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Archive for June 2009

Ted Thompson: “There is always an evolution of a team”

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What is a general manager to do when 15 player’s contracts are expiring at the end of the 2009 season and seven of them are starters? Out of those 15 free agents three have been to the Pro Bowl and another one is one of the most electrifying punt returners in the NFL. That is the issue Packers G.M. and VP of Player Personnel Ted Thompson has to deal with throughout this season and into next off season. And he thought the “Favre Saga” was a pain in the rear end.

When asked about the issue, Thompson said “there is always an evolution of a team. At different points in peoples careers things happen. And we’re trying to take care of our business the best we can.” Thompson added “Each year your team matures, and we have a larger number of young guys that are getting ready for the next phase of their careers, and that’s something that’s our job to deal with.”

The 15 players that have expiring contracts on the Packers are Linebackers Aaron Kampman, Brandon Chillar, Safeties Nick Collins and Atari Bigby, Cornerbacks Will Blackmon and Tramon Williams, Offensive Linemen Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Chad Clifton, Tony Moll, Defensive Linemen Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, Wide Receiver Ruvell Martin, Tight End Tory Humphrey and Fullback John Kuhn. 

A good example of that is the way Packers wide receiver Greg  Jennings and Packers safety Nick Collins have handled their contract situations with Thompson.

Jennings , who has been highly productive on the field and an even better person off of it, kept his negotiations private and said publicly that the Packers would do the right thing and he would not hold out. And on June 23rd Jennings got his big pay day when he signed a three year deal with $27 million dollars in “new money” and $16.25 in guaranteed money. Collins on the other hand made his first Pro Bowl last year after tying for the NFC lead with 7 interceptions and finally showing the play making skills that made him the Packers second round pick in 2005 (the 51st overall selection). Collins has taken the opposite stance as Jennings by saying he would not rule out a hold out in order to get a new contract. Talks are currently on going and the hope is he will be in camp when it starts next month.   

This will also be a key year for Aaron Kampman, who not only is in the final year of his deal, but also playing a new position, outside linebacker since the Packers switched their defense to a 3-4. Kampman has 37.5 sacks in the last three seasons and has been a leader on and off the field. He is the “key” to the Packers new defense because of his ability to rush the passer and how quick his transition to OLB may determine how much he gets paid. I don’t see the Packers letting him go.

Daryn Colledge is a different story. He was the Packers most consistent linemen last year and according to my friends at packerupdate.com is the Packers number two priority this off season (behind Jennings ).  Jason Spitz will take over at center for Scott Wells and also will get his pay day, but the same can not be said for long time Packers tackle Chad Clifton. Clifton is on the down side of his career and injury and age have caught up with him. I was told the Packers would bring him back for a reduced price tag, some where around six million dollars for two years. The question is would he except that pay cut, my guess is no.

Atari Bigby, Will Blackmon and Tramon Williams are all in the same boat to me. All three have showed flashes but were either injured, in Bigby and Blackmon’s case, or had veterans playing in front of him as was the case with Williams. All of these reasons has kept them off the field. Williams will get the most money of the three because the Packers look at him a future starter. Bigby needs to show the Packers he can remain healthy and cover while Blackmon also needs to stay on the field, not just because of injury, but coverage ability as well.

Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly are interesting scenarios because of age (Pickett) and legal issues (Jolly). Pickett, who will be 30 this year, has been everything the Packers wanted and more since they signed him away from the Rams four years ago. The new defense, along with first round pick B.J. Raji, will make Pickett an even bigger force in the middle of the defensive line. Jolly, who is facing a four game suspension for possessing over 200 grams of codeine and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, is in a position to take a little less from the Packers because of his legal issues. I suspect both will be back.

I would say Clifton , Scott Wells, John Kuhn, Humphrey, Martin and possibly Bigby are the players that are in their last days as a Packer with Thompson resigning the rest.  

Ted Thompson has the Packers in a position of strength with their salary cap situation. He is a GM that plans ahead, and one has to think he knew this day would come. I dare to say that this is a position most GM’s would want to be in, having to resign the young talent they have amassed by shrewd drafting and free agent moves. Thompson’s job is to bring the Lombardi Trophy back home to Green Bay, and he is building this team for that exact goal as well as be competitive for a long there after. He has the money to do so, now it’s time to go to work.

Please feel free to check out my latest blogs:

Steroid Era In Baseball

Today Sports takes A back Seat

2009 NBA Mock Draft

Greg Jennings New Deal

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Written by Joe Arrigo

June 30, 2009 at 22:44

Posted in NFL

The Steroid Era, I Mean Issue In MLB

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Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Rafael Palmeiro, Mo Vaughn, Eric Gagne, Juan Gonzalez, Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza, Kevin Brown, Jose Canseco and Alex Rodriguez. These players either admitted to using performance enhancing drugs, or “P.E.D’s”,  were suspended by Major League Baseball for “P.E.D.” use or were implicated in “The Mitchell Report“. They are a who’s who of baseball’s biggest names and they all have been tied to “P.E.D.’s”. There are many more names that have not been released for reasons that are both selfish and legal, but one thing is certain, “P.E.D.’s” were a huge problem for baseball and also a huge money maker. 

In the start of the 1990’s baseball was thriving on and off the field. MLB had signed a huge televisiondeal with ESPN and baseball was on 4 nights a week, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday nights as well as Saturday afternoon on NBC (and later FOX). Business was booming off the field as well as on it. The “Bash Brothers” were in Oakland dominating, Pittsburgh was the class of the NL East with Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke leading the way, Atlanta had become an up and coming team thanks to John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery and Toronto was a team that had arguably the best overall talent in baseball. The only thing missing was the Yankees being a dynasty and a home run chase.

Then, in 1994, things changed. The collective bargainingagreement had expired and the players went on strike after union chief Donald Fehr rejected the owners “final offer” on a new C.B.A. There was no baseball for 232 days, including no World Series. There were 931-948 cancelled games (these numbers also account for the fact that postseason series can be of varying lengths, in addition, 12 other games scheduled to be played prior to August 12, 1994 were canceled for other reasons, mainly weather-related). It was the first time since 1904 that a World Series was cancelled and baseball became the first pro sport to lose its entire postseason due to a labor dispute.

Baseball returned in March of 1995,  but the fans did not. They felt hurt, scorned and angry that greed got in the way of “the national past time”. Stadiums that were normally filled to capacity were now half, and in some cases only a quarter filled. Fans made signs that condemned both owners and players a like for their role in the strike. No one in baseball had seen this coming, after all it had survived wars, racism and gambling  scandals. Owners didn’t know what to do. Then in 1998, after two years of fan backlash, two players put baseball on their back for a season to remember chasing Roger Marises single season home run mark and but baseball back in fans hearts for all the right reasons, so we thought.

Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa took sports fans on a whirl wind journey in the summer of 1998 as they both took aim at former Yankee great Roger Maris and his single season home run record of 61. The chase was memorable for many different reason including ther Cubs and Sosa trying and McGwire’s Cardinals both trying to reach the post season in the same division against each other. But even more memorable was the bond that the two men shared, and seem to relish, during the chase. They liked and openly rooted for each otherto break the record and on September 8th McGwire hit #62 off the Cubs Steve Trachsel as Sosa watched from right field. The two embraced at home plate as a celebration  soon there there followed. It was a celebration not only for McGwire and Sosa, both fan favorites, but for baseball and it’s journey back into America’s hearts.

All seemed well with baseball for the next few years then Barry Bonds, who seemed to have noticebly a lot bigger, step to the plate. 

It was 2001 and the whispers about steroids and not just Bonds, but McGwire and other players had started to get louder and louder. Bonds was hitting at a torid pace. In the first 50 games he hit 28 home runs and had 39 by the All Star break. That season he led the majors in base on balls, with major league record 177 walks, and had a .515 on-base average, a feat not seen since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams over forty years earlier. He was poised and determined to break McGwire’s single season record of 70 home runs set in the magical 1998 season and Bonds did by hitting 73 home runs that season.     

Bud Selig was now the commissioner of baseball and was starting to get pressure from the the media and U.S. Congress to test for steroids. Jose Canseco had written a book alleging that McGwire and others used steroids and had said over 85% of MLBplayers used “P.E.D.’s”. Selig along with current and former MLB players and Fehrwent before congress and were asked “tough” questions about steroids in baseball. On this day, march 17, 2005, the lives, careers and legacy’s of McGwire, Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and the game of baseball was changed for ever.

Baseball has many different era’s to it’s long and rich history. They are the 19th century era, the dead ball era, lively ball era, expansion era, free agency era, the long ball era and now the steroid era. Baseball loves to embrace it’s past. The players, teams, moments, records and even the era’s itself. In the history of baseball there have been many black eyes in the sport, most notably the exclusion of African American players, but yet baseball has done things to persavere  and make the wrong right. Why now is baseball trying to run away from the “P.E.D.” issue and hide the names of the guilty and the cheaters hoping fans forget about it or just let it go? 

If baseball. the players union and Bud Selig want to move on and put this shameful era to rest, then release the names of the other 103 players that tested positive for banned substances so no more names can be leaked and have fans and players relive this painful era. The owners, MLBPA and even Bud Selig are just as guilty as the players who cheated. Owners and MLBPA reaped the benefits financially form the cheaters. The owners and Fehr knew that there was a “P.E.D.” problem in baseball and turned a blind eye because their bank accounts kept getting bigger and bigger. Only when Congress threatend them did the owners attempt to “clean up” baseball and did so with MLBPA dragging their feet.

The question now is do these players involved in the “P.E.D.” scandal belong in the Hall Of Fame. I say, yes. My reasoning is simple. If players that played in baseball when African Americans were not allowed to play are in the H.O.F. then “P.E.D.” players belong because players in the former era didn’t play against the best competition, so their number were inflated. Ty Cobb was an open racist and he is in Cooperstown. The MLB Hall Of Fame has players who doctored balls while they pitch and used corcked bats while batting. That is cheating last time I checked and whether you use P.E.D.’s, throw a spitball or a corked bat, cheating is cheating.

I do however think that players that played in the “steroid era” should have their own wing in Copperstown and it should have a plaque saying something like “Baseball, like life, has had it’s good times, bad times and regretful times. Baseball, like life, is not emune to times where better judgement was not used. Please take into consideration that through the many era’s of baseball and it’s rich history there have been times that the parties involved with baseball have done things that gave them an advantage that may have inflated their numbers.”  

Baseball can’t and shouldn’t hide from the “steroid era”. Yes it is a black eye for the national past time, but in order to let that black eye heal, they must first release every name that tested positive for steroids or “P.E.D.’s” , that way fans, players and owners don’t have to relive that era every time a new name is leaked out. Time and honesty heals all wounds and until baseball and the MLBPA come completely clean, this wound will remain open.

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 29, 2009 at 23:05

Posted in MLB

Today Sports Takes A Back Seat

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June 25th, 2008. That is the day we lost one of the greatest entertainers to ever grace a stage, Michael Jackson to a heart attack. Earlier in the day we also lost an”Angel” in Farrah Fawcett who was bravely battling that horrible disease called cancer. In Iowa on Wednesday a sports coaching legend, but an even better teacher and leader of men, Ed Thomas, was tragically gunned down in his high school weight room in front of his players. Three people who touched thousands of peoples lives in many different ways, but lets focus on Jackson.

Michael Jackson will be known for many different things. His music, his dancing, his acting, his eccentric behavior, his big heart, the charges that were brought against him involving child molestation, which he was acquitted of and of course the glove. But Jackson was the epitimy of an entertainer. His career lasted over four decades with countless hits such as “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There” with the Jackson 5 and solo hits like “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller”, which is also the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.

Jackson was known as the “King of Pop” and rightfully so. His music videos changed they way other artists made theirs and made MTV a cable fixture. His “Thriller” video was the first music video that was directed by John Landis, one of the prominent film directors in the 1980’s. It also was the first video that was also a short film and is still the standered for all videos and recording artists today. His dance moves are the standered barrier to today’s R&B signers, such as Usher, Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo and Chris Brown. Jackson redefinedthe music industry with 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career, more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era. His influence on not just music, radio, videos and any and all R&B and Pop singers is undeniable.

He was an eccentric person that had some financial troubles in the later part of his life, but he was getting ready to have a 50 date tour in London that would have lasted until late in the winter. It was his “farewell tour”. He was also planning on touring with his four other brothers, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Jackie, the Jackson 5, later this year or early next year as well. Admist all of his troubles he continued to try and resurrect his career as well as his image and show the world one last time why he was the “king of pop”.

Jackson was also an humanitarian. He donated thousands of dollars to many different causes he believed in as well as traveled to the corners of the world to help the less fortunate. His life was lived in a bubble since he was 11 years old. In and out of hotel rooms, bars, clubs, stages, recording studios and growing up in front of a camera. Living life on the road had to be hard on him and would explain some of his bizarrebehavior. As he got older in order to have any type of privacy he had to rent out amusement parks for the day so he could enjoy a roller coaster.  

Jackson, who was 50, had three kids.

Ed Thomas was the head coach for 34 years at at tiny Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Iowa. He coached hundred’s of kids, but several of his players who went on to the NFL, including the Green Bay Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester, Detroit Lions defensive end Jared DeVries and Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann. Many coaches would say that having four players in the NFL was their greatest accomplishment, but not Ed Thomas. Kampman agrees  “His legacy for many will be associated with his tremendous success as a football coach,” said Kampman. “However, I believe his greatest legacy comes not in how many football games he won or lost but in the fact that he was a committed follower of Jesus Christ.”

One of Thomas’ sons said he was most proud of his involvement in church. Aaron Thomas thanked the community for its support. “Obviously, with the shocking events of today, nothing can prepare you for what our family and the community is going through,” Aaron Thomas said at an afternoon news conference.

I think the type of person Ed Thomas was best shown in 2008. After a tornado ripped through Parkersburg, the town realized that one of the best patches of new grass needs to be at the football field, the one Ed Thomas coached on. Thomas spearheaded the effort to help repair Parkersburg. All his current and former players came back to rebuild their football field and more importantly the heart and soul of their town.

Ed Thomas embodied everything a coach should be. I take that back, he embodied everything a PERSON should be. The impact on the people’s lives that Ed Thomas had runs deeper then X’s and O’s. The life lessons he taught had a major impact helping young men become leaders in their community and hard working, god fearing, family men. Ed Thomas won 2 state titles, won 80 % of his games and in 2005  the NFL named him their 2005 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year.

Ed Thomas was 58.

The past 24 hours sports has taken a back seat to the “real world”. While we feel grief and sadness please think about what the families are going through. Say a prayer for them to stay strong and have inner peace knowing that their loved one is in a better place.   My thoughts and prayers go out to the Fawcett, O’Neal,  Jacksonand Thomas families. I think we all thank them for allowing their family members to touch our lives.

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 26, 2009 at 06:11

Posted in Entertainment

My 2009 NBA Mock Draft

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Today is the day some dreams are realized. Today expectations for not only teams, but players will go through the roof and labels will be added to players names for the rest of their lives. It is draft day for the NBA. I am a huge draft fan, MLB, NBA and of course the NFL, so I am excited. I love the feeling of “new hope” for teams that have not had a good season (or 30 seasons if you are the Clippers) and the feeling of honor and rejoicing for the successful team, the NBA champions (the Lakers this year).

On November 17th of 2008 I was flying back from Wisconsin and sat next to a Bucks beat writer, Charles F. Gardner. We got to talking about sports and we got on college basketball. I had seen a story on UCLA incoming freshman Jrue Holiday. As Charles and I talked I told Charles that Holiday would be a very good pick for the Bucks (if he came out) since he is a “combo guard” that plays really good defense and will only get better as a basketball player. I also said that the piece I seen described him as a “Dewayne Wade clone”. Charles said he would keep an eye on him and as we both got off the plane we wished each other the best of luck and went our separate ways.

Now here is my NBA Mock Draft. I know there will be trades and sales (like the Lakers selliong the 29th selection of the 1st round to the Knicks for $3 million) but I will try to do my best in nailing the top 10 and the rest of round 1. Enjoy NBA fans!

Round 1

1. Clippers: Blake Griffin- PF- Oklahoma

2. Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet- C- UConn

3. Thunder: Ricky Rubio- PG- Spain

4. Kings: Tyreke Evens- G- Memphis

5. T-Wolves: James Harden- SG- ASU

6. T-Wolves: Johnnie Flynn- PG- Syracuse

7. Warriors: Jordan Hill- PF- Arizona

8. Knicks: Stephen Curry- G- Davidson

9. Raptors: DeMar DeRozan- SG- USC

10. Bucks: Jrue Holiday- G- UCLA

11. Nets: Gerarld Henderson- SG- Duke

12. Bobcats: Terrence Willimas- SG- Louisville

13. Pacers: Ty Lawson- PG- UNC

14. Suns: James Johnson- F- Wake Forest

15. Pistons: B.J. Mullens- C- Ohio St.

16. Bulls: Austin Daye- SF- Gonzaga

17. 76ers: Brandon Jennings- PG- Roma (ITL)

18. T-Wolves: Omari Casspi- SF- Israel

19. Hawks: Tyler Hansbrough- PF- UNC

20. Jazz: DeJuan Blair- PF- Pitt

21. Hornets: Earl Clark- F- Louisville

22. Trail Blazers: Eric Maynor- PG- VCU

23. Kings: Jeff Teaggue- PG- Wake Forest

24. Mavericks: Sam Young- SF- Pitt

25. Thunder: Rodrigue Beaubois- PG- France

26. Bulls: Wayne Ellington- SG- UNC

27. Grizzlies: Josh Heytvelt- PF- Gonzaga

28. T-Wolves: Nick Calathes- PG- Florida

29. Knicks: Chase Budinger- SG- Arizona

30. Cavs: Dominique Archie- SF- S. Carolina

I spoke to Charles yesterday and we spoke for a short while since he was busy with the draft and the Bucks trade of Richard Jefferson. He said he recalled the conversation we had about Holiday and thought that IF Holiday made it to pick #10, he would be the pick for the Bucks. Time will tell who will be the best player picked, the biggest bust and the biggest steal. But one thing is for sure, today a future NBA champion team will be built and 30 players just got a lot richer.

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 25, 2009 at 19:51

Posted in NBA

Greg Jennings: Not Your Typical Wide Reciever

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When the Green Bay Packers selected Greg Jennings in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft 3 years ago many Packers faithful were not that excited about the pick. Who was this guy out of Western Michigan? Why would they pass up Miami wide receiver/corner back Devin Hester for Greg Jennings? Hester had a bigger name, was faster, a return specialist and produced for a big time school. Why would they pass up on him for Greg Jennings from Western Michigan?

Well just look at the numbers. In 4 years with the Broncos, Jennings had 238 receptions for 3,539 yards and 39 touchdowns. In 2003 he was second team All MAC after he caught 56 balls for 1,050 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also finished the 2003 season with 1,734 all-purpose yards. In 2004 “the preachers kid from Kalamazoo” posted  74 catches for 1,092 yards and 11 touchdowns while posting 1,415 all-purpose yards all while being named to the All-MAC team. In 2005 Jennings took his game to another level after catching 98 balls, which meant he led the nation with 8.91 catches per game. Jennings also had  1,259 yards with 14 touchdowns and shattered the school record with  5,093 all-purpose yards in a season and another All MAC selection. Jennings became only the 11th player to gain over 1,000 yards three times in college career.

Jennings came into Packers rookie mini camp as a player that they expected to be their third wide receiver behind Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson. Jennings had a different plan. He picked up the offense faster then any rookie wide receiver in recent memory and by the start of the season was named the starter behind Driver. Jennings injured his ankle mid way through the season which slowed him down a bit, but he still was named to the NFL All Rookie team at the end of the season. In his rookie season Jennings caught 45 balls for 632 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Jennings second year in the NFL started late after he missed the first two games due to injury. Jennings came back in week 3 and never looked back. Against the San Diego Chargers and trailing in the forth quarter, Jennings caught a slant pass from Brett Favre and took it 57 yards for the game winning touchdown. The next week against the Minnesota Vikings Jennings caught Favre’s record setting 421st career touchdown pass in another Packers win. That season Jennings collected 53 balls for 920 yards and 12 touchdowns.

In 2008 Greg Jennings picked up where he left off. Jennings played at a Pro Bowl caliber level catching 80 balls for 1,292 yards and 9 touchdowns in a season the Packers underachieved. In 2008, Jennings became the Packers”number 1″ wide receiver and favorite target of new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jennings also became a leader in the locker room, as well as on and off the field. Jennings also has a foundation that according to it’s vision statement ” is a non-profit Christian based organization dedicated to assisting children and families obtain their personal, professional and financial goals.”  here is the link: http://www.gj85foundation.com/

Greg Jennings is a remarkable person. In a sports age where money talks and the wide receiver position is filled with selfish, me first team second prima donna’s complaining about how many passes is thrown to them, Jennings takes a different approach. He is a team first guy. A good example of that is in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Jennings signaled Brett Favre that Ruvell Martin was wide open down the far sideline, leading to a touchdown pass. When Jennings had been asked about his contract which was up following the 2009 season, he said “I know the Packers are going to do the right thing.” He also said that he wouldn’t be a distraction nor would he hold out, and on June 23rd 2009 he was rewarded for his hard work and attitude.

Today, Jennings signed a new 3 year contract reportedly worthbetween $27  to $30 million dollars with $16 million in guarantees making him one of the highest paid wide receiver’s in the NFL. The deal also allows Jennings the opportunity for another big pay day when he turns 29 years old. Jennings, when asked about new expectations after signing a big contract, told the Green Bay Press Gazette today “My expectations are higher than anybody else’s, I guarantee you that. So, I’m not — money is not going to change the player that I am. It probably will change the outlook of fans … thinking that I should produce more, but I should produce more anyway. I’m going to come out here and be the same guy, and if not the same, I want to be better. And that’s me. I like to improve on anything there is that I do from year to year.”

Not bad for a preachers kid from Kalamazoo that was turned away from Michigan for being to small and a guy Packers fans didn’t know anything about. Greg Jennings is the epitemy of a role model and a “Packers person”. He breaks the mold of the stereotypical athlete that puts his own needs before everyone else. There must be something in the water in Kalamazoo because it also is the home town of Drek Jeter and if Jennings can be the football version of Jeter the Packers have found themselves a keeper. That’s something most Packers fans now know and the NFL fans are quickly finding out.

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 24, 2009 at 20:06

Posted in NFL

Retirement To Favre is N.F.L. (Not For Long)

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As a life long Packers fan I have the utmost respect and admiration for Brett Favre and what he has done for the Green Bay Packers, the city of Green Bay and us fans. When the news broke last year that he was going to retire, I, like many other Packers fans, was sad to see the end of a 16 year era that included 3 MVP’s, 1 Super Bowl title and just about every NFL quarterback record with the name Brett Favre after it.

Later that summer it all changed. The rumors were flying that he had “the itch” again. He and Mike McCarthy had spoken a few times after he announced he was finished with football, but the Packers already had moved on. They didn’t want the distraction that came with Favre every off season for the past five or so years. The team was coming off a 13-3 season and was the youngest team in the NFL. The future was bright in Green Bay .

Favre didn’t like being told that the Packers had moved on with Aaron Rodgers as their new starting quarterback. He didn’t like the Packers not calling him and asking him repeatedly to come back and be their starting quarterback for a 17th season. Mostly, Favre didn’t like GM Ted Thompson giving him a deadline to make his mind up on retirement.

Thompson had felt for some time that the Packers were being held hostage by Favre’s indecisiveness. He drafted a quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, in the first round that had shown in practice that he was ready to be a starter in the NFL, and not to mention had two years left on his contract and wanted to lock him up long term.

Then there is also the rift between Favre and Thompson. The rift is kept behind closed doors and no one will officially comment on it, but there is no love lost between the two men. Thompson has said all the right things publicly about Favre and his off again, on again playing career.  While Favre makes no bones about it, he wants to stick it to Thompson.

Last year when Favre retired, then wanted to come back, he called the Packers and requested a trade to one of the following teams, the Bears, Buccaneers or his number one choice, the Minnesota Vikings.

Thompson refused to deal him any of the teams because the Packers would be playing them during the upcoming season. Thompson and “Bus” Cook, Favre’s agent and friend met and discussed a variety of scenarios that would send Favre to other clubs, but Thompson was steadfast that he would not trade Favre to any NFC North team, most notably the Vikings.

Favre didn’t like that. He thought “Why? Are you afraid I will stick it you and make you look bad?” Favre stated publicly that he wanted to go to Minnesota and if he wants to play and the Packers don’t want him, why not let him go where he wants? But he forgot, he was under contract with the Packers and they controlled his rights.

Favre thought that he would be dealt to the Buccaneers, but Thompson got a solid deal from the New York Jets, where he was dealt and we all know what happened in New York  and the events that lead us to where we are now.

For 16 years Brett Favre had a pass from the Packers fans and the organization. He could come and go as he pleased, say what he wanted and even after all the heart breaking interceptions, could do no wrong. After he was traded to the Jets, most Packers fans still forgave him for wanting to go to Minnesota and rooted for him and the Jets. Then came this off season.

I can see why he wants to go to Minnesota . With the NFL’s best running back in Adrian Peterson, an offense that he knows front, back, side to side, a pretty good wide receiver in Bernard Berrian and a very solid defense, the Vikings seem to be only a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention. But more importantly to Favre, he’ll have a chance to show Thompson he was wrong about him and make the Packers GM look bad.

But the problem I have with Favre is his selfishness. Name another profession that will allow you to openly talk about retiring for five years. Then when you do decide to retire, the company says they will have the first day of business dedicated to you, plus offer you 25 million dollars as a severance package. That wasn’t good enough though. After about six months he changes his mind and wants his old job back, no questions asked, which already was taken over by his successor, Rodgers. There is no other profession in which this would happen.

Favre’s love for the game is one that should not be questioned. I can see it being hard for him to retire.  After all, football is something he has played since he was eight years old. What he has done for the NFL and the Packers will forever be remembered and it is legendary. But after seeing his play tail off as the season progresses over the past five years or so, I question whether all the hits he has taken over the course of his 290 consecutive games played has started to take its toll.

Favre has the right to do as he pleases, but at the cost of his legacy? He will forever be known as the greatest Packers player. He will also be remembered as a Packer, whether he likes it or not, which I think he does. No player on the green and gold will ever wear number four again nor should they. 

If you ask people now what is the first thing that comes to their mind when Favre’s name is brought up, most will say it’s his indecisiveness when it comes to his retirement, not the NFL records he holds, the three MVP’s or the Super Bowl that he helped win. That is a shame.

Packers fans have stuck by Favre through thick and thin, rehab, personal tragedies, injuries and interceptions.  But if he goes to the Vikings that may be the straw the breaks the camels back. It would be the ultimate betrayal to a fan base that has put him in elite company. 

I know he wants to stick it to Ted Thompson, but why? For making a tough business decision? Is it worth the hurt he would cause the fans that have been loyal to him and idolized him? I hope not. It would hurt to see him in purple and gold, high fiving the Vikings mascot on the Harley after a touchdown. But it is not my decision, nor is it the Packers front office or fans.

I can only hope Favre knows how much he means to the “G-Force” and the hurt that he would cause by becoming a Viking. Please Brett Favre, take a page out of the great Jackie Robinson’s book and retire rather then play for the enemy. You have nothing left to prove, not to Ted Thompson, the Packers, the fans or yourself. 

This blog is dedicated to my late grandfather Joe Arrigo. You are missed and forever loved.

This is my last blog for the weekend and at this time I would like to wish all the fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers a Happy Fathers Day.

Feel free to subscribe to joeslockerroom by clicking on the subscribe button. 

Joe

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 19, 2009 at 23:59

Posted in NFL

The 2009 Yankees: Tradition Reborn

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The 2009 New York Yankees are a different team than what Yankees fans have grown accustom to in recent years. This group of players seems to have a bond that is reminiscent of the teams managed by Joe Torre that won multiple World Series, something that has been missing in the Yankees the past few years.

The reason starts with the additions of Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and most importantly Nick Swisher. All four players have been known in baseball circles as great teammates and “team first” guys. Swisher is the ultimate teammate and the ring leader. When he was acquired by the Yankees in the off season from the White Sox many baseball pundents thought the Yankees were replacing Jason Giambi with him, but when the Yankees added “ Tex ”, Swisher was a player without a position.

In spring training, he won a position battle with Hideki Matsui (as the DH) and an everyday spot in right field after Xavier Nady went down with an elbow injury. His style of play quickly won over Yankees fans and teammates a like making him a fan favorite, but his biggest impact has been in the locker room with his presence and leadership. He has quickly become a leader amongst the likes of Yankee captain Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

Sabathia’s signing was not a surprise to anyone who follows baseball because of the Yankees poor pitching in 2008. When he signed his 7 year 161 million dollar deal the expectations went through the roof for C.C. and what he would bring on the mound, but maybe his biggest impact has been in the locker room. Bob Uecker said on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball that “C.C. is the nicest guy I have ever met in baseball”; he went on to say he (Sabathia) was a huge influence in the Brewers locker room.   

Sabathia had started off slow, but he has done that the past few years, but now seems to have picked up where he left off in Milwaukee where he was the best pitcher in baseball last year. He has been the front line, big time starter that goes deep into games, a need for the Yankees the past few seasons. I think he will only get better as the season goes on.

A.J. Burnett has matured a ton since his days as a Florida Marlin. While playing for Toronto he learned a lot from Blue Jays ace Roy “Doc” Halladay. “Doc” showed him how to spot his breaking ball, take something off his 95 mph fastball while spotting it and remain effective late in games but more importantly, he showed him how to pitch. In Florida , Burnett was known to look at the scoreboard after every pitch to see how hard he threw (sometimes reaching triple digits). Burnett has matured to become one of the Yankees club house clowns and leader of the cream towel crew.

Teixeira has been everything the Yankees front office, teammates and fans have expected and more. After a slow start at the plate he has become the hottest hitter in baseball since May 8th (the same day A-Rod returned to the line up) leading the AL in homeruns and hitting well above .300. He also has been stellar in the field, playing at a Gold Glove caliber level all year. He has saved countless errors by diving and digging out poorly thrown balls as well as robbing opponents of extra base hits. 

“ Tex ’s” personality has also rubbed off on his teammates. His signature moment happened while playing against the Texas Rangers at the new Yankee Stadium in early June. He was drilled twice by former teammate Vincente Padilla, the second time in the right shoulder. Teixeira went to first base and the next batter took out Elvis Andrus breaking up the double play and soon thereafter a three run home run by Matsui gave the Yankees the lead. When Nelson Cruz came to hit later in the game, Burnett threw at Cruz to let the Rangers (and any other teams watching) know that the Yankees are a band of brothers who have one another’s back.

The aforementioned players are not the only reason the Yankees are having a great start to the 2009 season. Robinson Cano’s play is back to All-Star form after a sub-par 2008. Cano was over aggressive and impatient last year, which made him off balance at the dish, but he seemed to have reverted back to his old strategy of patience and hitting the ball where it is pitched. Cano entered tonight (June 19th) hitting .328 with 12 HR and 42 RBI, not to mention playing a very solid defensive second base.

What can you say about Derek Jeter? He is one of the most consistent players ever and could be the greatest Yankee shortstop of all-time. He will go down as the Yankees all-time leading hitter (possibly by the end of this season) and the ultimate leader (on and off the field). He is one player that has NEVER been linked to any type of scandal, yet he continues to play at a level very few have ever played at.

Alex Rodriguez came into this season with various scandals over his head, and not to mention his hip surgery. The steroid scandal rocked the sports world, MLB and the Yankees organization, but I firmly believe that it brought this club closer together. When his teammates came out to support him when he arrived in Tampa for spring training, you could see the emotion on his face. You could see he had a burden lifted off his shoulders and he could now “just be a baseball player”. His teammates support (and even protection in some cases) seems to have given Rodriguez a new energy.

A-Rod will always be a “lightning rod for controversy” for various reasons (his contract, personal life and lack of a World Series title to name a few reasons), but he is human. His biggest flaw is he tries to please everyone (or so I have been told) for whatever reason, and only God and Alex knows why, but this I know, what he can do on a baseball field only a few men have done it better.

The Yankees also have a great supporting cast of players that have came up big so far this season, Posada, Rivera, Joba Chamberlain (who looks to have turned the corner and is becoming a dominant pitcher), Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli to name a few. I don’t mean to short change them (and others not mentioned) for what they have done, because I can go on and on (especially about Damon, Joba, Rivera and Melky) about their accomplishments thus far.

The “old” Yankee stadium will be (and is) missed. Much can (and should) be said about the “new” Yankee stadium and how often balls fly out for home runs, or how many times the Yankees can come from behind to win a game there or how it is the crown jewel of stadiums in Major League Baseball, but one thing will remain the same, the Yankee tradition. A tradition of winning (26 time champions), Hall of Famers and Legends. This 2009 team has the makings of a team of destiny….a destiny which could include a 27th world title. 

 

Please don’t forget to subscribe to Joe’s locker room. You will be notified every time I add a blog. Thanks for reading.

Joe

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 19, 2009 at 06:13

Posted in MLB