who are the toughest players in Packers history?


Patrick from Hopkins, MN

Who knows how long this lockout will continue? Can you see there being a slight drop in player stats across the board this season due to different preparation? Sure, players have been able to work out on their own but, as you say, there's no substitute for the coaches coaching their players.

Should practice time be lost, and we've now reached the point that it's going to happen, it'll be interesting to see how that lost practice time impacts performance during the season. Should performance be judged to have suffered due to a reduction in offseason practice time, then that'll say something about the need for OTAs and training camp. Should practice time be lost and performance not decline, then that'll say something about not needing as many OTAs or training camp practices. It's something for which to watch.

Randy from Grand Junction, CO

I think the "Tailgate Tour" is great. Do any other teams do anything like this?

I agree; it's a grand gesture. Yes, other teams do it. Some teams call it a caravan. Teams that are more regional in scope conduct these types of promotional tours or caravans. It's a way of reaching out to their out-of-town fan bases. The Chiefs and Jaguars have done it; other teams have, too. The thing I like most about the way the Packers do their "Tailgate Tour" is that most of their stops fall into the "surprise" category. I think that produces a wonderfully spontaneous result, much like a surprise birthday party.

Tom from Pine City, MN

Who do you think is the biggest threat to the Packers in the NFC North the next five years?

I think it's the Lions. I like the way they're building their team: in the middle. They got the quarterback and the dominant defensive tackle. That's a time-honored formula for building a championship football team: Aaron Rodgers and B.J. Raji, for example. You don't build a championship football team by drafting wide receivers. That was lunacy. Matt Stafford is the issue for the Lions. He has to stay healthy and become a franchise-type quarterback. If that happens, the Lions will be a challenger for a long time.

Mike from Onalaska, WI

Some of my favorite players from years ago are Tobin Rote, Dave Hanner and Fred Cone. Is there any way to tell if they played for other teams after leaving the Packers?

Tobin Rote was a true football ironman. He played 17 seasons of pro football, the first seven of which were spent in Green Bay. He then played three seasons in Detroit, before finishing up his career in the fledgling AFL; he played two years for the Chargers and one season for the Broncos. Hanner played all of his career, 1952-64, with the Packers. After concluding his Packers career (1951-57), Fred Cone resurfaced with the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960, but he converted only six of 13 field goal attempts and that would be his final pro season.

Mark from Byron, IL

I begin each work day with your wit, opinions and expertise; it does add to As a "Gold Package" season-ticket holder, would we regain our third regular-season game if the league were to go to an 18-game season? Even if it were so, I still prefer my team being as healthy as possible, which to me is why they should leave well enough alone.

Nobody knows for sure what the preseason structure would be in an 18-game season, but the expectation is that it would be a two-game preseason, which means the total number of dates would remain the same. I think that would be easier to sell to the players than increasing the total number of dates, plus, I think the commissioner wants to move away from preseason games. I honestly do believe two is enough. What concerns me about 18 regular-season games is that it might include a further softening of the game, and I don't think that would be good for the game. In my opinion, a move to 18 games needs to be accompanied by an increase in the size of rosters, not a reduction in the physical demands of the game.

David from Madison, WI

There are lots of examples throughout sports of colossal upsets, where the champion was clearly not the best team. The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates immediately come to mind. You could eliminate the controversy simply by calling the playoff winner a deserving champion rather than the best team. Then I bet no one would disagree with you.

A deserving champion? No way. The 1980 Russian hockey team went head-to-head with the U.S. team and the U.S. team won. Head-to-head trumps all. The 1960 Yankees, with Mantle and Maris and Ford and Berra and on and on, went head-to-head with the Pirates for seven games and the score was tied in the bottom of the ninth when Mazeroski ended the Series with one swing. The Yankees had the same opportunities to win but they didn't get it done. Head-to-head trumps all. Just win, baby. Don't show me stats, show me wins. Show me the team, the player that gets it done at crunch time.

Legion from Austin, TX

Tiki Barber's average fumbles per year as a full-time starter under Jim Fassel: 8.75 (4.75 lost). Barber's average fumbles per year starting under Tom Coughlin: 3.0 (1.7 lost).

Clearly, under Coughlin, Barber overcame his "callous disregard for the ball."

Jesse from Weslaco, TX

The NFL had an article about the five or six toughest players to ever play the game. Who would be some of the toughest players to ever play for Green Bay?

I think that's a list that begins with Ray Nitschke. I'm now accepting candidates for No. 2 on that list.

Dewar from Van Nuys, CA

Love your writing here. I argue with my New England roommate on how I think Aaron Rodgers is better than Tom Brady, while he argues the opposite. It's hard to argue because of Brady's rings. Just watching them play, it seems hard for Brady to not do well in that perfect system without ever getting touched. I just feel A-Rod is more talented. Do you have any amazing statistics that can back me up? Thanks.

I think you need to slow down and give closer examination to what Brady has done for the Patriots since 2001. Start with the rings. Brady is one of the great clutch quarterbacks in the history of the game. At one point in his career, he was being talked about as possibly the greatest quarterback in pro football history. If he had won against the Giants in the 2007 season's Super Bowl, I think he might've achieved that distinction. Hey, it's not his fault the Patriots dropped two interceptions in the Giants' game-winning drive. Brady did his job in the previous drive. He took his offense down the field to score what should've been the game-winning touchdown. I have a strong respect for football history. I don't like it when the accomplishments of players in the past are quickly dismissed as unimportant because they aren't happening today. Aaron Rodgers, in my opinion, is the best quarterback in the game, but three rings are three rings. Take a look at Brady's postseason record before you dismiss what he's done.

Roland from Forest Hills, NY

I keep reading these comments talking about the 2005 Steelers, '07 Giants and '10 Packers. I have to strongly disagree with most of them. If you make the playoffs and beat the best teams in a playoff, especially on the road, then you have earned the title of being the best. In college football, we hate the BCS because we think the Boise States play easy schedules and get cheap wins, so people are eager for a playoff. The aforementioned Super Bowl champions had SEC-type regular-season schedules. They still made it to the tournament and had enough left in the tank to go on the road and, in some cases, totally embarrass the home team.

That's beautifully said. Here's something else to consider: Those three teams played a combined nine postseason games on the road and are a combined 9-0 in those games. Think about that for a minute. Nine up, nine down and all of them on the road. Wins in Indianapolis, Denver, Green Bay, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago; you just don't win in those places very often. How could anybody look down their nose at what those three teams did?

Brendon from Monterey, CA

While I don't necessarily disagree with you, it's kind of tough to have a discussion about the best team not winning the Super Bowl when you essentially define "best team" as the one that won. It's a tautology.

Do you have to live in California to think like that? Please don't take that the wrong way. What you've said is incredibly lucid. Is there something in California that causes moments of such clarity?

Dwight from Athens, WI

The Packers organization and players are involved in a lot of charitable causes. Is this common throughout the league and, if so, does the league encourage teams and players to be active in their communities?

Yes, it's common throughout the league and the league not only encourages it, but includes aid to charities within its corporate structure. NFL Charities has been providing millions of dollars to charities since it was founded in 1973. Some of the NFL United Way commercials are classics. We're in a lockout and it's unpopular, but let's not forget what the NFL means to a lot of people who've come to depend on the league for help. The NFL is a symbol of American life, and NFL Charities is the league's symbol of the very best our way of life has to offer.

Mark from Jacksonville, FL

All these Super-Bowl-winner-not-the-best questions seem to be a symptom of the stats phenomenon. We love stats. They tell us who the best is. Stats prove everything to us, except when they don't.

I have nothing against stats. I think they should be treated with respect when they are used to represent a player's or team's body of work. Winning, however, is deserving of the ultimate respect. Nothing beats winning.

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