Archive for June, 2008

If you’re bored…read about the Large Hadron Collider

June 30, 2008

Read this article. There are many reasons I have posted a link to this article. It is remarkable in the true meaning of the word: worthy of comment. And so, here are some of my remarks:

  1. This is somewhat scary – that a group of scientists are planning to put into operation some unbelievably expensive contraption that a few other scientists worry could suck the earth into a black hole. Why even take such a chance when the only upside would be identifying dark matter (then we couldn’t even wonder what “dark matter” is anymore…)
  2. It’s hard to understand most of what is written in this article. I am both impressed that some people apparently have this knowledge while also being quite doubtful it is actual “knowledge”. I believe there is a strong chance this is just a giant group of tools who get together and say ‘scientific things’ and all they’ve really done here is create a giant “machine” that will light up here and there, make some threatening noises and maybe smoke every once in a while – kind of like the technology on the old Adam West Batman shows.
  3. Considering scientists are people who pride themselves on existing in their own verbal universe (strangelets, quarks, protons, cosmic rays, micro black holes), it is surprising that they’ve settled on the name “Large Hadron Collider” for this machine. While the inclusion of “Hadron” properly gives it the desired scientific mystique, “Large” and “Collider” are quite uncreative. I think that perhaps $(%%)%@*&!^&iii…3  would be more appropriate.
  4. While my temptation is to rip on those involved in this project and wonder what kind of lives their poor children must have, I find I have to stop myself due to the fact that the project, at a cost of 500 some billion $, likely shells out tons of cash to participating scientists. In fact, now instead of ripping on these people, I’m suddenly curious to explore ways I might be able to get involved.

Thoughts on McCarthy

June 26, 2008

A good read here yesterday from USA Today. Not much of consequence in this article but interesting nonetheless (who came up with the expression ‘nonetheless’ and how were they allowed to have it all be one word?).

Reading this article conjured up a few thoughts for me re Mike McCarthy. First of all, let me just say that we can officially declare that TT’s selection of MM was nothing short of brilliant. Period. Brilliant. I stand fully corrected as an adamant Jim Bates advocate at the time, even though he may have been good too. MM is the right man for this job. I know I’m putting myself out there a bit as some people want to see another good season before going off like this, but I‘m not one of them. I just can’t see the team being bad this year and Mike McCarthy is the main reason I can say this confidently. There is something about the way Mike McCarthy goes about things that is compelling, that characterizes a championship coach. I think in his brief time in Green Bay, we have all seen him develop quickly into the unquestioned leader of this team.

McCarthy’s steady leadership is a major reason why I’m not smarting as much as I thought I would be from Favre’s retirement. In fact, I think helping me with this transition is the fact that McCarthy’s approach to the game reminds me of Favre’s: he wants to win very badly and he’ll help the team win in every way he knows how, but he wants it to be fun along the way. And like Favre, McCarthy is immensely talented, focused, driven and serious when he needs to be. I know Mike Sherman had a fairly good relationship with most of his players and tried to make being a Packer fun, but he lacked talent and didn’t have the respect from the players that MM clearly has. There is not much more you can ask for in a coach: in 2 short years he’s proven he’s talented, successful, respected and well-liked. (One tiny piece of evidence for this is that I’m not sure a recluse and classic non-camp-attender, if you like, like Charles Woodson would have come to camp and even embraced a mentoring role under many other coaches). Players seem just plain excited to play for him.

One quality I really admire about McCarthy is that he doesn’t go about winning in a jack-ass way like a Bill Parcells, or a sneaky way like Bill Belicheck, or military dictator way like the old Tom Coughlin. There is something less fulfilling or something when these guys win because there is that feeling that they’ve trampled everyone and everything just to get that win. It reminds me of the coach in little league or pee-wee football or youth soccer who just screams at the kids all the time, putting way too much emphasis on winning. Sure, the kids may eventually come together and even become winners. And some would argue that that’s just fine, as long as the team wins. But I think winning like this is a tad less fulfilling because the road to success frankly, was likely not much fun.

I know the NFL is an adult league and a bottom-line business and that winning by itself can be fun, but what excites me about McCarthy is a level-headed, Tony Dungy-like quality that makes me believe that he will not only bring home a winner soon, but a complete winner – a team that’s had fun along the road. Packer players under McCarthy appear to be enjoying this journey so far and it leaves me feeling bullish about our prospects as a team over the next few years.

Finally, Mike McCarthy has accomplished one thing that I think is critically important for a young coach: he’s set a precedent for himself (and the team of course) by making a deep playoff run. Now, there are some young coaches who might be ruined by an accomplishment like this so early in their careers due to subsequent expectations (for example, Lovie Smith). But I don’t think McCarthy is at risk here…neither is Sean Payton. Now that MM has taken his team to the NFC Championship game, it won’t be so strange when the team goes back to the playoffs. The pressure, the media-hype, the pure excitement, the preparation, the bad breaks, the injuries – all of that will be just a bit more familiar the next time it happens. Because everything in life is analogous to golf, I’ll give you this: it’s like putting for eagle. The first time you do it your mind is saying over and over “oh my God, this is for eagle, only good golfers have this chance and I suck, I’ve never done this before, there is just no way this is going in, no way, I’m going to launch it way past the hole and 3-putt, try to act cool, try to act cool, don’t let on that bowel movements may be complicating this right now, I’m going to 3-putt…” And of course, you 3-putt. But the next time, it’s simply less new “I’ve done this before, I’ll birdie at worst, but hey, give it a chance, it’s not that hard of a putt”. Anyway, the point is, once there is precedent, that feeling of success feels that much more natural the next time, and I have faith that McCarthy will just keep meeting and then pushing precedent as his career rolls forward.

Even more Culpepper

June 25, 2008

At the risk of prolonging a raging debate between brother Steve and Aaron at Cheesehead TV that should have died by now, I have a quick point to make about this Culpepper thing.

I had written around the time of our pursuit of Culpepper that I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad idea. I thought he was a legit player who might not be a bad player to turn to if Rodgers were to get hurt. I still don’t think he’s as bad a player as Brother Steve seems to think nor do I think he would be able to divide what I see as a strongly bonded Packer locker room.

But I have changed my tune on the basic thought that we need a veteran back-up. I guess before I thought we should add a veteran because I hadn’t analyzed the idea of adding a veteran back-up enough. After thinking about it more though, I’ve determined that I just don’t think it’s important that a team has veteran back-ups. In most cases, there is a reason these guys aren’t starting and there’s a reason they’re available – a very good reason. Sure, a Trent Dilfer mentor-type guy can be helpful in some cases, but in our case, with this team, with the 2 QBs who were drafted and most importantly, with Mike McCarthy at the helm, I’ve become increasingly satisfied with our QB situation.

I disagree with the worry Steve and Aaron seem to have over a scenario that would have Brohm or Flynn having to step in during the season in a real game. There is something about the way McCarthy coaches that tells me these guys would be just fine filling in. One of the things that I think mysteriously got little to no credit last year after the Dallas game, was how clearly well-prepared Rodgers was to step in. Sure, Rodgers may in fact just be really good. But at the very least some of his success in that game HAS to be attributed to McCarthy. So going forward, I think it’s safe to assume Brohm and Flynn will both be very well prepared for actin. I can’t help but think Brohm will be groomed and prepared just as well as Culpepper would have been and given Brohm’s massive success in college, I’ve essentially convinced myself that Brohm may be as good a back-up option as just about anyone who was available at any point in the off-season (including Billy Volek). Further, I’ve never cared for the philosophy that says a rookie QB needs to sit for a few years. It’s about how they are prepared and I think we may have one of the best in the business at preparing QBs.

STEVE ADDS: Whenever you say Brohm is being “groomed” I picture him with his hair plastered against his head, parted on the side, probably fixed by a woman who licked her fingers to get it to go into place.

Bill Volek would have been the best backup QB option.  But he re-signed with San Diego a week before Brett Favre announced his retirement.  I don’t know that Ted Thompson would have been interested in Volek (Mike Sherman had been, proving the old adage that even a broken clock is right twice a day.)  But I think he would have been a great pickup.

Culpepper, Once More with Feeling…Er, Reason

June 25, 2008

Aaron at Cheesehead.tv doesn’t agree with my take on Daunte Culpepper.  Fair enough.  I’m not going to rehash the argument since we’ve had it twice before.  But my opposition to Culpepper is based on far more than “emotion”  — the same charge Aaron leveled at me last time.  (To be fair, since he thought Andy wrote the latest post, maybe he thinks it’s an original charge.)  I think there’s a pretty strong fact-based argument against Culpepper.  I tried to make here it a couple months ago.

Daunte Culpepper is no longer a good quarterback. After coming out of Central Florida in 1999, he sat his rookie year. He had a solid second year, then two bad ones and a decent one. In 2004, he had his best season ever, throwing an extraordinary 39 touchdowns leading a very solid Vikings offense. In 2005, Randy Moss was traded. The next year Culpepper was awful. He went 2-5 before getting injured. Brad Johnson came in and managed to win six straight games with the same offense. He went to Miami, then Oakland and has been awful at each stop.

Over his career, Culpepper has been sacked an average of three times per game. In 92 games, he has fumbled 93 times. (Favre fumbled closer to once every other game.) His career won-loss record is 41-47. So Culpepper was uneven over the first four years of his career and has been awful over the last four.

The bigger issue for me, though, is his character. I believe he would be an awful presence in the locker room, especially for a young quarterback hoping to take control of his team.

By all accounts, the guy is a problem. In 2005, Culpepper blew out a knee. That same year, he was charged as part of the Vikings “Love Boat” scandal, though the charges were later dropped because the judge did not find “probable cause.”

When the Vikings asked him to rehab with the team, Culpepper refused. Worried that Johnson was on the rise after performing well as Culpepper’s replacement, he first reportedly asked for a raise and then asked to be traded. (Culpepper doesn’t use an agent and often communicates with the press via rambling email.) New Vikings coach Brad Childress called Culpepper selfish and compared him to Terrell Ownens. “It just became a deal where I didn’t feel like it was the team. I felt like it was ‘me,’ ” Childress said of his interactions with Culpepper. “And I went through a big ‘me’ situation last year with a guy who was all about ‘me.’ “

After he ended up in Miami, Culpepper pushed himself to return from his knee injury. It did not go well. He blamed the Dolphins. A bad situation got worse. When Dolphin Coach Nick Saban told Culpepper he would be benched, the two engaged in a shouting match at practice. Eventually Culpepper demanded that the Dolphins release him (second team in as many year) and called for the NFLPA to intervene on his behalf. The ESPN article about it was headlined “Peeved Culpepper vows to block trade plans.” He was escorted from a practice by Dolphins security.

In fairness, to Culpepper there have been reports out of Oakland that he served as something of a mentor to JaMarcus Russell. Good for him, though Culpepper might have had to be on his best behavior. There were persistent reports that his debilitating hamstring injury came after he pulled it in a race with Stanford Routt, a collegiate sprinter, trying to prove that he could still run.

Three quick points.  I didn’t argue that Culpepper is a moron and a head-case because he didn’t take the Packers job.  He was a moron and a head-case long before that.  My argument was that his unwillingness to take $1 million from the Packers was further evidence of this point.  It is.

Second, I agree that some people are too eager to protect Aaron Rodgers’ potentially fragile psyche.  I made that argument myself after we drafted Brian Brohm.  Competition is one thing.  It’s quite another to have a problematic veteran QB stirring up problems because he is overconfident in his own skills and thinks he should be starting.  Maybe Culpepper would not have done this.  As noted, he apparently mentored JaMarcus Russell last year.  But Russell wasn’t keeping Culpepper from starting.  Culpepper’s own idiocy was.

Finally, in the middle of Aaron’s post on “emotion,” we find this passage:

Regardless of how much promise either rookie has shown or will show, they are both rookies. And if we see either one taking meaningful snaps in a game this season, you can mark a large ‘L’ on that weekly Packer schedule that you have hung on your wall as soon as they enter the game…If we see either one starting more than one or two games, you can consider the season over.

I hope neither rookie has to play this year.  But if that unhappy circumstance came upon us, I’m not sure it means the season is over.  Brian Brohm is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft and while rookies often struggle, there is some precedent for rookie success.  (In 2004, rookie Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a 15-1 record and an appearance in the AFC championship game.)

Vikings to win NFC North – ESPN’s Sportsnation all hammered?

June 24, 2008

Check this out from ESPN’s Sportsnation – 49% of respondents believe that the Vikings will win the NFC North and only 34% think the Packers will. Also, cast your vote and then check out how mindlessly drunk the huge % of fans must have been who believe that the Packers will most likely  either barely make the playoffs or miss them entirely.

What? Is Dr. Z and his crazy Vikings Super Bowl prediction somehow swaying the minds of fans and pundits? What is going on here?

Doctor

June 24, 2008

The other day, the doctor told us that our son was developing fine motor skills. I said thank you.

The NFL’s DUI problem just doesn’t make sense

June 24, 2008

There seems to be a growing problem with drinking and driving among NFL players. Now, I used the word “seems” intentionally in the last sentence because I’m not sure if the number of DUIs recently is actually higher than in the past or if the media now just makes it out to be this way. (Think about the times back in the 60s when drinking and driving was the norm and guys like Max McGee and Paul Hornung were flying around…partying was almost glorified and my guess is that the raw percentage of players drinking and driving was likely even higher).

Irregardless (which, by the way, is not really a word, so next time someone you know uses irregardless trying to sound smart, correct them by telling them to just use regardless and throw in there that they must not be as smart as they think they are), these guys getting DUIs just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not saying this from a moral high-ground position, I’m saying this from an economic position. When there is so much at stake for these guys (endangering their lives/the lives of others, suspensions, being cut, public ire, fines, shaming the family), why don’t they take a cab or hire someone to drive them? We are talking about people who earn more in one lousy practice than most of us do in many months of work. Why can’t they afford to take a taxi? Why can’t they hire someone to take them to/from a party if they know they’re going to have a few drinks?

Now, I know there may be puritan prohibitionists out there wondering why these guys even need to drink in the first place. After all, they’re athletes/role models etc. Well, I won’t go that far for several reasons: 1) they’re human and beer is good, 2) given most of these guys are in their 20s, a strong argument could be made that making sure to drink a few Pabst in one’s 20s is the objectively right thing to do, 3) it’s not necessarily the drinking piece to me that’s problematic (let me make my point here), but it’s the incredibly poor decision to, while drunk, get into a fancy car that is already noticeable and drive 70mph in a 30mph zone. Not only could all of these guys afford a limo to take them home, they could take a helicopter for the love…In fact, many of these guys have so much money, they could afford to buy the night club and have it moved to their backyard so they could just walk back home after the night expires. It just doesn’t make sense.

(Business idea: offer to be a team’s permanent designated driver and while these guys are hammered going home, obtain info from them re team secrets, sell the secrets to a website and make a fortune).

What Does Culpepper Offer Tell Us?

June 23, 2008

Not much, I hope. I know I’m late to this, but what was Ted Thompson thinking offering Daunte Culpepper $1 million to mess with Aaron Rodger’s head and do that stupid-ass arm roll serve as a backup quarterback? If there were any questions that Culpepper is a head case and a moron, his decision to turn down a deal with a playoff-contending team should answer them.

We’ve engaged in a lot of Ted Thompson love over the past nine months and he’s deserved it. But man, what a bonehead move that would have been.

Javon Walker, Thug

June 23, 2008

When news broke that Javon Walker had been found unconscious on a Las Vegas street more than a week ago, I thought it best to reserve judgment.

Not any more.  The guy’s a thug.  He has been captured on video spraying champagne into the crowd at one night club and now the story he told to a website called “TheDirty.com” — yes, that’s where Walker gave his first post-incident statement — seems to be untrue.  Video captured on the night in question indicates that Walker was not taken forcibly to a car and then robbed, but that he walked voluntarily to the car in question.  More here.

He’s a whiner and a thug.  I’m glad we don’t have to put up with him any more.  How stupid is Al Davis to have signed him to a $55 million contract.  Good riddance.

Bedard’s source: Taylor not interested in Packers

June 23, 2008

Read here from Greg Bedard’s Saturday morning article at jsonline for info on why Jason Taylor may not want to be traded to Green Bay. Interesting, reading this changes my tune somewhat on going after the guy.

I have been outspoken re my interest in picking up Jason Taylor really since March of this year. I still feel like it makes sense for him and for the Packers, but if Bedard’s source is telling the truth, suddenly, I don’t think I want Taylor on the team. Maybe things might change with the proper courtship, but it seems unlikely according to Bedard’s source, that Taylor will consider being a Packer.

This is too bad. Not only could this development derail my previously hatched plan for defensive domination, but it also speaks ill of Taylor as a person. If indeed, a main reason for excluding Green Bay from his list is because it’s not a glamorous enough market, then I don’t want the guy on the team because he’s just being a divo (male diva…). But I also think it doesn’t make sense. Sure, maybe in a big market he could get some good cash for local advertising etc, but as Bedard points out, the Packers are a highly visible NFL franchise. Going to Green Bay won’t leave Taylor floating in a strange world of sudden obscurity. In fact, I’d argue that especially with Favre gone and a new QB, Taylor would suddenly be looked to as being part of the answer to the post-Favre era questions – which would bring him plenty of press. The Packers are still a relevant team nationally until we have another losing record. (I’m struggling to even make this argument though because when I argue that Taylor will have plenty of press and attention drawn to him if he comes to Green bay, this runs counter to the kind of player the Packer faithful embrace.)

So my message for Jason Taylor is this: listen, you’re a great player who still has tremendous talent. We’d love to have you in Green Bay, but only if you’ll have us. If not, frankly, we very much don’t want you here.

And one last thought: why would anyone…ANYONE…want to play in Philadelphia?


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