Wednesday, December 28, 2005

End Of The Season and Sherman's Future

I’m very excited for Sunday. For two reasons.

One is a good reason: I am going to my first (and only) Packer game of the 2005 season, to see the final game against the Seahawks. I don’t get to many games in a season, so when I walk around the Atrium and the concourse, I really do cherish the time.

The other reason, however, is probably less exciting than it is a sense of foreboding, because I’m waiting for a press conference from Ted Thompson that may come as early as Sunday night, making an announcement that will set the Packers’ future in motion.

That decision, of course, will start with Mike Sherman’s job, which one has the feeling has had a decision made on it already, win or lose against Seattle. I’m sure a crushing loss against Mike Holmgren’s backups at home could speed up that announcement, though.

I have a strong feeling we are looking at Mike Sherman’s last couple of days as Packer head coach. Some will celebrate, some will wail. Some will quickly change their “Bad News” to “Good News” and pop open some champagne. Some will wave goodbye to a Packer era, and look forward to whatever changes are coming on the horizon, with foreboding or hopefulness.

Chris Havel had a scathing article about Mike Sherman in Wednesday’s Green Bay Press-Gazette, calling for Sherman to be fired by Ted Thompson. This was surprising and very bold by Havel, a reporter I’ve followed very closely since he first began writing for the Packers.

You can read his article and get all of his opinions about Sherman, but the fact he’s written the article at all gives us some interesting conclusions that we can jump to, none of which seem too improbable.

First of all, it is very rare, especially in a small market like Green Bay, for the local writer to call for the head coach’s dismissal in such a grandiose way. While I would expect this from the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal writers, the usual Pollyanna editorials of the Press-Gazette normally wouldn’t tread into this territory.

So, why would Havel break the ice? Using a little deduction, one can definitely assume that, if Mike Sherman is definitely staying on as head coach, or even has a solid chance at staying, a primary local reporter would never burn his bridges with the head coach for the next season (and possibly beyond). Havel is either very brave, very foolish, or knows something we don’t.

Havel is fairly outspoken, but tends to thrive in finding ways to cleverly craft words together to put people in a light he chooses (usually negative), not blatantly rip someone else’s livelihood. This is abnormal for Havel.

Havel is also fairly well respected not only in the community, but by the team. He’s a bit negative, and definitely chums with Favre, but no fool.

That leaves one option, which is he knows something we don’t. I don’t think Havel would make these statements without knowing he has a new coach to appeal to next season.

To me, this means one thing: Sherman is a goner, and Havel knows it. This isn’t just an opinion piece. It’s a eulogy.

If you’ve also listened to Havel on his radio show, you’ve heard that he’s been very less than appreciative of Sherman’s coaching style as of late, and been quite vocal in his disgust with him. What makes a man so angry? Losing? No, Havel has covered losing teams before, and never been this focused.

If you want to make a man mad, hit him where it hurts. Where does Havel hurt? Easy. Brett Favre.

Chris Havel has written two books with Brett, and has openly admitted it’s foolish for him to bite the hand that feeds him. If there is any such thing as a “Favre Acolyte”, Chris Havel would be the presiding cardinal of the church.

Some of this may simply stem from the fact that Favre has had such a terrible season, throwing 28 interceptions and looking to add to that total on Sunday. Havel may see the same things many of us have seen: a coach who has not only mishandled the needs Favre has as a player, but an increasing amount of reliance on Favre to pull games out single-handedly, and allowed him to take the lion’s share of blame when he can’t do it.

Sherman doesn’t hold Favre accountable for his mistakes on the field, and keeps allowing him to make the throws that hurt the team, without making it clear that he needs to adjust. Sherman and his staff are a bit intimidated of Brett Favre, and Favre doesn’t thrive under those circumstances. He needs a father figure who is going to put him on the wall if he needs it. Mike Holmgren did that. So did his own father, Irv, even when Brett was a professional player.

Using some inference, though, the possibility also exists that Havel’s cash cow has come to an end, and that it is all over but the crying for Brett Favre’s career in Green Bay. That would make a man pretty upset; knowing that book #3 isn’t coming. Havel may also know that Favre will indeed call it quits, whether based on tangible information, or just a feeling after working with him for so long.

That’d make me pretty angry at the person I hold responsible for coaching. And Havel is.

My deductions on Favre’s retirement are more observation and guesswork based on this article.

But, when it comes to Mike Sherman and his future with the Green Bay Packers, I think Havel has sent the public more than just another anti-Sherman rant.

He sent notice that Sunday night will be much more eventful than Sunday afternoon.

No comments: