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Women say the darndest things


Wendy from Grafton, MA

Who are the five-most talented players on the Packers?

If you're asking who the five-most accomplished players are, I would say: Charles Woodson, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and Greg Jennings.

Kathy from Sparta, WI

How soon can we begin to purchase "Family Night" tickets for 2012? I would love to take my four grandsons to Lambeau Field to see the Packers.

"Family Night" tickets usually go on sale beginning in June.

Lisa from Clayton, WI

Are the Packers going to have another stock sale?

At the press conference last week that formally announced the new Lambeau Field expansion, Mark Murphy said there would be another stock sale, pending NFL approval. No other details have been offered. Wait for it. It'll be highly publicized. You won't miss it.

Rene from La Habra, CA

Who decides what players jerseys get to be made and sold to the fans? I don't understand how they sell all four of the Packers receivers' jerseys but not Tramon Williams'? Explain that.

You can have a Packers jersey with any player's name or your name on it, made in the Packers Pro Shop (packersproshop.com) at Lambeau Field. It's professional football and it's about the money, which means that in terms of retail sales, as soon as the marketing people that determine these things believe there's a market for selling Tramon Williams jerseys, you'll be able to buy a Tramon Williams jersey. Based on how he played last season, my guess is that it will happen soon.

Annie from Bemidji, MN

With news that the Packers will be wearing the 1929 throwback uniforms against the Rams, will the field at Lambeau be painted blue to match the uniforms?

Sacrilege! You could be arrested in these parts for suggesting such horrors.

Donna from Jacksonville, FL

So, with your PAT idea, this means that a team could kick a 19-yard field goal worth three points, but a 37-yard PAT would be worth one point. This means that shorter kicks could be worth more.

Yeah, but one is after a score and the other one is the score.

Rene from La Habra, CA

The Packers do a great job of finding talent late in the draft and through undrafted free agency, such as Ryan Grant, Donald Driver, James Starks, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Frank Zombo. All these players have had a big impact but were looked over coming out of college. How much of their individual success has to do with the coaching they received? Do you think any of these players would have been as successful if they were picked up by another team?

Mike McCarthy has coached for a lot other teams. Dom Capers has coached for a lot of other teams. Tom Clements has coached for a lot of other teams. All of the Packers' coaches have come from other teams. Yeah, the coaching those players received in Green Bay made them better players, but the success they've enjoyed, in my opinion, is most attributable to the personnel department that identified their talent and brought them to a team that is committed to developing young talent. That's the difference: the commitment to develop young talent. Most teams don't have that kind of patience.

Kelsi from Nellis, WV

Why is a football oval-shaped?

It was once round, but it evolved into its current oval shape over the years as football developed into more of a passing game. The ball Otto Graham threw, for example, wasn't nearly as streamlined as the ball Aaron Rodgers throws.

Carrie from Trinity, FL

I'm really liking what I'm seeing out of James Starks, but I have one concern. It doesn't seem that he picks up the block as well as Ryan Grant. What is your opinion?

I disagree. I think Starks is a perfect cutback-type runner for the stretch-blocking scheme the Packers employ. Obviously, Grant is a perfect fit for that system, too, as evidenced by his production through the years. Both runners are what's called one-cut-and-go guys. They look for that crease of daylight in the wall of blockers in front of them, and they run to that daylight, which often means cutting back behind the block.

Brenda from Sioux Center, IA

Coach McCarthy talks about evolving and self-scouting in order to stay ahead. What changes would you like to see the Packers make from 2010 to 2011 in order to keep opponents on their heels (since most teams have probably done a lot of offseason analyzing of the Packers)?

I'd like to see the Packers become better at running the ball and stopping the run. Here's why: Other than for the teams that can match the Packers' firepower, and there aren't many of those, the formula for every other team on their schedule will be to run the ball, dominate time of possession and keep Rodgers on the bench as much as possible. That has traditionally been the strategy that's been used to beat the Colts. If the Packers can't stop the run, they won't even get a chance to rush the passer and defend against the pass, which is what they do best on defense. Running the ball on offense, of course, would help protect Rodgers against injury. Every team with a great quarterback needs balance between run and pass because that keeps defenses from teeing off on the quarterback on every down.

Jamie from New York, NY

What is the attitude towards female sportswriters in football? I know they are becoming more common, but are they taken seriously?

Yes, they're taken seriously. I don't think any minority in American history has risen as quickly and been more accepted than women sportswriters. They walk around clubhouses doing their job as any sportswriter would. The players don't seem to feel inhibited by their presence and I can't remember the last time I even thought about it. That's a far cry from the first time I was witness to women in a football clubhouse. It became a hot-button issue after the incident in New England, and the following Sunday I walked into the Steelers clubhouse after a game and all of the players were standing at their locker stalls wearing white robes. It was frightening. We've come a long way in a very short time.

Bonnie from Cedarburg, WI

Who determines what colors a team has? Can another team have green and gold?

When the Packers' colors were selected, I have no doubt Curly Lambeau did it. Nowadays, the decision would be made in concert with the league because the colors and uniform design of a team would go directly to sales. Look at the Panthers and Jaguars. They came into the league at the same time, 1995, and their colors and mascots are similar. Why? Because those colors and those mascots were popular at the time, and that would translate into sales. It's called branding. I remember covering a preseason game in Barcelona years ago. It was an all-night flight and it seemed like an awfully long way to go for a preseason game. When we got there, I asked a league guy why we were there, and his answer was because the league could sell a lot of Steelers jerseys in Europe. As far as the colors green and gold, I don't think the league would use that color scheme for another team because it would create an identity crisis for that team. I think it's safe to say that green and gold will forever be the exclusive property of the Packers.

Kristin from Otterbach, Germany

I love my husband. I love him so much that our new house will have a man cave, a space for all things Packers. I will be able to visit, but not stay too long. In order to make the cave truly authentic, I need to know what the official Packers colors are to paint the walls. There is little margin for error.

The "not stay too long" is the most important part. Get that part right and I think he'll be happy with any green and gold you can find.

Courtney from Butte, MT

I am ready for you to answer that question from four months ago, essentially asking you to tell us about you. After reading your article day in and out, I am more curious than ever.

Early in life, I was able to recognize that I possessed limited intelligence. Honesty has served me well. Sports was the only thing I liked and I seemed to have a sharp recall for it, as opposed to recall of what was being taught in the classroom. I knew sportswriters didn't make much money, but that was OK because I grew up in a mill town where nobody had much money and if being a sportswriter got me into the games for free, then I could handle the rest. When I look back on my life, it's clear to see I was shaped by where I grew up. I didn't have a friend who didn't have a parent or grandparent that didn't speak a foreign language. It was that kind of blue-collar, immigrant town. Visiting my friends was like going to a smorgasbord. I'd get spaghetti at one friend's, perogies at another friend's, sauerkraut somewhere else. Let's see, what would I like to eat tonight? The moment you walked in the door, they started shoving food at you. Nobody was too fancy, which is probably why I still can't force myself to buy a fancy car or clothes; I would feel guilty. I had a paper route as a kid. In those days, we had to collect the money from the subscribers, and if I didn't collect on mill payday, which was every other Wednesday, my subscribers wouldn't pay me. I'm talking about 42 cents a week. When you grow up in that kind of environment, you never take yourself too seriously and you learn to enjoy simple things. Here's where football enters the picture: It has always been the thing I've enjoyed the most. It was the most magnificent and colorful thing in our lives. We had nothing to compare it to in the way of glamour and scope; everything else was dull. I was seven or eight years old when I first saw a high school football practice. That was it. I was hooked. Fifty-some years later, I still have the same feeling when I walk onto a practice field, it's just now they don't hit as much in practice as they did then. I wish they did because I like the hitting, but I understand there's too much money involved to risk injury. I will always love football. It raised me.

Bonnie from Phipot, KY

With the wide receivers, is it vanity over protection? Wearing knee and thigh pads can't slow you down that much. Has anyone timed the difference?

It's state of mind, Bonnie. They have to believe they're faster than the guy covering them and they'll do whatever it takes to gain that mental edge. Football is a speed game.

Martha from Newport, NH

I became a Packers fan in the 1960s after reading Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay. I felt that I knew that Packer team on a personal level. Is there any chance a current or recent member of the team will write an inside story?

That's a legendary team. If this team achieves that status, there'll be a book, but you can't manufacture legends. They have to happen on their own time. One Super Bowl title a legend doesn't make.

Matilda from Rourke, TX

Do you think Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player, or is he just a throwback-type player in a soft era?

I don't know if he's a dirty player, but I know he's my kind of player.

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