Friday, August 5, 2011

TundraVision Heading Over To Cheesehead TV

Well, it finally happened.

Had a nice meeting with the omnipresent Aaron Nagler, who extended the invite for me to come on over and write for CheeseheadTV.  Against what you might believe, it wasn't an easy decision.  There's a bit of independence that I've gotten over the years just writing at my little blog, nice to not have deadlines or feeling like you might be pulled directions you weren't planning on being pulled in.  And CHTV is big, and I predict it is going to get even bigger.  That's cool and daunting at the same time, but I have a ton of faith in Corey's drive to keep pushing the envelope of what fan-based Packer coverage can do, and in Aaron's sheer force of will to keep CheeseheadTV at the forefront of the blogosphere.

In the end, it was Aaron's honest discussion of what he wanted me to do for CHTV.  The plan is for me to be a feature writer, which is really what I've been here.  The only problem is that when you put out two or three five-page-long articles a week (at best), you don't get a lot of traffic compared to the sites that are pumping out and tweeting 5-10 articles a day.  I realize I'm never going to be that guy who scours the news and quickly puts out a report citing the latest move and offering a quick two cents on it.  I'd love to, but the 9-5 job and family of five simply doesn't allow me to do it, and I am very thankful for both.

So, my goal has always been to "write a lot about a little", to try and tie different stories together and get a pulse not only on what's going on with the Packers, but with what is going on with the fan base, too.  Like it or not, we are a part of the story, because Lambeau Field would be pretty darned quiet without all those folks lining the seats.  CHTV is offering me the opportunity to write those longer, thoughtful articles without having to worry if people forgot the URL for TundraVision in the gaps between.

Believe it or not, Aaron, Corey, and I have gone back and forth on this for almost a year now.  Seems like the right time, and I'm glad to be an official part of the CHTV family.  I'm joining some fantastic talents that I've been honored to work with in the past: Corey, Aaron, Brian, Holly, Max, John, Jayme, and Andrew (who I actually haven't worked with yet, but look forward to it).  It also brings pretty much all of Cheesehead Radio under one roof, too.

In the next few weeks, the URL will redirect to CHTV, but the will remain right here.  I'm superstitious enough that I like a permanent repository for all that I write, and so I will copy my articles back over here, as well as anything else I write that may not be CHTV-ready.

For those of you who have followed my writing over the last six years or so (whether you liked it or not), thank you for giving me the encouragement (or a chip on my shoulder) to keep at it.  Please bookmark Cheesehead TV and look for my first article there this upcoming Sunday.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Packers Shareholders Meeting Pics and Videos

Hey gang, thanks to the illustrious Jersey Al Bracco, I was able to attend my first Packer Shareholder's Meeting this year.  I didn't get in a whole ton of pictures, but I did get in a couple.  Here you go:

We sat over in the corner, somewhat away from the staging area, but very close to the player's tunnel, which was nice as folks would come out of the tunnel and we would get glimpses of them.   Before the game, Kevin Greene was standing there, and we found out later that his wife was singing the National Anthem for the second year in a row (apparently, she was good luck last year).  Estmated, almost 12,000 people were in attendance, and I was joined by what became an unofficial tweetup with TommyKGB, AlexTallitsch, jrehor, KelKelKelKel (though I didn't actually get to see her), LambeauJoe, PeteSeroogy, Hammen, and KyleCousineau.

Finally, the gentlemen in suits departed the players' tunnel to make their way to the  staging area.  Check out the reception garnered when Ted Thompson makes his way onto the field.  Given the reception he got here three years ago, I don't blame him a bit for not looking out way when we shouted his name, but trust me, there wasn't a Ted Hater in the house (and if there were, I think the Hater would have been facing off against 11,999 folks who sincerely wished to issue their displeasure with him/her).

Was asked on Twitter as to the condition of the field, which was rather diveted after the concert a month or two ago.  It still has a couple of spot that are bare, but not as much as a few weeks ago.  It will be interesting to see the condition at Family Night. If you open this picture and look just to the right of the white signs in the middle of the picture, you'll see one of the divets still there.

It's always a good day when Jason Wilde joins you.  Got to meet him for the first time, thanks to Alex Tallitsch browbeating him out of the bowels of Lambeau Field.  I posted this picture on Twitter, prompting Steve to respond: "and @KyleCousineau09".

Of course, I respond: Well, yeah. But everyone knows who Kyle is."

True dat.

After the meeting, Dan Lauria came out to do the reading from "Lombardi", which was a treat. Some folks were a little disappointed it wasn't longer, but listening to Dan do the "you get a seal here, and a seal here" line sent chills down my spine.

Complete random segue, but I once joined my cousin, who was a professional actor, on his film shoot in Arizona years ago.  I was an extra in the film, and appeared in a scene with H Richard Greene, who played Winnie Cooper's father on The Wonder Years.  So, was a little "Six Degrees" for me seeing Lauria come through the tunnel.

Not the best of quality, but here's a little video snippet of Lauria's reading from a distance.

Here's a little video of Mr. Lauria leaving the field. I am really not sure who is picking the music for Lambeau Field this year, but I am not sure "Glee" should be the album they pick most of their music from.

And finally, as the meeting concluded, here is a pic of Uncle Ted.  For someone like myself who's been an unabashed Thompson Critic over the years (who often got lumped in with the far more vitriolic Thompson Haters), it was very nice to see the extended standing ovation Thompson received during the meeting.  Well deserved, and while I don't plan on discontinuing my criticism of Ted (or any other player or coach who has earned it), I definitely stood with all of Packer Nation in thanking Ted for putting together a team that earned another Super Bowl trophy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barnett and Colledge: Why One Left and One Should Stay

Yesterday, Nick Barnett ended his eight-year tenure as a Green Bay Packer, a productive and boisterous career that certainly made him a presence both on and off the field.  In the next few days, offensive lineman Daryn Colledge might follow him into the uncharted waters of free agency in this new world in the NFL.

I'm certainly sad to see Barnett go.  He was an emotional leader of the team and was one of the first accessible players on Twitter.  He was one of the first big guests on uber-fanshow CheeseheadTV, and was, overall, a class act.  He had his blemishes, too.  He disappeared for long stretches, seemingly reliant on his own emotion to be at a fever pitch to overcome dominant blocking.  He had a prolonged bout with the city of Green Bay over issues at his downtown nightclub.  And he has quit and rejoined Twitter several times over some TMI tweets, not the least of which was publicly complaining he was to be left out of the official Super Bowl team picture last February.

None of that matters, however, because the real reason he left can be summed up in two words:  Desmond Bishop.  Many in the media and the blogger fan base had called for Bishop to get his break for years, usually to try and supplant fellow MLB AJ Hawk.  Barnett's spot, however, was always safe, and he never seemed to have to compete for his position.

It what might be the premier crucible story of the 2010 Green Bay Packers:  injury-decimated team found they usually had equally, if not more competent talent waiting on the bench.  Bishop walked onto the field with solid production and far less theatrics.  While Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl MVP, Bishop has to be considered a close runner-up because of the heroic forced fumble to start the fourth quarter.  Without that one play, I don't know if the Packers own a Lombardi Trophy today.

So, Barnett, who entered the McCarthy era back in 2006 as the de facto starter and never once had to seriously accept a challenge to his position, found himself the odd man out.  Salary cap savings were more important than that emotional leadership, which the Packers also managed to find out they could come up without Mufasa.

Switch now to the curious case of Daryn Colledge, a guy drafted in 2006 to be the integral cog in the new Zone Blocking Scheme, and has had his ups and downs over that time.  He's gone from being the promising rookie to the underachieving veteran that was due for an upgrade, seemingly every single season.  Nearly every year he has been pencilled out of the projected starting lineup, even benched once during the regular season.

But, each and every time, Colledge has fought and earned his place back.  Every.  Time.

Look, Colledge may never reach Pro Bowl status as a guard in the NFL. many Packer guards have over the last forty years?  But Colledge has lived through his whole Packer career under the microscope and proven the doubters least until the following year.

For your viewing pleasure, Ted Thompson has drafted the following offensive players in his time in Green Bay as GM:

1. Junius Coston
2. Wil Whittaker
3. Daryn Colledge
4. Jason Spitz
5. Tony Moll
6. Allen Barbre
7. Josh Sitton
8. Breno Giacomini
9. TJ Lang
10 Jamon Meredith
11. Bryan Bulaga
12. Marshall Newhouse
13. Derek Sherrod
14. Caleb Schlauderaff

Now, Thompson has drafted enough guys over his tenure to make almost three full squads of offensive lines.  And, as we enter Thompson's seventh season as general manager, 40% of the offensive line positions are still, barring injury, being manned by Mike Sherman holdovers.

That's a big deal to me, especially how after nearly every single draft, pundits and armchair quarterbacks around the Packer Blogosphere had every one of these guys, at one point or another, penciled in as a starter in the near future. 

I've made the point many times in the past how 60% of the offensive line had been unable to be "upgraded", that the threesome of Clifton, Tauscher, and Wells were still better than the talent brought in to replace them.

And now, out of fairness and common sense, I'm going to apply the same point to Daryn Colledge.  You see, unlike Barnett, the Packers were never afraid to challenge Colledge at his position.  And let's face it:  at one point or another, both Barnett and Colledge had some underwhelming games.  But Barnett kept his spot, year in and year out, and when an injury finally made him sit the sidelines, the coaches realized that Bishop was ready and willing to not only equal Mufasa's production, but exceed it.

Yet Colledge has been written off, time and time again, with one of those names on that list.   Many of the names that were the presumed heir apparent are no longer with the team, and Colledge has always taken his guard spot back.  Now, I understand the logic:  the Packers have a ton of young talent and could use the salary cap room.  Colledge has been steady-but-not-spectacular, and perhaps we have the OL version of Desmond Bishop on the roster already.


And perhaps not.

Daryn Colledge might take his Super Bowl Ring and head off to some other ZBS team and cash in, finishing his career someplace other than the one where he's always had to prove himself.  Colledge himself said that he doesn't think the Packers want him back.

"The Packers have had a lot of years to re-sign me if they wanted to, so it looks like they might just let me go to free agency," Colledge said. "Whether that’s a business decision or a personal decision, I don’t know."

Sometimes, when you've had so much doubt in a player and hoped to upgrade them over and over again, there's a point where it is just best to part ways and give the player a shot with a clear slate.  Maybe Daryn is tired of always having to fight for his job, too.

But if the Packers are smart, you keep the guy whose proven himself again and again.  After all, why are Clifton and Wells still starting ahead of all those guys Thompson has picked to replace them?