Monday, March 31, 2008
The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off the 2008 regular season vs their division rival, the Chicago Cubs. What started off as a dreary day for both teams, a unsung hero emerged from the Milwaukee clubhouse, and a new star was born for Chicago. Of course I'm talking about Chicago's Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome, who's name alone could almost get you in trouble with the FCC. The other star you might not have guessed, his name Tony Gwynn Jr., who's days as the Milwaukee Brewers center fielder are already numbered. Gwynn is filling the CF spot because of free agent signee Mike Cameron is serving his 25 game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance last fall.
In his first career opening day start, Gwynn had two squib singles to provide all the offense the Brewers could manage off Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano in the first six innings. His bunt helped set up the Brewers' three-run ninth off Cubs closer Kerry Wood. And his sacrifice fly off reliever Bob Howry scored Craig Counsell (leadoff pinch double) with the winning run.
Gwynn also caught Derrek Lee's short liner to center for the final out that gave Gagne an ignominious win and David Riske a squeaky-clean, nine-pitch save in his first appearance for the Brewers.
Pitching for the Brew Crew was their ace Ben Sheets and he did not disappoint. Sheets went 6.1 innings, allowed two hits and struck out seven, while also taking a 41 minute break due to a rain delay.
"I was going to start thinking about it strongly at the hour mark," manager Ned Yost said of the possibility of not letting Sheets return after the third-inning rain delay. "We never got there. He felt good, and I trust my pitchers."
Both the Brewers and the Cubs struggled with their closers. Kerry Wood plunked Rickie Weeks with his first pitch. Gwynn put down a two-strike sacrifice to get Weeks to second and set up an intentional walk to Prince Fielder. Ryan Braun followed with a single to left center to score Weeks and make it 1-0. Two hitters later, Corey Hart lined a double to the right-field corner that made it 3-0.
Eric Gagne sputtered in his Brewers' debut when Lee (single) and Aramis Ramirez (walk) reached with no outs. After falling behind 3-0 to Fukudome, Gagne finally threw a strike. But Fukudome struck the next offering just to the right of the 400-foot mark in center.
"We still don't have that kid figured out," Yost said of Fukudome, who doubled, walked and singled in three at-bats against Sheets. "Compared to the times we saw him in spring training, he was a different hitter today."
While Fukudome had his moments, so did Gwynn.
"It's early, but a game like that against the Cubs, it's huge for us," Gwynn said.
It is also too early to be concerned about Eric Gagne after 1 game but he was shaky at best on the mound. With Gagne, the Brewers are waiting to see what they have. For three years (2002–2004) he was statistically the most outstanding closer in the game, winning the Cy Young Award in 2003. During that period, he set a major league record of 84 straight converted save chances. With the Red Sox, his last team, Gagne allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings (a 9.00 ERA) with three blown saves and an opponent batting average of over .350. For the Brewers sake, I hope he becomes the pitcher he was in 2003, or the $10 million per year he's being paid will be money down the drain.
Congrads to the Brewers on their win over the Cubs. Brewers are now undefeated and in 1st place.
Former Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan has signed a three-year contract with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, according to his Brookfield-based agent.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
According to agent John Perla Jr., Donovan will be one of four quarterbacks in pre-season camp.
Donovan, from Arrowhead High School, started all 13 games for UW last season. He passed for 2,607 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and guided UW to a 9-4 record.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Davidson's amazing tournament run continued on Friday night. This time it was at the expense of the #3 seeded Wisconsin Badgers, as the Badgers fell 73-56.
With LeBron James on hand to watch him play, Davidson's Stephen Curry added to his growing legend with 33 points on 11-for-22 shooting, including 6 for 11 from three-point range. The Badgers defense and Michael Flowers just couldn't contain Curry, or any Davidson players for that matter.
Early on in the game Wisconsin PG Trevon Hughes went down with an ankle injury and the Badgers missed him all game. They had a tough time generating any type of offense and looked lost at times. It certainly was not your typical Badger basketball, we've all become accustom to. The Badgers also failed to establish any inside game, sometimes leaving 4 guys outside of the paint and behind the 3 point line.
From a defensive standpoint, it also did not look like Badger ball. They got beat inside, left guys wide open for 3's, and lost out on countless offensive rebounds. Basically they got out-played, out-hustled, and out-coached.
To look back on the season and say it was a disappointment, would be wrong. The Badgers had a great year and exceeded expectations by winning both the regular season Big Ten Championship and the Big Ten tournament championship. Farewell to seniors Brian Butch, Greg Stiemsma, and Michael Flowers.
Davidson now takes on #1 seeded Kansas on Sunday for a berth to the Final Four.
Photo credit: Joe Koshollek
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Rob Davis has quietly spent the last 11 seasons long snapping for the Green Bay Packers. Besides Favre, Davis was the only remaining member of the Packers 97 Superbowl team. Now both have officially retired.
Davis will be headed for the Packers front office as director of player development. Davis had been a player/coach assisting in that department while still playing on Sundays for the past few years.
In his new role, Davis will assist players in adjusting on and off the field and contributing to the community. Davis said he's already contacted some players about his plans.
"We want them to finish their education, that's first and foremost," Davis said. "We all know the smarter you are, the better a football player you will be."
Thompson said Davis, who was one of the most respected leaders in the Packers' locker room throughout his career, should have little trouble succeeding in his new role.
"He's been a tremendous contributor as a player and I have no doubt that he will carry that commitment and enthusiasm to his position," Thompson said in a statement. "He is someone who has always been respected as a leader and mentor in the locker room and we know that will continue."
The Packers signed Thomas Gafford to compete for Davis' vacant position. Gafford lost a training camp competition to Davis in 2006.
A Classy move by the Packers and to keep an asset like Davis around was a great move. Best of luck to Rob Davis in life after football.
Michael Flowers can take a player right out of a game. Just ask Michigan State start guard, Drew Neitzel. Late in the season, Flowers held Neitzel to 1-10 shooting and made life miserable for the Spartans. He plans to do the same to the Tournament's biggest story Stephen Curry of Davidson.
Curry is the 4th leading scorer in the nation at 25.7 points a game, and is shooting around 44% from beyond the arc. He has lead Davidson to the Sweet 16 and beat opponents Gonzaga and #2 seeded Georgetown. Curry's numbers in the tournament are ridiculous. In two games he is shooting 51%, including 52% from three-point range. In second halves alone, he is averaging 27.5 points per game. His 70 points in two tournament games account for 45% of the Wildcats' scoring. Basically shut down Curry and Davidson might just struggle.
Given the number of screens the Wildcats are expected to set, Wisconsin's ability to slow down Curry and make him really work for his points is going to depend on how well Flowers chases.
We'll see how he fares Friday night against Curry. Flowers' goal is simply to make Curry work for whatever he gets.
"All I worry about is if I'm there, if I'm making him sweat," Flowers said. "And if I'm not making him sweat, then I feel like I don't deserve to be out there and I'm not doing my part."
Badgers take on #10 seeded Davidson on Friday night in the Sweet 16. The winner advances to play Kansas/Villanova in the Elite 8.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Claudio Vargas. Vargas was 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in Spring Training, and looked to lock up one of the final spots in the starting rotation.
Brewers skipper Ned Yost said, "We feel, in all fairness to him, we didn't see him pitching in Triple-A. We feel like he's a big-league pitcher."
Yost said there was some slight interest in Vargas on the trade market but not enough to make a deal. When Vargas cleared waivers, the Brewers decided to release him.
As expected, Vargas was somewhat shocked by the move.
"I thought that when they signed me, they needed me here, so I'm kind of surprised a little bit," said Vargas, who was 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five spring outings. "And the way I've been pitching, I've been (as good) as any starter here, maybe except one or two.
"I understand, they want to keep Carlos and Parra in the starting rotation. And Yovani will come back soon, so someone (was out). I know I can start at some point in the major leagues for some other team."
The move paves the way for two young pitchers to stay on the Brewers staff. And they are Manny Parra and Carlos Villanueva. Villanueva looked to be the odd man out toward the end of Spring Training and was going to start the year in Triple-A. All has since changed after the move.
The starting rotation now looks like: Sheets, Suppan, Para, Villanueva, and Bush for the time being. Yovani Gallardo is expected to join the rotation in mid-April after recovering from knee surgery, bumping one of the 5 out of the rotation.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Chris Capuano, who had reconstructive elbow surgery on his pitching arm in 2002, might need to have additional surgery to repair a torn replacement tendon in his elbow. The injury known as "Tommy John" surgery haunts every pitcher. Cappy is going on his second. Many pitchers don't recover from this injury so Cappy is facing an uphill battle once again. It's rare for a pitcher to need a second "Tommy John" surgery, and also rare for one to return to top form afterward.
An 18-game winner in 2005 and a National League all-star in 2006, Capuano bolted to a 5-0 start last season but went winless in his last 12 decisions and pitched in 22 consecutive losing efforts by the Brewers, including four in relief.
That skid forced Capuano to compete for a job in the starting rotation this spring. Including the aborted outing against Seattle, he was 1-1 with a 9.00 earned run average in four games (two starts).
"I know for a fact that I can come back to 100%, which is the key," said Capuano, who indicated that the tendon tear "looks pretty clean."
"When you go through any rehab, it's 100% believing you're going to come back better and stronger than you were before surgery. If you don't commit to that fully, you're not going to come back as quick.
We wish Cappy the best on his rehab and hope to see him in a Brewers uniform soon.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Marquette played Stanford about as tough as you can. That's what made their 82-81 overtime loss to the Stanford Cardinal so difficult to swallow.
Knowing they'd have to get every player's best effort to try and slow down the #3seeded Cardinal's 7-foot Lopez twins, the #6 seeded Golden Eagles got that. MU also ran every available big body at them at some point, used up almost every available foul and tried every trick in the book.
Yet it was Brook Lopez's turnaround jump shot with just 1.3 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference, as it sent Stanford on to the Sweet 16 next weekend and MU back to Milwaukee to reflect on a memorable season that ended in heartbreaking fashion.
"It was an extremely tough shot. He hit a number of tough shots down the stretch," said MU point guard Dominic James. "Our guys were battling down low, and it just happened to fall. This team is all about facing hard times and people doubting us. We showed a lot of character throughout the tournament, throughout the entire season.
Brook Lopez finished with 30 points - 28 of which came in the second half and overtime - and Robin Lopez added 18 to lead Stanford, which shot 50.0% in the second half and 62.5% in the decisive final 5 minutes. MU was paced by Jerel McNeal's personal-high 30 points, 9 of which came in the extra session on 3 three-pointers.
After finishing regulation tied, 71-71, the overtime essentially wound up being Brook Lopez vs. McNeal, with the difference being Lopez was knocking down layups and short jumpers while McNeal was hitting three-pointers.
The lead changed six times up to the final possession, with McNeal's third and final three making it 81-80 with 2:18 left. Stanford had three shots at retaking the lead - all on the same possession - but missed all three.
MU kept the ball with some timely offensive rebounding from there, and twice had shots to extend its lead. But twice McNeal missed mid-range jumpers, the second of which Stanford corralled and got to midcourt, where the Cardinal called time out with 9.2 seconds remaining to set up a final shot.
"I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win," McNeal said. "We've been known in the overtime, crunch time, for shooting jump shots, and they were shooting layups. They were going to win shooting layups over jump shots."
It came as no surprise that the ball went directly into Brook Lopez, who, as he had done all game to that point, scored from the left block. The game-clincher came at the expense of Dwight Burke, who had good position and challenged as best he could, but simply couldn't get high enough to affect the shot.
"The shot that he made was a tough shot," said MU coach Tom Crean. "Brook made big plays, and he caught it so deep that we couldn't get our double-team down there."
MU called time out with 1.3 seconds left to set up a final play, which saw Lazar Hayward throwing a baseball pass to Dan Fitzgerald at midcourt. Fitzgerald got his hands on the ball but couldn't control it, and time expired, ending the Golden Eagles' season in the most painful way possible.
Photo credit AP
The Wisconsin Badgers showed they're not just a defensive team, but they can score too, beating the #11 seed Kansas State 72-55. Kansas State freshman phenom Michael Beasley who put up 23 points and had 13 boards, but was not the story, Badgers Sophomore Guard Trevon Hughes was.
Hughes scored a game high 25 points and was 4-9 from 3 point land. The Badgers also got solid performance out of Greg Stiemama who had a career high 14 points and 7 boards. Michael Flowers was pretty good, too, scoring 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including a perfect 3 for 3 from three-point range. Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft helped hold Beasley to six points and two baskets in the second half.
The Badgers, who hit 9 of 22 three-pointers, held Kansas State to 39.6% shooting, no three-pointers and a season low for points. And besides Beasley (23 points) and Bill Walker (18), no other Wildcat scored more than four points.
The Badgers improved to 31-4 and set a school record for victories in a season. They advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in Ryan's seven seasons.
They will play either #2 seeded Georgetown or #10 seeded Davidson on Friday at a time to be determined at Ford Field in Detroit. Georgetown and Davidson play at 1:50 p.m. today in Raleigh, N.C.
Photo credit AP
Friday, March 21, 2008
The Badgers continued their roll into the NCAA Tounrament on Thrusday night beating the #14 Cal State-Fullerton Titans 71-56. The Badgers have now won 11 straight games including the conference tournament, last losing to Purdue in February.
Cal State came into Thrusday's game as the sixth best scoring team in the naiton with 82.6 ppg, but only shot 36% in the game. The height advantage clearly showed as Cal State's biggest player was only 6-foot-5. The Badgers had 18 offensive rebounds and out rebounded Cal State 50-27.
The Badgers were lead by Brian Butch (14 points), Joe Krabbenhoft (13), and Jason Bohannon had 13 points off the bench. Cal State got a solid effort by Josh Akognon who put up 31 of Cal State's 56 points.
The Badgers face off next against Kansas State who upset USC in a match up up freshman phenoms Oj Mayo (USC) and Player of the Year candidate Michael Beasley (KSU). Beasley had 23 points and 11 boards in KSU's 80-67 win over the Trojans. Kansas State also got some solid performances from other players such as Bill Walker with 22 points. Look for him to make some noise as well as Beasley against the Badgers.
As always...........GO BUCKY!!!!!!!
Photo Credit John Maniaci
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Marquette battled all game to beat the Kentucky Wildcats 74-66, in the first round match up in the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette had 4 players in double digits with Jerel McNeal leading the way with 20 points followed by Haywood (16), Dominic James (15), and Matthews (13). On the other side, Kentucky had an amazing effort put in by Joe Crawford who dominated the Golden Eagles all game putting up a game high 35 points.
Marquette shot 44% from the field and 38% from 3-point land. They also where 23-29 from the charity stripe for just shy of 80%. As a team free throws have been a weak point for Marquette all year long, so it's good to see them put up respectable numbers when they needed to. Matthews hit eight free throws in the final 31 seconds.
Marquette will take on the winner of #3 Standford (26-7) vs. #14 Cornell (22-5), which might be the smartest matchup in the history of the NCAA. Both teams comes from elite academic schools with Stanford out of the PAC-10 and Cornell out of the IVY League.
The Badgers will tip off at 8:40 pm central time against Cal State Fullerton for their first round matchup.
Photo Credit: AP Photo-Kevork Djansezian
Ryan Grant wants a raise. He wants a long term deal with the Pack, and while he's no Samkon Gado, he's only started 9 games in his NFL career. I think he does deserve a raise, but I see no reason to give him a huge deal based on half a year. Ted Thompson will do what's right, lets only hope Grant is happy.
He's an exclusive rights free agent meaning he can't go anywhere but Green Bay, so there's no worry in that. But he has yet to sign a contract for this upcoming season while holding out for a more lucrative contract.
"His agent, Alan Herman, said Grant will take part in all the team's minicamps and workouts this spring," reports Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette," but that he will not sign the $370,000 minimum tender for an exclusive-rights player who has only one accrued season in the NFL. Grant is looking for a longer, far more lucrative deal after he rushed for 956 yards and averaged 5.1 yards a carry despite being the team's primary halfback for only the final nine games of the season."
It's a sign of good faith that Grant will take part in all the teams minicamps and workouts, but he better not hold out too long.
Technically Grant can withhold his services until the Packers agree to negotiate. And while he has a tiny bit of leverage because he had such a good year, he's only started nine games in his NFL career.
Working in the Packers' favor is that Grant won't reach restricted free agency until 2010 and unrestricted free agency until 2011. Grant had better play and play well if he wants to see those days.
The Packers will probably be more than willing to give Grant a nice pay raise, but don't expect them to break the bank. If the Packers go and draft a running back on the first day of the draft, the price for Grant goes down considerably. Ray Rice would look good in a Packers' uniform. And he would provide stiff competition for Grant.
In other Packer news, Green Bay signed two of their exclusive rights free agents, TE Troy Humphrey and FB John Kuhn. Both guys were unable to even talk with other teams, so their is no surprise the Pack signed them. Humphrey spent 2007 on IR after a foot injury in training camp, and John Kuhn was picked up early in the regular season and became a great asset to the Packers deep run in the playoffs.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Bucks owner Herb Kohl was quoted as saying the Bucks "need a fresh approach". Kohl is looking to shake things up for a team that's 23-44 and coming off a loss to the worst team, record wise in the NBA, the Miami Heat.
"It was for me a very difficult decision," Kohl said. "Larry Harris has been a very good and highly valued member of the Milwaukee Bucks for 20 years. My heart and my head were at a different place. My heart certainly wanted to maintain our relationship.
"But my head told me the needs of our organization at this time were such that I believed we needed to have an outside person with a fresh approach to take a look at our basketball organization, to see how we can get better and get back to the playoffs."
Harris knew the Bucks had to produce quickly this season or he would be in jeopardy, as he was working in the final year of his contract. Harris received an extension in November 2005, one that added two years to his deal and carried through the current season.
Kohl rejected notions that he had been "a meddler" and said he reserved the right to help make decisions on major personnel or coaches.
"There has been a minimum of second-guessing, if any," Kohl said. "The only time I stepped in to differ with him to some degree was on this recent rumor of a trade for Zach Randolph. I personally thought that was not the right thing for us to do."
At the February trade deadline, Harris had a deal in place with the New York Knicks to trade Bobby Simmons, Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell for Randolph and Fred Jones.
Kohl elaborated later in the news conference and said he didn't want to make the deal due to Randolph's off-court problems in Portland and his struggles in New York this season, and due to the hefty contract still due the former Michigan State star.
Director of player personnel Dave Babcock will run the day-to-day operations of the team until a new general manager is selected, but Kohl said Babcock would not be a candidate for the general manager position.
"At this point I'd rather not say anything about anybody, except it's wide open for the best person we can find."
The Green Bay Packers have actually signed a free agent. They agreed to terms with St. Louis LB Brandon Chillar on a 2 year $5.2 million dollar deal. The 6-3, 242-pound Chillar, had 85 tackles, 2 sacks, four passes defensed and three forced fumbles in 15 games, 14 of them starts.
Chillar has size and explosiveness for playing the run and decent short-area speed for covering tight ends. He is not a top-notch cover man and didn't play in the Rams' nickel package last year, but he has the ability to line up over the tight end and affect his release.
The signing creates competition at the strong-side linebacker spot, but also allows the Packers to use both he and Poppinga in various roles. He will compete with Poppinga for the starting job, but the Packers have the option of using Poppinga as a pass rusher, a role they have experimented with from time to time in the past.
The Packers remain committed to Poppinga and have engaged in talks about a contract extension. If he loses his job to Chillar, he would still be a big part of the special teams and a potential pass rush specialist. Poppinga was a DE for most of his career at BYU and has pass-rushing ability.
In addition to Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Poppinga and Chillar, the Packers have at linebacker Tracy White, Desmond Bishop and Abdul Hodge. Bishop and Hodge have made strides in their recovery from surgery on both knees.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio has received a record number of e-mails in response to his controversial column about retired quarterback Brett Favre, with the majority coming from angry Packers fans.
In response to a column by Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause that appeared online and in print today, Paolantonio sent this letter to the editor via e-mail: "Thank you for Mike Vandermause's smackdown of my espn.com column on Brett Favre. But I take issue with one major point: I was not trying to criticize Brett Favre, only offer some healthy perspective, provide an alternative take. Favre, as I pointed out, is a bonafide first ballot Hall of Famer. But I just wanted to hit the pause button on the over-the-top deification of No. 4.
In my view, he is not even the greatest Packers quarterback of all time. That would be Bart Starr. Bart Starr has always been treated like Ringo Starr -- underappreciated and, these days, overlooked. I was trying to provide some historical context that my brethren in the media often ignores. By the way, I do use a hairblower, but I never bring it to the press box with me."
For the record, Sal Pal included Favre as one of the most overrated players in NFL history, coming out with this story only days after he retired. While the media from around the country was honoring Favre's achievements and giving praise to his storied career, Sal Pal was bashing Favre in the media spotlight.
I truely hope Sal gets a Packer game assignment so the people of Wisconsin can give him a warm welcome. As for Sal's email, it is not published, or believe me I would post it. If I do find it, I will post it and hope all readers would email Sal to at the least express their disgust for his disrespect to a legend.
Monday, March 17, 2008
March Madness is in full affect. The state of Wisconsin will be sending 2 teams to the big dance. The #3 Wisconsin Badgers (29-4) are tipping off on Thursday against #14 Cal State-Fullerton (24-8) in the Midwest Regional. Cal State tied for first in the Big West, then won its conference title as the third seed by beating UC Irvine in the title game. The Titans are making their first NCAA appearance in 30 years. If UW wins that game, it could face sixth-seeded Southern California (21-11) and heralded freshman O.J. Mayo in the second round.
The Badgers are fresh off their Big Ten Tournament Championship over Illinois on Sunday. Bucky won the Big Ten title and conference tourney title this year. Needless to say their are high hopes for the Badgers this year. Head Coach Bo Ryan is a defensive mastermind controlling the tempo of a game and taking opponents out of their gameplan. Run and gun type teams like top seeded Kansas, Vanderbilt, or Georgetown could give the Badgers the most trouble if they can't contain them.
Marquette (24-9) is a #6 seed playing against #11 Kentucky (18-12). The Golden Eagles find themselves in the South region which includes such schools as Memphis, Texas, Standford, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State. Marquette is a dangerous team when playing well. They have one of the nations best back courts with Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews. When these guys are on and MU is rebounding, they can contend with any team in the Big Dance.
Last time Marquette faced the Wildcats was in the 2003 NCAA Championship when the Golden Eagles upset top-ranked Kentucky 83-69 to advance to the Final Four. They also had a player by the name of Dwayne Wade on that team. Marquette is 2-1 all-time as the No. 6 seed, last garnering the position in the 1994 tournament where they coincidentally knocked off a third-ranked Kentucky squad in the Second Round, 76-53.
Lets hope our hometown teams can make some noise in the Tourney. Best of luck to the Badgers and the Golden Eagles/Warriors/Hilltoppers
The Packers resigned special teams monster and backup LB Tracey White to a 2 year 1.8 million dollar contract with a $250,000 bonus.
The Pittsburgh Steelers made an offer to White too but sounds like Green Bay had more incentives in their contract.
"The main thing is, I've got to get to the Pro Bowl," White told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I've got unfinished business. I think I've got an excellent opportunity. I think they know that I'm like the special-teams guy."
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
GREEN BAY -- The Green Bay Packers' free-agent foray hasn't grabbed many headlines -- that little announcement last week about one of their players retiring got most of the attention, for some unknown reason -- but general manager Ted Thompson and his staff aren't sitting out the signing period.
So far, the team has played host to three free agents: Detroit Lions defensive end Corey Smith, St. Louis Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar, and the latest, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Quinn Gray on Monday and Tuesday.
The Packers are in the market for a veteran backup to new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the wake of Brett Favre's retirement last week.
The Packers were also set to bring Cincinnati wide receiver/returner Tab Perry to Lambeau Field for a meet-'n'-greet on Tuesday.
Gray played in eight games (starting four) in place of an injured David Garrard last season for the Jaguars, completing 80 of 144 passes (55.6) for 986 yards, with 10 touchdowns, five interceptions and 10 sacks for a passer rating of 85.6. He also ran 19 times for 57 yards. The Packers saw him in person in the preseason, when he was 3-for-5 for 44 yards and an 88.8 rating in an exhibition game in Green Bay on Aug. 23.
The 6-foot-3, 254-pound Gray turns 29 on May 21 and entered the league as an undrafted free agent from Florida A&M in 2003. He is expected to visit the Oakland Raiders after his trip to Green Bay, according to a report on the NFL Network.
Story courtesy of Jason Wilde, Wisconsin State Journal
Monday, March 10, 2008
Your Wisconsin Badgers have won the Big Ten Championship in Men's Basketball. UW beat Northwestern on Saturday 65-52 to clinch the title outright after Purdue lost to Indiana earlier in the week.
The Badgers also jumped 2 spots from 8 to 6 in the Coaches poll. UW will play the winner of the Michigan vs Iowa game in the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers are the #1 seed and also get a first round bye taking on the winner of Thursday' game. UW will play on Friday at 11.
The Big Ten title and a deep run in their conference tourney could make the Badgers a #2 seed for the NCAA tourney. A loss early could drop them to a #3 or even a #4 seed.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Brett Favre held his retirement news conference yesterday. He teared up and was very emotional. If you watched it, man or woman, I don't know how you could not feel the same and water up yourself.
Favre answered a lot of questions we had, and put to rest a lot of issues that were floating around since the news came out. First and foremost, the Packers did everything they could and showed a lot of interest in having Brett back in 2008. A lot of reports were surfacing saying Packers GM Ted Thompson did not want him and drove him out of town. Let the record show, "From the heart", there was nothing Green Bay could have done to keep him. That also includes the Randy Moss issue.
Favre is tired. He's put in his all and giving this organization and the fans everything he's got. "Football is not just the 3 hours on Sunday." The work that needs to be put in from week to week was mentally and physically draining.
He also laid the rest any questions about him going to another team. Brett will always be a Green Bay Packer period. Moving on. He will NEVER be on this list of players who decided not to hang it up, but should have:
New York Mets' Willie Mays
Los Angeles Rams' Joe Namath
Boston Braves' Babe Ruth
San Diego Chargers' Johnny Unitas
Seattle Seahawks' Jerry Rice
Toronto Raptors' Hakeem Olajawon
Montreal Expos' Pete Rose
Seattle Seahawks' Franco Harris
Charlotte Hornets' Robert Parrish
Arizona Cardinals' Emmitt Smith
Orlando Magic's Patrick Ewing
San Francisco 49ers' O.J. Simpson
Los Angeles Lakers' Karl Malone
Best of luck to Favre in retirement. He has given everything and then some to the fans and to the Green Bay Packers. I am grateful to have been able to watch him from 1992 to now. There never will be another like him and his legend lives on. We'll see you later Brett.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The records Brett Favre takes with him into retirement include: touchdown passes (442), passing yards (61,655), attempts (8,758), completions (5,377) wins by a starting quarterback (160), consecutive starts by a quarterback (253, 275 if you include the playoff games) and most MVP awards (3).
Still, those numbers are woefully inadequate in measuring the man. His accomplishments as a quarterback might be quantifiable, but his virtues are not. There's a reason Brett Favre is regarded as a kind of national treasure, that the affection directed his way violates all demographic suppositions, cutting across all the usual divides of race, class, sex and geography. The American People, a much-abused term, can agree on the subject of Favre's overriding virtue: He defied time.
He stayed young doing a job that renders men prematurely old and broken. Until the very end, even his flaws remained those of a young man. At 38, there were still moments when he had the judgment of a 22-year-old, which is to say, an unreasonably bullheaded belief in himself. Consider his final pass, an errant one thrown on January 20 in sub-zero temperatures at Lambeau Field in overtime of the NFC Championship Game.
Earlier that day, Favre had victimized Giants cornerback Corey Webster for a 90-yard touchdown. But now it was the quarterback's turn to play the sucker, as Webster recognized the veteran committing a rookie mistake, telegraphing his pass down the sideline. The cornerback waited forever on that interception. "It felt like a century until that ball arrived," said Webster.
Well, perhaps not a literal century, but certainly, a long time coming. Even in defeat, Favre had an ability to slow the clock. Corey Webster was 10 years old when Favre made his first start for the Green Bay Packers. That was September 27, 1992, also an election year. An upstart governor from Arkansas was running against George Bush the Elder. South Africa was still under white rule. The cell phone was an oddity. The internet was, for most people, still a secret.
No game ages men as mercilessly as professional football, which systematically inflicts orthopedic and neurological ruin on its most dedicated performers. Quarterbacks, whose success depends on an ability to take the blindside hit, are the most vulnerable. Again, it's worth repeating the words of Joe Namath, who on the eve of Super Bowl III declared: "The name of the game is 'kill the quarterback."
So it was. So it shall ever be. Game plans are devoted to the quarterback's destruction. But across all those years, Favre proved indestructible. Or something like it. His consecutive game streak is to be regarded as a singular accomplishment, even more extraordinary than Cal Ripken's.
Ripken was never body slammed by Reggie White. You may recall the play, back in '92. Favre was making only his seventh start when White crunched him into the turf, a deliberate attempt to remove him from the game.
"That's his job," said Favre, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.
In the interest of symmetry, recall Favre's more recently separated shoulder just this past season. It was Week 13 against the Cowboys. In between those two shoulder injuries, he survived more concussions than he'd care to admit (a half dozen by the time he was 27), five surgeries, turf toe, an arthritic condition in his hip, bone chips in his left ankle and fractured vertebrae. In college, he had 30 inches of intestine removed after a car wreck. He also played through emotional trauma — the death of his father and the diagnosis of his wife, Deanna, with breast cancer (now in apparent remission).
All that, and he still played like a kid. So remember Corey Webster's interception if you must, but nor should you forget a play from the previous week. It was third and eight. The Packers were playing the Seahwawks in the divisional playoffs. Favre had been flushed from the pocket and stumbled. Still, he managed to keep his footing, and more than that, his composure. For most quarterbacks, these would be desperate moments. But for Favre, even at 38, they were full of possibility. As he fell, he flipped the ball to his tight end for a first down.
And when was the last time you saw something like that?
When you were a kid.
Story from Mark Kriegel of Foxsports.com
That's right, the end of the line. Favre decides to hang it up after 17 years in the league.
After flirting with retirement for the last few years, Favre will finally go out on the heels of one of the best seasons of his career.
He led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game after passing for a stunning 4,155 yards, looking very much at times like a younger version of himself. In addition he threw 28 TDs — including an overtime Hail Mary pass to beat Denver in front of a national audience — and had a 95.7 quarterback rating. He was also voted into the Pro Bowl following the 2007 season but declined to go.
Favre leaves the game as the all-time record holder in several categories including wins, passing yards, touchdowns and consecutive games started. A three-time MVP, The southern swashbuckler won fans over with his carefree style that epitomized the "gunslinger" moniker and made fans out of everyone from the guy next door to those already enshrined in Canton.
If in fact, Favre does not have a change of heart, his final pass of a Hall of Fame Career was an interception by the Giants' Corey Webster, setting up New York's overtime win in the NFC title game.
Fox's Jay Glazer broke the story.
Monday, March 3, 2008
The Packers have not signed any Free Agents yet, which comes as no surprise to fans. Ted Thompson does not like to get involved in the initial days of free agency. Teams usually over pay and throw crazy money around. Thompson waits patiently for the dust to settle, and begins his process of speaking with the second tier free agents still out there.
This year, the Pack have a few guys on their radar. TE's Ben Troupe, Bryan Fletcher and Ben Utecht. Several Linebackers such as Brandon Chillar (Rams), and Boss Bailey (Lions)are also gaining strong interest. Chillar is expected to receive a strong push from his visit with Arizona, and Bailey is expected to visit with the Broncos. They could both be off the market this week, without a visit to Green Bay.
Bailey would be a great addition to the Packers LB core. He ran the fastest 40 yard dash in 2003 at the Combine (4.58)for Linebackers, and he still can fly. The only knock on Bailey is his chronic knee problems that plagued him early in his career. He's been relatively healthy the past two years only missing 1 game in that span, however he's considered a two down back. That wouldn't been a problem for the Packers, who primarily use AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett.
Another story with ties to Green Bay is Randy Moss. The circus from last year involving Moss, might be stirring up again. Moss is unhappy with the Patriots contract offer and is actually looking elsewhere. He is still interested in Green Bay, primarily because of Brett Favre. But are the Packers interested in him??? That remains the question. The Packers have absolutely no need for a WR, especially one that would require significant playing time. This is someones "pipe dream", that WILL never happen.