We learned, today, that Ryan Longwell will retire as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Players sometimes will sign a symbolic one-day contract with the team that they started with and so that they can finish up where the started. Longwell spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Packers before joining the Minnesota Vikings for his final six.
Longwell holds many Packers records that still stand today. The most notable is most points scored in Packers history, with 1,054. While Longwell’s former teammate and former Packers quarterback Brett Favre was known for his consecutive games played streak, it is Longwell who holds the record for most consecutive games with a score, at 144. Favre recently began to hint that he was getting closer to a return, of some sort, to the Packers and Longwell has decided to do the same.
While this is a “feel good” story and it’s always good to see a former standout member of the Packers return home to Green Bay, I have to wonder if the Packers feel the same way? Not because there was any real bad blood between the team and Longwell. Well, OK, there were a few interviews in support of Favre when he joined the Vikings in 2009. I have always believed that kickers should never speak to the media and after those episodes, I really believe that. And there was also the time he said that Applebee’s was “as good as it got” in Green Bay as far as restaurants, but I digress. Is there an opportunity knocking (or kicking) here?
The state of the place kicking position in Green Bay has been shaky, at best, for the past year. After a superb 2011 season, Packers kicker Mason Crosby has hit a wall, a brick wall, and can’t seem to shake what is ailing his kicking ability. He posted the lowest conversion of any kicker last season and even caused Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to take more chances on fourth down instead of trying a reasonable field goal attempt.
Finally the team brought in some competition in that of undrafted free agent Giorgio Tavecchio. But after a full offseason and a bit of preseason, it is clear that Tavecchio has some shortcomings of his own that may force the team to stick with Crosby. Or perhaps when Longwell comes in to sign his retirement contract, the Packers hand him a pair of cleats, a uniform and a helmet instead? He turns 39 later this week, but placekickers can still perform at a high level well into their 40’s. I’m just sayin. . .
While he has a strong leg, Crosby’s accuracy has been atrocious of late. It’s similar to what we saw from Tiger Woods when he returned to golf in 2010 after all of the drama surrounding his relationship with his now ex-wife. Woods is just now seeming to take his old form, three and a half years later. I have compared placekicking to golf before in that the mental aspect is extremely important. I have to believe that a case of over-thinking has completely overtaken Crosby’s brain. He’s incapable of doing the simple fundamental things that a kicker needs to do and that got him to the NFL level. I’m reminded of this memory from a not-so-classic-sequel:
While my suggestion that the Packers see if Longwell is truly ready to retire is said in jest, the more I think about it, the more it sounds like a better idea than what they’re currently doing.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: