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.
Have the Packers found their answer at punt returner?
It sure looks that way after they reportedly agreed to terms with undrafted free agent Antoine “Shaky” Smithson, a wide receiver from Utah, on the first official night of free agency.
While Smithson will not be able to sign with the team until tomorrow morning, Smithson indicated on his Twitter account that he indeed would sign on with the World Champions.
There was no one better in college football at returning punts in 2010, as Smithson averaged 19.1 yards per return (572 yards) and scored twice. He was named a Walter Camp first team All-American punt returner for his record-breaking season, while also starting four games at wide receiver for the Utes.
He ended the season with 25 catches for 383 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver, but Smithson is going to make his living as a punt returner, if anything.
The Green Bay Packers’ championship run was overshadowed by the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday Night at the 17th annual ESPY Awards. Nominated for five awards, only Aaron Rodgers took home any hardware, being voted by fans as the NFL’s best player. Here’s a look at the Packers’ nominations and how each category was voted. Winners are bolded.
Nominees: Dallas Mavericks, Texas A&M (women’s college basketball), Boston Bruins, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco Giants, Auburn Tigers (college football)
Why: The Dallas Mavericks stole the show at this year’s ESPY awards, culminating in their award for best team. While the Packers put together an excellent run in the 2010 NFL Playoffs, it’s hard to argue with this selection. The Mavericks lost just five games in four series, including a second round sweep of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Helping their cause with the fan voting was their six-game NBA Finals victory over LeBron James and the Miami Heat. One could argue that the Packers defeating the top three teams in the conference, all on the road, was more impressive, but the timing of the ESPY awards certainly helped. The Mavs playoff run was clearly fresh in the minds of the voters.
Best NFL Player
Nominees: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Troy Polamalu, Tom Brady, Arian Foster
Why: This was Rodgers’ award to lose, and he took home the trophy after a spectacular 2010. Rodgers threw 28 touchdowns in the regular season and ended his season as the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, a game which the Packers won 31-25. It would have been tough for Matthews to win the award over Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, and Brady had the numbers but failed to win a playoff game, and leading rusher Arian Foster stole the hearts of fantasy owners, but it wasn’t enough for him to win this award.
The Green Bay Packers will be well-represented when the 19th annual ESPY Awards ceremony airs on ESPN on Wednesday, July 13 at 8:00pm CT.
After defeating the top three NFC seeds in the playoffs and then taking down the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, in Super Bowl XLV, the Packers were nominated as the NFL representative for “Best Team.” They will go up against the Dallas Mavericks, Auburn Tigers (football), Connecticut Huskies (men’s basketball), Boston Bruins, San Francisco Giants and Texas A&M Aggies (women’s basketball). NFL teams have taken home this award in three of the past five seasons.
Aaron Rodgers’ impressive jump to superstar earned him two nominations. The first, “Best NFL Player”, was a no-brainer. During the 2010 regular season, the Packers’ signal caller threw 28 touchdown passes, just 11 interceptions and 3,922 passing yards. He also completed 65.7 percent of his passes and ran for 356 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
A year ago, the Green Bay Packers were ranked by ESPN as the ninth best franchise in professional sports.
One year and a Super Bowl championship later, the franchise heads the list.
ESPN the Magazine released its ninth annual Ultimate Standings, which “measure[s] how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them.”
With that criteria in hand, it came as no surprise that the Packers took the top spot. The rankings are based on eight different major categories, each weighted differently, and averaged out into one number. Here they are and analysis of how the Packers fared in each.
1. Bang for the Buck (24.3%) — Packers ranked 4th: The biggest category, which measures “wins during the past three years per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules,” was big for the Packers. Since a 6-10 2008 season, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have given fans a 25-12 record and, oh yeah, that Super Bowl championship in 2010.
2. Players (16.6%) — Packers ranked 5th: When Ted Thompson took over as general manager, he said he would only bring in players labeled as “Packer people.” Such has been the case, as players like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji have all stayed out of trouble while working hard on the field. Outside of Johnny Jolly, whose tenure in Green Bay is all but over, the Packers have had a squeaky clean track record, and their performance on the field speaks for itself.
3. Fan Relations (16.5%) — Packers ranked 10th:
The Green Bay Packers received their Super Bowl rings Thursday night during a private ceremony held at Lambeau Field. Despite the current lockout generally forbidding staff and players from having contact, the team was given special permission from the NFL to hold the event. While there are still uncertainties about the upcoming season, this night was all about reliving the memorable 2010 season, culminating in a world championship.
The Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 on Feb. 6 to win Super Bowl XLV, highlighted by 304 passing yards and two touchdowns from MVP Aaron Rodgers and a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown from safety Nick Collins. That next Tuesday the team held a “Return to Titletown” celebration in Lambeau Field, but that marked the last time the team and staff all had been together, prior to Thursday night.
Here are the details of the Super Bowl ring, per a press release from the Packers:
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.
Sneaking on the bottom of the list at No. 99 was Packers’ left tackle Chad Clifton, one spot ahead of Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The recognition came after a fantastic bounce-back season from the 11-year veteran, who was called for just one holding penalty and was in charge of Aaron Rodgers’ blind side during the Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV.
It was quite the accomplishment for Clifton, who many believed was a thing of the past after the Packers selected offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga with their first round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Following a sub-par, injury-filled 2009, Bulaga was expected to challenge Clifton for the left tackle starting gig. Clifton eventually won the job, with Bulaga moving to right tackle.
There were plenty of surprises in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but everything was calm in Green Bay as the Packers selected offensive tackle Derek Sherrod with the final selection in the first round.
Sherrod started all 25 games the last two seasons at left tackle for the Bulldogs and his massive size had the Packers excited as to what he could do on the offensive line. His 35 3/8-inch arms and 11-inch hands were some of the biggest in the draft, and his 6-foot, 5-inch, 321-frame gives him prototypical size at left tackle.
The Packers obviously have not decided on whether or not Sherrod will play left or right tackle at the next level, but the pick gives Green Bay flexibility on the offensive line to mix and match the Sherrod and Bulaga at the tackle position.
Here is a scouting report on Sherrod, via ESPN.com insider and Scouts, Inc:
Here is version 3.0 of my 2011 NFL mock draft for the Green Bay Packers. This mock will be different from the first two in that it will include wildcard picks. Ted Thompson has surprised Packers’ fans on more than one occasion and with so much talent on the current roster, the Packers can be flexible with their picks in 2011.
Version 1.0 can be found here.
Version 2.0 can be found here.
Round 1, Pick No. 32: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland: The Packers have no glaring needs they must fill immediately, but they might be closest to needing a solid return man. Smith would do the trick. A combination of Tramon Williams, Jordy Nelson, James Starks and Sam Shields shared duties, but Smith would give the Packers a legitimate threat. He set the ACC record for kick return yards and has good size as a wideout. The Packers do not have a true speedster at wideout and with James Jones’ status in the air and Donald Driver aging, the slot could be a position of need in the near future.
Round 2, Pick No. 64: Sam Acho, OLB, Texas: This draft class has its fair share of top tier pass rushers, and while Acho isn’t one of them, he would still be a nice fit at outside linebacker. He’s a bit bulkier than a normal outside linebacker at 257 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped Acho. What he lacks in pass rushing he makes up for against the run, which is something the Packers struggled with in 2010.
Round 3, Pick No. 96:
Picking 32nd in the NFL draft is usually a good sign for your franchise, winning the Super Bowl and all, but it won’t do much help in the draft itself. Ted Thompson and the rest of the personnel in the war room will have their work cut out for them in the first round (assuming they keep the pick) and will see 31 players come off the board.
The Packers will have three options Thursday night to decide what to do with their first round selection. Here are the upsides and downsides to each option.
Keeping the pick: Staying in the first round has its obvious advantages: the top players in the class are available. This year’s crop of players set up nicely for the Packers to fill a potential need at offensive tackle, defensive end or outside linebacker, so there’s clearly upside. Last year’s 32nd pick, New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson, was signed to a five-year deal worth $12.25 million, so money isn’t an issue, especially if the Packers think they have a steal. Options include, but are clearly not limited to, DE Cameron Heyward, OLB Brooks Reed, OLB Justin Houston, LT Derek Sherrod, and OG Danny Watkins.
Trade the pick, move up:
NFL schedules for the 2011 season were announced today, and the Super Bowl-champion Packers were awarded with four primetime games, including games on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Here’s a look at how the Packers’ 2011 schedule breaks down.
Week 1: Packers vs. Saints — The Super Bowl champions usually open up the NFL season each year, and this year is no different. This should be a game full of offense and scoring, with plenty of adrenaline going for both teams. The Saints underachieved last season, falling to the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round while trying to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Expect a tough game, but it’s hard to see the Packers losing on Opening Night at home. Prediction: Win
Week 2: Packers at Panthers — The Packers will open the road portion of their schedule in Carolina, where there is a good chance they will face quarterback Cam Newton, who is expected to be taken first overall by the Panthers. Just 2-14 last season, the Panthers have a lot of rebuilding to do and probably will not get it done between now and Week 2. Prediction: Win
Week 3: Packers at Bears — In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Bears will surely be seeking revenge after the Packers celebrated their trip to the Super Bowl on their own turf. After the Bears’ rise to success the NFL’s oldest rivalry is back in full swing, and this should be a game that is decided late in the fourth quarter. It’s nice that the Packers travel to Soldier Field early in the season, when weather will not have an effect on the game. Prediction: Loss
Week 4: Packers vs. Broncos: — Aaron Rodgers and the Packers should have a field day in their second home game of the season, facing a Broncos defense that ranked dead last in all of football a year ago. Kyle Orton should still be the starter this early in the season, but this author admittedly is hoping to see Tim Tebow under center. Either way, the Packers should cruise. Prediction: Win
Week 5: Packers at Falcons — After a heartbreaking overtime loss in the regular season, the Packers extracted their revenge with a 48-21 thrashing of the Falcons in the NFC divisional round. It’s always tough to beat Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome, but the Packers had a few miscues in their regular season loss that may have changed the outcome of the game. Prediction: Loss
Week 6: Packers vs. Rams — The Packers will face another young quarterback, Sam Bradford, in Week 6, and they should move to 3-0 at home. The Rams missed the playoffs last season after falling to the Seahawks in the final game of the regular season. They are targeting a wide receiver early in the draft that could give Bradford some power on offense. Prediction: Win
Week 7: Packers at Vikings — The Packers’ second primetime game of the year, their only Monday night game of the year, will pin them against the Brett Favre-less Vikings (for now). Minnesota is still searching for answers at quarterback and have interest in Donovan McNabb, but the Packers should shut down the Minnesota defense, regardless of who is at quarterback. That being said, never underestimate rivalry games on national television. Prediction: Win
Week 8: Bye week — Fantasy owners, take note.
Week 9: Packers at Chargers — This could be the Packers’ toughest game on the schedule, so it’s great that it’s coming off a bye week. The Packers have had success in San Diego, most recently a 31-24 comeback win in 2007. The matchup between Rodgers and Phillip Rivers should be a fun one to watch. The Packers will have to bring their best stuff if they want a chance to win this one. Prediction: Win
Week 10: Packers vs. Vikings — The Packers had to hang on to beat the Vikings at home last year, 28-24, and this one should come down to the wire as well. With no Brett Favre leading the way, the Packers’ defense will need to bring the heat while Rodgers attempts to keep up his recent success against their rivals to the North. Prediction: Win
Week 11: Packers vs. Buccaneers — The biggest surprise in the NFL last year, the Buccaneers are back on the national stage. A young core is headed by quarterback Josh Freeman and suddenly this game looks a lot more difficult than it did last season. No one can forget the Packers’ brutal loss in Tampa Bay two years ago to the then-winless Bucs, so hopefully 2011 is kinder. Prediction: Loss
Week 12: Packers at Lions — The Packers will play on Thanksgiving Day this season against an up-and-coming Lions’ team looking for an upset. Detroit always plays well on Turkey Day and this year should be no different. Rodgers was knocked out of last year’s 7-3 loss and will be looking for a little revenge. Prediction: Win
Week 13: Packers at Giants — Green Bay ruined the Giants’ playoff chances a year ago with a huge 45-10 win in Lambeau Field a year ago, so expect New York ready to go this time around. The weather should be chilly but the Packers have to hope they have the same luck in the New Meadowlands Stadium they did a year ago, when they shut out the Jets 9-0. Prediction: Win
Week 14: Packers vs. Raiders — Oakland will leave sunny California for what is sure to be a snowy Lambeau Field in this one, but no weather conditions should change the outcome of this one. Rodgers and the Packers have been excellent at home in December (6-1) and 2011 should be no different. Prediction: Win
Week 15: Packers at Chiefs — Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places in the NFL to get a win, but the Packers will give it a shot when they head to Kansas City in Week 15. The Chiefs underperformed last season but have a young defense and are only going to get better under Todd Haley. Expect this one to be a defensive dogfight. Prediction: Win
Week 16: Packers vs. Bears — Merry Christmas! The Bears will travel to Lambeau Field on Christmas night for what is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Both teams should be in contention late in the season, and there’s a chance this game could decide the NFC North. The Bears will also be looking for a win after last year’s loss in Lambeau allowed the Packers into the playoffs and, well, we all know the rest. Prediction: Win
Week 17: Packers vs. Lions — The Packers finish the season with three of their last four games at home, and if history is any indicator they should be fine. The Packers closed the year with the Lions in 2007 and 2008, and won both handily. Then again, let’s hope the Packers have nothing to play for at this point and are resting starters for another long playoff run. Prediction: Win
Predicted record: 13-3
The Packers toughest stretch of the year happens early. Three of the first five opponents are vs. New Orleans, at Chicago, and at Atlanta, so the Packers will need to come out of the gates hot.
The easiest stretch of the season comes at the end of the season. The last quarter of the season includes vs. Oakland, at Kansas City, and vs. Detroit. If the Packers can give themselves room before this stretch they should be golden to finish the year.
For dates and times of each game, click here.
For comments from Mike McCarthy, click here.
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews followed up his stellar rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season, racking up 13.5 sacks and 60 tackles and finishing second in the AP Defensive Player of the Year voting. Making his production even more impressive was that, opposite Matthews, four players saw significant time due to injuries.
Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, Erik Walden and Brady Poppinga all saw time at right outside linebacker, with Jones and Poppinga being lost to season-ending injuries. There’s no question the Packers have plenty of depth at outside linebacker and, as is the case at a couple positions, there will be some tough decisions when Ted Thompson has to cut the roster to 53 players.
Zombo, an undrafted rookie free agent in 2010, is probably the best of the bunch with the brightest future, while Walden performed admirably after being signed in late October. Jones, a seventh round choice two seasons ago, has potential as well but projects as a back-up. Poppinga may make the roster as depth and a good special teams body, but that remains to be seen.
The NFL offseason is here and, while there still isn’t a new CBA resolution, the draft will go on regardless. The Packers have multiple needs despite being Super Bowl champions, which we will look at later, but for now here’s a quick mock draft for the Packers’ 2011 draft.
1. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA, 6-3, 254 pounds: Ted Thompson usually goes with the best player available in round 1, so it helps that this is also the Packers’ biggest need. Ayers does a little bit of everything with a very athletic frame. He’s great against the run, can drop back into coverage, and would be an excellent speed rusher opposite Clay Matthews.
2. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah, 6-0, 195 pounds: The Packers proved they had depth when Charles Woodson and Sam Shields went down with injuries in Super Bowl XLV, but it’s still a position of need with Woodson’s age and Pat Lee’s/Brandon Underwood’s future in doubt. Burton has great size (which Thompson loves) and plays the run as good as any cornerback in the draft. He would work as the Pack’s dime back until Woodson hangs them up, or moves to safety.
3. Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh, 6-3, 309 pounds:
When Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers came out of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions late in the second quarter, everyone knew the offense would take a hit.
But that big of a hit?
In one of the more boring games of 2010 to date, infected by stagnant offenses run by back-up quarterbacks, the Packers failed to recover from the absence of Rodgers, who left with a concussion, and fell to the Lions 9-3, moving them that much further back in the playoff race.
Quarterback Matt Flynn, who had not thrown a meaningful pass since he took over for Rodgers in Week 4 of his rookie season two years ago, failed to move the ball on offense and finished with a disguising 258 yards of offense. Turnovers and, once again, lack of a ground game killed the offense and limited them to just three points, a far cry from the 25.3 points per game they were averaging coming in.
Flynn actually performed well considering he had no preparation for the game in terms of timing with the first team offense and he actually threw a couple nice balls to convert a couple of third downs, but his inexperience was evident with his lack of pocket presence, miscommunication on a crucial third down, and a terrible interception in the Lions’ endzone that took sure points off the board.
He finished with 177 yards on 15-of-26 pass attempts and also ran for 10 yards, but no one could have expected him to take the Packers on his back and lead them to victory.
Because the rest of the Packers’ offense decided to take the day off.
Even before Rodgers went out with his concussion, the offense was downright awful. Andrew Quarless fumbled inside Lions’ territory on a basic tackle, and Greg Jennings dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass which ended up being an interception for Detroit. Luckily the Lions failed to convert either turnovers into points, thanks to a fantastic performance from the defense, but the play from the Packers’ receivers early was sloppy, at best.
In every sense of the word, the Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV was a microcosm of how the season had played out up until that point.
When Packers’ fans saw wide receiver Donald Driver and cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields exit the game in the second quarter, it was as if they didn’t blink an eye.
OK, maybe one blink.
But the truth was fans had been there and done that with injuries. Over the course of the regular season head coach Mike McCarthy had lost 15 players to Injured Reserve, including starters Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Nick Barnett, and rookie Morgan Burnett.
Packers’ starters lost 83 games to injuries, and that doesn’t even include players like Brandon Chillar and Justin Harrell, who weren’t starters but important nonetheless. That number also doesn’t include Al Harris and Atari Bigby, who began the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
The Packers struggled to begin the season, going 3-3 and not knowing who would fill roles left by the injury bug. But just like they did Sunday, lesser-known players stepped up in huge roles and it culminated with the Lombardi Trophy coming home.