Monday, April 30, 2007

Amazing Psychic Powers!

Now that we’ve all made it through another exciting, exhausting experience of watching the NFL Draft on TV, it’s good to step back, take a deep breath and analyze what we’ve learned.

The first comment Packers Literary Corner would like to make is respectfully submitted to fans who went to the Lambeau Field Atrium to watch the festivities: Perhaps next year they could refrain from booing our General Manager, Ted Thompson. There are several reasons we’d advise this, first being health concerns. Don’t wear yourself out booing the people who are on our side. Conserve your energy for when you will need to boo the loudest: when teams such as the Eagles, Bears and Vikings visit Lambeau Field this fall. Suppose your tickets are behind the opposing team’s bench. You’d hate to not have the strength to tell Rex Grossman what you thought of his performance in the Super Bowl, because you wore yourself out on Draft Day.

Pace yourselves, Packer People. It’s a long season.

Another reason is simple politeness. Most people around the NFL think Ted Thompson is an excellent judge of talent. Lambeau Field is Ted Thompson’s office. Suppose you walked into work and got booed each day. It might cause you to begin sending your resume to other potential employers. The most vocal of the Ted Thompson haters in the chat rooms and message boards might consider the possibility that if he leaves, his replacement could be much worse. The General Manager can only find the players, remember. He can’t teach them to come together and play as a team. Or to hold onto the football. Or to not throw interceptions. Or to not appear like confused roosters when attempting to play pass defense.

Now on to the thing that really amazes me about the NFL Draft, how the television networks, including ESPN and the NFL Network, manage to hire commentators and analysts all of whom have psychic powers. Where do they find such gifted people? I mean, no more than ten seconds after a player is picked, these TV Sports Psychics know whether that player’s career in the NFL will be a success. They can see five, ten years into the future! Not only that, prior to the pick being made, they know who should be picked. And after the pick is made, they know who should have been picked instead of the pick the team made. They know who will be the best players in next year’s Draft before this year’s draft is even concluded. It’s astonishing!

I used to think it was just a Mel Kiper Phenomenon, that his enormous dome of hair was some sort of clever concealment for an enlarged cranium, guarding a brain of truly amazing proportions. No, even the boys slowly going bald, like Chris Berman and Rich Eisen, have these psychic powers as well, as do the women covering the Draft like Suzy Kolber, whose hair styles change more often than the Dolphins switch quarterbacks. It’s not the hair at all. These are just superior beings.

Frankly, these people’s talents are being wasted on something as mundane as the NFL Draft. Mega-brains like these need to be applied to more challenging scientific issues like developing alternative energy sources and combating global warming.

And it ruins things for the fans, when it turns out it really doesn’t matter what we think might happen in the Draft. The TV Sports Psychics have computed all the answers before our primitive, feeble little fan brains can even crank into gear. I guess there is no need to subscribe to all those publications with Pre-Draft information and attempt to make our own predictions of whom the Packers might draft. The TV Sports Psychics know who Ted Thompson will select prior to Ted even knowing himself. And if Ted doesn’t pick who they think he should have picked, he has only himself to blame.

Amazing stuff!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Movie Review: The Godfather of Green Bay

I have a difficult time choosing movies to rent at my local Blockbuster store. These days, Hollywood seems to be making more and more horror films, and not very imaginative ones at that. I don’t like slasher movies, horror flicks or other films that feature excessive blood, violence and gore. Why bother to pay money for such fare, I’ve decided, when if I’m in the mood for something frightening and gory, I can just pop a tape of last year’s Patriots/Packers game into the VCR, or for that matter the 0-26 debacle versus the Bears at home last season. (Just in case you don’t recall, the Packers proudly achieved the “0” that day).

At my house, we turn the lights down low, bring out the popcorn and sit fearfully by the flickering firelight—sometimes having to hide under our official NFL logo Packer fleece blankets, when we can’t stand to watch chilling scenes from:

The Game When the Defense Never Showed Up (a Bob Sanders production)

The Offense that Couldn’t Score... (a McCarthy/Favre co-production, with casting by Ted Thompson)

Given a choice, though, I much prefer to delve into my Video collection and pull out an action-packed movie set in a steamy, tropical locale:

Miami, Nice!

I also enjoy holiday films the whole family can enjoy, such as that recent New Year’s Eve classic:

A Dog Named Rex (nothing in this one to gross you out, man!).

Today’s Movie Review:

Given this shortage of interesting films at the video store, imagine my delight when I happened upon a DVD titled: The Godfather of Green Bay. And on the cover it showed a rugged Wisconsin-type guy in a gold shirt, and the title was printed in green (sort of a pukey green rather than the beautiful hunter green, but still intriguing).

I’ll skip the usual banalities movie reviewers employ, such as a dull recital of the plot, or weird comparisons to other films (it’s Spiderman meets the Exorcist on Titanic!), and skip right to the highlights:

Numerous scenes at a Packer Bar, with authentic Packer fans drinking real alcohol.

Many stirring renditions of the song, THE BEARS SUCK!

Realistic portrayal of the fashion hazards of deer hunting, such as how ridiculous grown men look in orange jackets.

Lovely Lauren Holly’s portrayal of the tall, THIN blonde we always wished we had known in high school in the Midwest.

The glorious scenery of Northeastern Wisconsin in the fall. The cinematographer involved in this somewhat low-budget movie did a great job filming the outdoor scenes.

A heartwarming ending in which the protagonist, an aspiring stand-up comic, gives up the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles to return to Packerland (and mainly to the lovely tall THIN blonde mentioned earlier).

As they say, Behold the Power of Cheese.

The Packers Literary Corner says, The Godfather of Green Bay is a Must See.

Over Time the Novel

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Roadmap to The Playoffs 2007

With the release of the NFL schedule for 2007, a lot of people have taken a crack at predicting how may games the Packers will win this year. My questions is, how can we get to 10 wins? That number is important because a 10-6 record almost always gets you in the playoffs. Last year, because of the relative weakness of the NFC vs. AFC, a nine win season was enough to secure a playoff berth, and the Packers almost made it with their strong finish and 8-8 record. When I first saw the 2007 schedule, I thought getting to 10 wins looked like quite a daunting task.

To me, getting to 10 wins absolutely requires two things:

--Re-establish a formidable home field advantage, which has actually been shaky ever since the Atlanta Falcons came in and beat us at home in the playoff game in the 2002 season, and the problem has snowballed the last three seasons. When the schedule maker gives you four home games out of the first six, you should start at least 4-2, not 2-4.

--No more stumbling through the first five games of the season, as the team has done in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Looking at the individual games, I’ve circled four on the calendar that I think will tell the tale for 2007, and with the goal of reaching ten wins, the Packers need to:

1) Beat Philadelphia at home in Week 1. If we’re going to re-establish a home field advantage, we might as well get started right away.
2) Beat the Bears at home in Week 5. Here again, the Packers have had some embarrassing performances in recent years in nationally televised night games. What better time to reverse that trend?
3) Win either the game at Denver or the game in Kansas City in weeks 7-8, avoiding a 2-game losing streak.
4) Win at Dallas, traditionally a difficult venue for us.

The other wins in my 10 win scenario are, at home vs. San Diego (could be a very tough game), at home vs. Washington, Minnesota and Oakland, at St. Louis, and the final home game vs. Detroit.

In this scenario, I am allowing for a home loss vs. Carolina, which always plays the Packers tough, and, oddly perhaps, the Thanksgiving game vs. Detroit. The Lions almost always rise up and play a good game that day, and the Packers will have only a four day break between the Carolina game and the one in Detroit.

The other losses would come at NY Giants in Week 2, at Minnesota in Week 4, and at Chicago in Week 15. I’ve heard many people say the Bears will have clinched the division by then and will be “relaxing” before the playoffs begin, but teams only relax the last game of the season after clinching, not the 2nd last game. And the bitter taste of the whupping the Pack game them at home in week 16 last year—and the subsequent whupping that Rex Grossman got in the Chicago media—should be enough motivation for them to bring their “A” game.

To summarize, my scenario is to go 7-1 at home and 3-5 on the road. The games I have down at wins that I’m least confident about are the San Diego game at home, and the game at Dallas, but in each case we will be playing teams with new coaches. And having a new coaching staff always involves some uncertainty when those transitions occur.

Projected losses that could easily turn out to be wins would be the game at New York and the Thanksgiving game at Detroit, and the Carolina game at home.

So there we have it. A 10-6 season is clearly possible. But that’s easy for me to say. The only challenge I face during the games is making sure I don’t leave the brats on the grill too long.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Nasty Airwaves (The Meaner the Ranting, the Higher the Ratings)

The furor over radio shock jock Don Imus’ nasty remarks about the Rutgers Women’s basketball team reminds us of the larger issue of how rude much of broadcasting has become, particularly political talk and call-in shows of course, but sports are by no means exempt from this pestilence. And it even seeps into sports fan message boards and chat rooms, where the “discussion” often descends into name calling and other unpleasantness, instead of engendering a feeling of camaraderie among the participants or excitement about a given team.

Part of this money driven. Media companies notice the high ratings that sometimes arise from rantings like Imus’ and his ilk, so they seek out other thick-skinned broadcasters to dish out this pollution to listeners, or in some cases they coach the talk show hosts to inject more controversy into the programs.

In my view, life is too short and precious to waste time listening to or watching programs obviously designed to make you angry. Those of us seeking news and information from broadcast channels too often are subjected to opinions or advocacy instead.

There’s even a new kind of journalist, the “media critic,” employed to give his or her opinion on all the other opinion-givers out there in broadcast land. These individuals tend to be cheerleaders for the controversial broadcasters, endorsing personalities that are abrasive or “edgy” and labeling the nice people involved in broadcasting as “boring.”

I like boring sports broadcasters. I like broadcasters who blend into the background and let the game be the story, or are economical with their use of words. I prefer individuals who behave like gentlemen or ladies on the airwaves, broadcasters who have respect for the sensibilities of their audience. I just want to know the score of the game, who won and who lost.

I don’t need windy pontification about the grand social significance of this or that athlete, or this or that sports event. Because there is no grand social significance. It’s just a pastime (which the dictionary defines as: an activity that occupies one’s spare time pleasantly).

Wouldn’t be great if sports—and the people who talk and write about sports--could be fun again?

Or put another way, if it were up to me, there wouldn’t be any Don Imus controversy, because Don Imus wouldn’t have ever been on the air in the first place.