After the NFL lockout delayed the meeting between President Barack Obama and the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers for months, the two parties met Thursday afternoon at the White House.
Obama, a known Chicago Bears fan, jokingly admitted that seeing the Packers enter his house to celebrate the championship was difficult.
Back in January, the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears, 21-14, in the NFC Championship Game. Two weeks later, the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, to win Super Bowl XLV.
In his speech, Obama also
“I guess I especially have to welcome Charles Woodson,” the President said. “Where’s Woodson? I admit Woodson’s a good ball player. And for those who don’t know, I gave Woodson a little bulletin board material apparently, last year.”
After the Packers defeated the Bears, Woodson addressed the team and declared, “If the President don’t wanna come watch us play, we’ll go see him!”
The All-Pro cornerback was referring to the invitation to the White House all major sports teams receive for winning their respective championships.
Later that week, Obama flew to Green Bay to visit a local company and was greeted by Governor Scott Walker and Green Bay Mayor James Schmidt, where he was given a jersey signed by Woodson that said, “See you at the White House.”
“And I have now learned something that every NFL quarterback knows all too well: Don’t mess with Charles Woodson,” the President joked.
Woodson then presented President Obama with a stock certificate making him an official owner of the publicly owned team. Obama then created some mild controversy when he exclaimed, “If I’m part owner, I think we should initiate a trade to send [Rodgers] down to the Bears,” potentially taking a shot at Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
In case you haven’t heard, the quarterback spot in Green Bay is locked up for the foreseeable future.
While that is great news for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers receiving corps and the coaching staff, it has created a roadblock for backup Matt Flynn.
As the three-year veteran enters the 2011 season, the final year of his rookie contract, his audition for a potential move at the end of the year will come over the next four weeks as the Packers go through their preseason schedule.
A seventh round draft choice out of LSU, where he won the National Championship in 2008, Flynn entered the league without a rocket arm, without the measurables of a franchise quarterback, and without the pinpoint accuracy of a player like Matt Ryan, who was selected third overall by the Falcons in that same draft.
However, Flynn excelled early in preseason games and was awarded the backup job to Rodgers over second round draft choice Brian Brohm, currently with the Buffalo Bills. In his rookie season, Flynn finished the preseason 27-of-42 (64.3 percent) for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
A year later he threw just eight passes in preseason, completing six for 63 yards. In 2010, Flynn turned heads again by completing 50-of-85 passes for 583 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a 304-yard performance in the finale against Kansas City.
His most impressive performance came last year in his first and only start to date, when he filled in for an injured Aaron Rodgers in New England and passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns in an eventual 31-27 loss.
The secret is now out on Flynn as a potential starting quarterback, and one executive in personnel for an NFL team even touted him as “the best backup in the NFL.”
Unfortunately for Flynn, he will not get a chance to start, barring injury to Rodgers, until at least the 2012 season.
Two years ago, Packers’ Aaron Rodgers was being booed by Packers’ fans as he stepped on to the team’s practice facility in training camp. Yet he accomplished what many believed to be an impossible feat: stepping out of Brett Favre’s shadows establishing himself as a premier NFL quarterback, passing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns.
And it was a mere six months ago that Rodgers shed the label of failing to win in the clutch, reeling off six straight win-or-go-home contests on his way to a Super Bowl XLV championship, a game in which he was awarded the MVP (and a shiny, new car).
So with the city of Green Bay backing his every move and a world championship under his belt (pun intended), Rodgers will now try attempt to accomplish the next feat in his already-stellar career: the title of league’s best quarterback.
Since New England’s Tom Brady and Peyton Manning entered the league in 1998 and 2000, respectively, they have been at the head of their classes, combining for 660 touchdowns, four Super Bowl rings and two future busts in Canton whenever they decide to walk away from the game.
But with Manning dealing with a neck injury that could force him to miss time in 2011, and Brady having just celebrated his 34th birthday, the window of opportunity for Rodgers to surpass both just opened, and there’s an excellent chance for him to do it.
The Packers added valuable prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft and re-signed wide receiver James Jones and fullback John Kuhn, but there were a handful of players the team lost last week. Here’s a look at where those players wound up, what it means for those teams and how it will affect the Packers in 2011.
Daryn Colledge: Arizona Cardinals — 5 years, $27.5 million
Why he left the Packers: A common theme with all the Packers who left via free agency is that the Packers simply could not afford them. This is certainly the case with Colledge, who leaves Green Bay after five successful seasons. The money was not there, as seen by the contract Arizona gave him, and the Packers had viable (and cheaper) replacements in Derek Sherrod, T.J. Lang, Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse.
Why he joined the Cardinals: Colledge received a big payday as an injury-free starting left guard on a Super Bowl team, replacing long-time veteran Alan Faneca, who retired at season’s end. He will start from day one, protecting new quarterback Kevin Kolb and blocking for Beanie Wells. The Cardinals are starting fresh, in a sense, with Kolb and Colledge is now a piece of that.
What it means for the Packers: Ted Thompson clearly believes in the candidates at left guard, as the money was there for the Packers to bring back Colledge. The rookie Sherrod has seen first team reps during the first week of practice, and Lang, McDonald and Newhouse should make for healthy competition.
Brandon Jackson: Cleveland Browns — 2 years, $4.5 million
The Green Bay Packers announced Wednesday that the team will make its long awaited trip to the White House on Friday, Aug. 12, just one day before they open their preseason schedule at Cleveland.
The visit to meet with the President, a tradition for all major sport champions, had been delayed due to the NFL’s lockout, which forbade coaches and players from contacting each other.
Cornerback Charles Woodson created playful controversy in a post-game address to the team after the Packers defeated the Bears 21-14 in the NFC Championship Game.
He told the team, in regards to Obama, a Chicago native and Bears fan, not traveling to Dallas to watch the team in Super Bowl XLV: “If the President don’t wanna come see us play, we’ll go see him.”
Woodson will now get that chance to go see the President, but his former teammates will not.
The Packers certainly were not the only NFC North team who made big splashes in free agency, both gaining and losing valuable pieces. Here’s a list of notable free agent signings and departure and how it will affect the Packers’ chances at winning the NFC North.
Please let me know if I missed any:
Additions: DT Stephen Paea (R), OL Gabe Carimi (R), CB Corey Graham, WR Roy Williams, WR Sam Hurd, RB Marion Barber, DE Vernon Gholston, DT Amobi Okoye, P Adam Podlesh, C Chris Spencer
Subtractions: LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, DT Tommie Harris, WR Rashied Davis, S Danieal Manning, LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, C Olin Kreutz, P Brad Maynard, TE Brandon Manumaleuna
The Bears improved in a number of areas in the 2011 offseason, but at the same time will be relying on a handful of veterans to make immediate impacts. Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi was a steal at No. 28 in the first round of the draft and will start at right tackle from day one, while former Seahawk Chris Spencer will replace veteran Olin Kreutz, who left on bad terms after the Bears low-balled him on a one-year deal. Regardless of Kreutz’s struggles in 2010, Spencer is a downgrade and will need to prove his worth (and health) if the Bears are to compete.
The Cowboys will have a head start on their offensive scouting report for the Bears if the two meet in the playoffs, as Marion Barber, Roy Williams, and Sam Hurd all join Chicago in 2011. Barber, who rushed for a career-low 374 yards (3.3 YPC), will replace Chester Taylor and act as a third down/goal line back to complement Matt Forte.
Williams, 30, re-joins offensive coordinator Mike Martz, where he enjoyed his best seasons as a pro in Detroit. He hasn’t topped 40 catches in any of the last four seasons but the Bears got him cheap and are hoping an increased role in the offense turns his career around.
Bringing back Corey Graham will help depth in the secondary and Podlesh, who punted in Jacksonville the last four years, ranked 15th in punting average a year ago. Maynard was a fan favorite but had run his course in Chicago, finishing last in the NFL with a 40.1 average in 2010.
The Bears still have major concerns on their offensive line, specifically left tackle J’Marcus Webb, but Carimi will help. Harris is the only major contributor to leave an already impressive Chicago defense, and second round pick Stephen Paea will impress in his rookie campaign.
The date was October 5, 2009.
Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre’s first game against his former team, the Green Bay Packers, had been overshadowed by the five turnstiles in front of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers allowed eight sacks after left tackle Chad Clifton left with an ankle injury. Daryn Colledge and T.J. Lang unsuccessfully attempted to stop defensive end Jared Allen, who finished with 4.5 sacks, and three other defenders recorded sacks in the 30-23 loss.
Fast forward 22 months, to 2011 Packers training camp, and the Packers can actually say their offensive line is a strong suit on their already high-powered offense.
Mainstays left tackle Chad Clifton, center Scott Wells, and right guard Josh Sitton have proved their worth and are locked into starting roles entering the season. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who took over for Mark Tauscher midway through last season, seems to be locked into his position as well.
Rejoice, members of the anti-Justin Harrell fan club.
The defensive lineman’s era in Green Bay is finally over.
The Packers announced two roster moves Thursday afternoon, releasing veteran linebacker Brady Poppinga and the oft-injured defensive lineman Justin Harrell. The moves will save the Packers around $3 million in cap space, just one day after parting ways with inside linebacker Nick Barnett.
Harrell was plagued by injuries in each of his four years in Green Bay, limiting him to just 14 of a possible 64 games in which he totaled just 27 tackles. General manager Ted Thompson drafted the defensive tackle out of Tennessee in 2007, yet his stock had been dropping on many team’s draft boards due to a torn bicep muscle. Many questioned Thompson reaching on an injury-prone player who did not fill a need, but the defensive tackle showed signs of progress in the seven games he played in his rookie year.
That offseason the injuries began to rack up, as a back injury forced Harrell to the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and he appeared in just one game before being sent to injured reserve. In 2009, another back injury forced him to miss the entire 2009 season, and after a promising preseason in 2010, the injury bug struck again as Harrell tore his ACL in Week 1 in Philadelphia.
Many NFL teams were busy agreeing to free agent deals and dealing players, but (surprise, surprise) it was the Packers who stayed put on the second day of free agency. While teams are not allowed to officially sign free agents until Friday, left guard Daryn Colledge, offensive lineman Jason Spitz and running back Brandon Jackson all agreed to deals that will end their tenures in Green Bay. Here’s how it will affect the team in 2011:
Colledge signs with Cardinals
There will be a new starting left guard for the Packers when they take the field for the first time in August after Daryn Colledge agreed to terms with the Arizona Cardinals. The deal is worth a reported $29.5 million over five years, with $10 million of the that money guaranteed. A five year veteran in Green Bay, Colledge started 76 of 80 games after being drafted in the second round out of Boise State in 2006. It would have been virtually impossible for the Packers to match that contract, so instead they will look elsewhere at left guard.
Early candidates for the starting gig, assuming the Packers do not address it in free agency, are T.J. Lang and Nick McDonald. Lang, a fourth round pick in 2009, has been on the cusp of making the jump to a starter’s role and will now get his first real chance. McDonald hung on as an undrafted rookie in 2010, and it should make for a healthy competition in August. Marshall Newhouse, a fourth round draft pick a year ago, is a darkhorse candidate.
Spitz signs with Jacksonville
Right. Through. His hands.
Chances are if you are a Packers fan and were watching Super Bowl XLV this past February, you uttered those exact words (or something like it) when wide receiver James Jones dropped what would have been a 75-yard touchdown to put Green Bay up 28-10 early in the third quarter.
That phrase may have been a repeat (potentially with added expletives) of what you said when Jones, now a free agent, dropped another would-be touchdown in the Wildcard game against the Eagles. Or his fumble against the Bears in Week 3 that cost the Packers a chance at completing a fourth quarter comeback.
It’s true. Jones has provided more than his fair share of, “What?!” moments in his four seasons with Green Bay, and many would have no problem to see him join another franchise. But are we selling No. 89 short? Will the Packers miss him more than fans think if ultimately he decides to leave Green Bay?
Aaron Rodgers thinks so.
Inside linebacker Nick Barnett was the first salary cap casualty of 2010 for the Packers, as he indicated Tuesday afternoon on his Twitter account that his days in Green Bay were over.
“Just met with Ted [Thompson],” Barnett tweeted. “Thanks for the great 8 years. Very blessed 2 be apart of such a great tradition and great fans. Happy I was able to be here for the great [Super Bowl] XLV run…I will always keep a special place in my heart for this team and city.”
Later he tweeted, “I look forward to the next jungle Mufasa will roam… let’s get it.”
According to ESPN’s Andrew Brandt, the Packers first will attempt to trade the veteran linebacker and, if that fails, will release him.
Thompson’s decision to release the eight-year veteran should come as no surprise, given Barnett’s hefty contract and the team’s current situation at inside linebacker.
Set to make $5.5 million and a $400,000 roster bonus, trading or releasing Barnett will save the team $4 million in 2011. Season-ending injuries in two of the past three seasons and age (30) made justifying Barnett’s roster spot difficult, especially considering he would have returned in a back-up role.
The Packers have broke the bank to shore up their inside linebackers, extending Desmond Bishop to a four-year, $19 million contract in January and then signing A.J. Hawk, a day after they released him, to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract.
In the wake of labor disputes and the reality that part of the 2011 NFL season may be lost, NFL.com has polled current players to rank the top 100 players in the league.
Left tackle Chad Clifton was the first member of the Packers to appear on the list, followed closely by safety Nick Collins at No. 96.
A starter since day one, Collins has more than lived up to his potential as a second round draft pick in 2005. After intercepting four passes his first three seasons, missing just three total games (all in 2007, knee), Collins broke out in 2008 when he intercepted seven passes, returning three for touchdowns.
He also set a Packers’ single season record with 295 return yards on those interceptions, breaking Bobby Dillon’s mark of 244 yards set in 1956. 2008 also marked the first of three straight Pro Bowl selections for the Packers’ safety.
A year later, Collins picked up right where he left off, intercepting six passes and recovering two fumbles. He also wound up starting in the Pro Bowl because former Packer and then-safety for the Saints Darren Sharper was playing in the Super Bowl.
Collins was instrumental to the Packers’ league-leading defense in 2010, as he intercepted four passes and finished with 70 tackles. His biggest play of the season, however, came in Super Bowl XLV when he intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and zig-zagged his way 37 yards into the end zone to give the Packers’ a comfortable 14-0 lead. He finished the Super Bowl with four tackles and a pass defended.
No one knows if there will be an NFL next season, but that didn’t stop the league from announcing the preseason schedule for the (potential) upcoming season.
For the third straight season the Packers will open the season against the Cleveland Browns, this time in Cleveland. In 2009 the Packers won 17-0 in Lambeau Field while last season the Browns came out victorious, 27-24 in the opener. The date and time for the game have not yet been decided, but it will take place sometime between Aug. 11 and 15.
Lambeau Field will officially open for the Super Bowl Champions when the Packers host the Arizona Cardinals. Date and time have not been decided, but will be played between Aug. 18 and 22.
With so many talented players in each league, it is a foregone conclusion that stars will be left off the Pro Bowl roster every year. After all, only three or four players from 16 teams can be selected for each position, meaning more than a handful of players inevitably will be “snubbed.”
Most times arguments can be made for and against players making or making the team, and the discussion in Green Bay is no different.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted a fantastic season in 2010 and have the Packers one home win against the Chicago Bears away from sealing up the No. 6 seed in the NFC. However, his season was only good enough in the eyes of the voters to warrant a first alternate selection for the Pro Bowl, meaning his name will only be called if someone at his position drops out or is playing in the Super Bowl.
In Rodgers’ case, his slow start and absence in two games down the stretch probably hurt him the most. Touted by many as ready to take the jump from great to elite, Rodgers’ numbers through eight weeks looked more like the former. With the team sitting at 5-3, Rodgers had passed for 12 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and an average of 251 yards per game.
Entering week 13, the Green Bay Packers have plenty of confidence but are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. At 7-4, they sit a game behind the first place Chicago Bears in the NFC North and will look to improve when they host the Frank Gore-less San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Here are some notes on the Packers entering the final quarter of the 2010 regular season.
Tramon Williams Signs Extension Through 2014
Hard work pays off. The Packers and cornerback Tramon Williams signed a four-year extension this past week worth $33.074 million through 2014, making him the fourth highest paid player on the team (behind Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, and Greg Jennings). After joining the practice squad in November 2006, he played behind Charles Woodson and Al Harris for two and a half seasons before entering the starting lineup midway through the 2009 season.
Known as one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league, as shown by his five interceptions in 2008, Williams didn’t skip a beat taking over for Harris, who was put on injured reserve after tearing his ACL. He finished 2009 with four interceptions and has equaled that total just 11 games in this season.
Sam Shields has eased some of the nerve regarding the future of the cornerbacks in Green Bay, but locking up Williams through 2014 gives the Packers an elite cornerback for the future. He hasn’t received the recognition worthy of his performance in 2010, but he finally got the paycheck he deserved.
Ted Thompson stuck to his guns and rewarded his own players for their performances, locking down the most important free agent the Packers had entering this off-season. Williams was quiet in the media about his contract and will now rank as the twelfth highest paid cornerback in the league. Chalk this one up as a steal for the Packers and a great story about an undrafted free agent making it big in the NFL.
Chillar, Havner put on IR; Francois, Gordy promoted