Category Archives: Ted Thompson

2

July

What Packers Fans Should Know About Neck Injuries

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, Packer People, Packers players, Johnny Jolly, Packers character, Packers off the fieldAt this point, Packers fans are all too aware of neck/cervical injuries and the effects and repercussions of returning to play after an injury and surgery.  At this point, Ted Thompson has had likely six neck injuries and four surgeries, all with various results, some positive but mostly negative. The latest was defensive linemen Johnny Jolly, who after battling a prescription drug addiction was a surprising addition to the Packers roster last year.  News recently came out that Jolly has been cleared by his doctors to return to play and now the question is whether or not the Packers will take him up on that offer.  However, many fans don’t really know the diagnosis, treatment or outcome of neck injuries and surgeries and it’s important to really understand the injury before deciding whether or not Jolly should or could return to the Packers.  As a matter of disclosure, I am not a doctor but an immunologist, so while I do have plenty of experience in the medical field I am not qualified to present a medical opinion; below is research I have done from a variety of medical journals and other sources.

Packer players who suffered a neck injury under the Ted Thompson regime

1. Terrance Murphy: Murphy suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit by Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on a fumble recovery off of a return and was later discovered to have spinal stenosis, which ultimately ended his career.

2. Jeremy Thompson: Thompson suffered a neck injury during a practice after sustaining a collision with running back Kregg Lumpkin, who from reports suffered temporary paralysis on the field, necessitating the need for an ambulance and an overnight stay at Bellin Hospital.  Thompson subsequently also announced his retirement after the injury.  On a completely unrelated note, Thompson is now a medical student at the University of North Carolina, so the stereotype of football players being dumb jocks isn’t always true.

3. Nick Collins: Perhaps the most famous Packer to suffer a neck injury, Collins collided with Carolina running back Johnathan Stewart from above and suffered temporary paralysis. Collins spent the night at a hospital in Carolina before rejoining the team on IR.  Collins then had single fusion neck surgery to fuse the C3 and C4 vertebrae together.  Collins was subsequently released by the Packers and while he hasn’t officially retired, no team has been willing to even try him out, which indicates the severity of the injury.

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1

July

Cory’s Corner: Bucks prove that the Packers are first-rate

The Packers have an .800 winning percentage in Super Bowls, but what sets the organization apart is how up-front and honest it is.

The Packers have an .800 winning percentage in Super Bowls, but what sets the organization apart is how up-front and honest it is.

The Packers should never have a goal to be compared to the Bucks.

On Monday it was proven why.

The Milwaukee Bucks went behind its general manager’s (and head coach’s) back by bringing aboard the highly questionable Jason Kidd to coach his second season of pro ball.

That would never happen in Green Bay.

The entire fan base is split on the jobs that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy do, but what cannot be argued is that it truly is a first-class organization.

Is part of that because there isn’t an owner that’s meddling into player or coaching decisions? Perhaps.

But, even when the Packers were losing at an alarming rate in the 1970s and 1980s, a period that saw only four seasons over .500, the constant was how professional the team was.

Of course, the Packers had their fair share of coaching changes. They had five in that dry period alone. But at least the Packers had the decency to fire the coach first and then let the general manager begin the arduous task of trying to find the right fit.

And that’s why the Packers are one of the most respected NFL clubs along with the Steelers, 49ers and Giants. Green Bay knows it is fighting a losing battle against much larger cities — and many that boast warmer weather. But the one constant is how up front and transparent the Packers are.

I don’t expect the Packers to go and videotape an opponent’s practice anytime soon and I highly doubt that Lambeau will be able to generate anything close to the gobs of money that Jerry Jones makes at his AT&T Stadium.

The Packers have one of the richest traditions in all of sports and they play in a cathedral that serves as a Mecca for even non-Packers fans.

I guess it pays to do things the right way.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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28

June

Cory’s Corner: Colt Lyerla worth the risk for the Packers

We’ve officially reached the dead point of the Packers’ season.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as undrafted rookie. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as an undrafted rookie. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds in addition to a 39-inch vertical.

You won’t see oversized guys moving in fridges and TVs into St. Norbert College dorms until July 25, so this is when things start to slow down a bit.

But until that day approaches, one of the most important positions heading into next season is tight end. And with Jermichael Finley’s status still uncertain, despite his nameplate still being attached in the locker room, the that job looks to be wide open.

And the more I examine it, why can’t Oregon standout Colt Lyerla be the next sure-handed tight end target for the next generation? He’s got impressive raw ability, has a knack to get open, maintains soft hands which is helpful for tough grabs in traffic and at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has the frame that will keep on the field on running and passing downs.

Everyone knows that Lyerla left his Oregon teammates early last season and also pled guilty to cocaine. But during his two-and-a-half years in Eugene, he played for two head coaches, which isn’t exactly easy for any kid, let alone one that saw his parents divorce at age 9.

The Packers can give something that Lyerla has never had before or has never taken advantage of before: A proven, successful structure and an ear to listen. More than anything, Lyerla needs to be placed into a routine that works to give him confidence, which will earn him trust with Aaron Rodgers. And also he’s going to need to be able to find players on the team that will allow him to explain where he’s coming from, which will allow Lyerla to trust his teammates.

Lyerla has shown off his athleticism to the Packers this spring with amazing leaping catches that have even wowed some members of the defense. He’s got the ability. There’s no doubt about that, which is why he made The Play of the Week on SportsCenter in high school.

Amazingly enough, Lyerla is a lot like Finley when the Packers drafted him as a 21-year-old in 2008. Finley had plenty of physical attributes and filled up a scout’s notebook with superlatives, but he also publicly criticized one of the best Packers passers of all-time and didn’t accept his role on an offense that had lots of firepower.

26

June

Stinky Cheese: The Broken Bond Between the Packers and Fans

Something smells funny in Packer Nation.

Something smells funny in Packer Nation.

The relationship between the Green Bay Packers and their fans has been one of the most special in all of professional sports.

Instead of one deep-pocketed owner running the show, the Packers are literally owned by the fans. Each owner has stock in the team that gives them voting rights at the team’s annual shareholder meeting each summer at Lambeau Field.

The team has over 360,000 shareholders that can call tthemselves NFL owners.  Of course that many people can’t oversee the Packers’ day-to-day operations so that’s where the president and CEO, currently Mark Murphy, comes into play.

You would think that such a unique ownership structure would create the strongest bond between a team and its fans in the history of the NFL.

In the past it certainly has, but in this modern age of the NFL, the relationship between the Packers and their fans is not as harmonious as it has been even going back just one decade ago.

In fact, you could argue the Packers and their fans have a broken relationship and not everything is well in Packerland.  The team and its fans could even use some “couples therapy.”

It’s time to face the truth: the Packers don’t care about their fans as much as they used to.  The same, to be fair, could be said about the other 31 NFL franchises, but this realization will sting particularly hard for Packers fans given the ownership structure of the team.

The NFL is a money making machine.  Profit is what makes the league go round and after the lockout in 2011, the league knows fans will watch no matter what they do or change. They’re shaking their moneymaker for all it’s worth.

The same could be said for the Packers. The team’s decision making process is no longer driven by the well being of the fans but rather that of the almighty dollar.

Some of the decisions have been truly mind boggling as well.  Look at the sudden decision of the Packers to do away with Fan Fest, a multiple day gathering at the Lambeau Atrium for fans to mingle with players both past and present as well as other activities.

The team cited declining attendance as one reason for it’s demise (the 2011 event was canceled due to the lockout) but at $85 a ticket, there was a reason many people stopped showing up.

14

June

Cory’s Corner: The sooner the better in honoring Brett Favre

Time does heal all wounds.

In a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Brett Favre wasn’t short about his former employer and he didn’t make any demands about the future.

Brett Favre has proven time can heal wounds. The Packers need to speed up the process to honor one of the all-time greats.

Brett Favre has proven time can heal wounds. The Packers need to speed up the process to honor one of the all-time greats.

He was refreshingly honest.

‘Time heals a lot of things, and I think in this case, you’re playing for the rival team, things are going to change,” Favre said. “There’s no better history than there is in Green Bay – the tradition, and people love their team there, and they usually hate the other team. So when you join their opponent, that’s going to happen.”

It seems like the time spent pumping iron has cleared Favre’s mind.

Remember when Favre “retired” in the spring of 2008, things became a little sticky with him and Ted Thompson after Favre asked for an unconditional release so he could play for another team. He also was a guest on the Fox News Channel show “On The Record with Greta Van Susteren,” where he said the Packers were dishonest with him.

Obviously, no matter how you feel about Favre, he deserves to be honored by the Packers. He is the only player to win the AP MVP award three straight times and he owns eight major passing records including career passing touchdowns (508) and career passing yards (71,838).

It’s also interesting that Favre was asked about Aaron Rodgers. It has been widely reported that Favre wasn’t ready to write a how-to book on mentoring when the Packers drafted Rodgers in 2005.

“I’m no idiot, I know that there’s always someone who’s going to replace you,” said Favre. “The fact he was drafted in the first round, it was time for him to give it a shot. When I did retire, he became that guy. I understand that. I have no ill feelings or animosity towards Aaron. In fact, I thought we got along well. We watched tons of film together to help him along the way.”

If they got along so well, why didn’t Favre speak up when Rodgers’ car was getting keyed in the player’s lot? Why didn’t Favre say anything about the alarming boos that Rodgers received when he set foot on the practice field in 2008?

11

June

Offensive Linemen Musical Chairs, 2014 Edition: who stays, who goes?

Outside of special teams, nothing is more confusing, more obfuscated or more esoteric than offensive line play; We all know that Joe Thomas is supposed to be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL right now, but do you or I really know that?  I’ve never watched a game specifically focused on Thomas (which would of course require me to watch a Browns game…..so no thanks), and I suspect that even Browns fans probably haven’t really paid all that much attention to him.  The only real reason I know of Joe Thomas at all is 1) he went to Wisconsin and 2) I’ve been told he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL today.  At least with other positions, there are splash plays or statistics we can fall back on whether it be sacks, yards after the catch, Dwight Freeney’s spin move, the back shoulder catch etc.  But for offensive linemen, none of that really exists; the “pancake” has never really gotten off the ground as a established metric of offensive linemen success nor does a great block ever make the Sportscenter highlight reel.  Add on top of that there are actually 5 positions on the offensive line, and we get a confusing mess of contradictory statements; offensive linemen must all work together, but each have different jobs.  Tackles are tackles and guards are guards, except some are left tackles but not right tackles and some are right guards but not left guards.  Center is a unique position, unless it isn’t and you put a guard in there.  There is a distinct difference between “interior” linemen and “bookend” offensive linemen, unless of course you kick your tackle to play guard.

In all of that, the Packers are faced with a conundrum; there are 5 positions and traditionally 2 backup positions, making 7 offensive linemen total.  What I’ve done is made a mental excercise of some combinations of offensive linemen that are likely to happen when the Packers roster is reduced to 53.  A couple rules: I’d highly doubt the Packers carry any more since offensive linemen aren’t all that useful on special teams meaning they’d almost always be on the inactive list.  Of course the Packers have had more than 7 offensive linemen in the middle of the season due to injuries and what not, but its obviously not their first choice.  Also there needs to be a backup for both tackle and guard; supposedly there is a significance between the two but Ted Thompson probably disagrees since the vast majority of offensive linemen that have been on the Packer’s roster were college left tackles.

4

June

The Contract Conundrum of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb

The Packers are a passing team first and foremost, and Ted Thompson has taken Ron Wolf’s lamenting to heart and has always made getting weapons for his star quarterback a priority.  Whether its drafting or resigning his own, Thompson has always made a big effort to keep talent at the wide receiver position, which can’t be said for some other positions like center.  However, next season presents a unique set of challenges, namely having both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both enter free agency by the end of this season.  While the Packers do have a relatively healthy salary cap it will be quite interesting to see how Thompson and lead negotiator Russ Ball deal with both Nelson and Cobb, who while playing the same position are almost two polar opposite players.

Jordy Nelson has been consistently one of the better wide receivers in the league, ranking as high as 2nd last year according to Pro Football Focus; he’s probably best suited for the perimeter and can use his size and deceptive speed as a deep threat for Aaron Rodgers. He’s also going to be looking for a big contract after taking a below market deal as he knows this will probably be his last big contract.  Randall Cobb on the other hand is a multi-purpose weapon that does a variety of things well, he’s a prototypical slot receiver but also has great versatility and can play running back and return kicks.  Cobb’s is likely looking to capitalize on his success early after missing out on the big money due to being picked in the 2nd round and also being in the first class under the new CBA.

I think the biggest problem with wide receivers is that there are so many of them and there are a lot of ways to be a good wide receiver.  If you think about quarterbacks, there are only a couple really great quarterbacks and they all share a lot of common traits like accuracy, poise, intelligence and arm strength.  Wide receivers on the other hand come in all shapes and sizes; Calvin Johnson plays very differently from Wes Welker but both are great wide receivers in their own right.  Some are fast, some are quick, some a big and some are small.  Does it make much sense for Randall Cobb to be looking at Calvin Johnson’s contract?  Sure they play the same position, but Johnson has such a different game it’s hard to justify using that as a contract bench mark (ignoring the fact that Johnson or Suh have the most ridiculous contracts of any player on the NFL).