Talk about an overblown non-story. Allegedly, the Packers weren't going to allow the players on injured reserve to pose for the team's official Super Bowl photo. Whether that wasn't the final decision, as the team claims, or it felt the heat, it turns out that the 14.6 million Packers on injured reserve will be in the team photo. The photographer better bring his wide-angle lens.
Rodgers plays defense
Jay Cutler has come under fire from countless players/fans/closet doctors for the knee injury that ended his NFC Championship Game in the third quarter.
"I was real disappointed, to be honest with you," Aaron Rodgers said. "I've known Jay for a few years now and know what kind of competitor he is. I thought it was disrespectful, some of the stuff said about him. I admire his teammates. I saw Chris Harris' interview on ESPN. I thought the questioning was ridiculous of him. To attack a guy's toughness, when you're not playing in the game, especially, I thought was very inappropriate."
Super Bowl quarterbacks
While Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger is aiming to be a three-time Super Bowl champion, Rodgers will play playing for his first NFL title. Thus, Rodgers is embracing advice.
"Kurt Warner's been a great friend, really since I was drafted. And so I reached out to him about any advice he can give me this week, and the next week, it's readily appreciated. I'm sure there will be more conversations with him. I talked to a number of buddies who played in the Super Bowl before, and I think it's important to learn from their experiences and try and find ways to stay focused. I'm sure it's going to be controlled chaos down there."
Dome sweet dome
Green Bay's offense has been a high-flying group in the great indoors. So, count Greg Jennings as one very happy man that the Super Bowl will be played with the roof closed on Cowboys Stadium.
"That's all I can do is smile," Jennings said. "I mean, you go from playing in Chicago in January, late January, to Dallas and they close you inside a dome. You can't do anything but smile. Obviously, the surface is going to be perfect. The atmosphere is going to be unmatched. You can just smile. It's going to be exciting. Obviously, we play well inside. But in a game like this, game of this magnitude, it didn't matter if we had to play in the park. Guys are going to bring their ‘A' game and guys are going to come well prepared."
Jerry's World is marred by the football equivalent of a windmill on a putt-putt course with that oversized scoreboard hovering over midfield for punters to avoid. The punters will get to work inside the stadium for a day as well as before the game.
"There will be a discussion about it," special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "We will identify whether or not it's an issue. We have the opportunity to go into the stadium prior to the game and actually kick. We typically punt the ball toward the sideline, and that thing's right down the middle. So I don't know if it's going to affect us much."
President Obama and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Woodson signed a No. 21 jersey for President Obama, who was in Wisconsin to pitch his economic plan on Wednesday. Obama had said he'd go to the Super Bowl if his Bears could beat the Packers. Thus, Woodson's jersey read, "To President Obama. See you at the White House. Go Packers!"
"I voted for him. So, why is he not a Green Bay fan?" Woodson said. "So, that was really the thinking behind it. I jumped on his bandwagon a couple years ago and voted for him. So, for him to only go to the Super Bowl because Chicago was there, I thought it's not fair to me. I'm a voter. I'm a taxpayer. So, I want him to root for the Packers, as well."
Woodson was impressed by how the Steelers rallied past Baltimore 31-24 after the Ravens had a 21-7 edge in the first half.
"I think probably all of you guys and anybody else who watched, if you see the Baltimore Ravens with a lead like that, they're not going to lose the game."
Donald Driver will be a huge story nationally next week. Driver will turn 36 just four days before the Super Bowl — one day before Tuesday's Media Day — and the 12th-year pro finally has reached the big game.
"He means a lot to this team, not only to this team but to this organization. What he brings to the table is unmatched," Jennings said. "You can't supplement for a guy like that. You can't take a piece like that out and kind of just plug a piece in. His veteran leadership, his game smarts, his football IQ — I mean, all of those intangibles, they're hard to duplicate. Obviously, emotionally, there's a lot of things running through his mind; but at the same time, he understands that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he's trying to come away with a win as we all are."
Hot and hotter
Last year, the Packers roared into the playoffs by winning seven of their final eight games, with the only loss at Pittsburgh. But, they lost in the wild-card round 51-45 to the Cardinals. This year, they had to win their last two games just to get to the party.
"I just think the urgency level was up for everybody," Rodgers said. "Once I came back from my injury, we were 8-6. We knew we had to beat the Giants, beat the Bears. And I think there was a focus, an urgency in the locker room that we didn't want to let this great opportunity pass us by.
"Last year really felt like we were the hottest team, the best team going to the playoffs, and we made too many mistakes against Arizona and they beat us. We felt like we had a Super Bowl team last year. And I think this season, after the Eagles had a dramatic win against the Giants, we realized that our destiny was right in front of us. We just had to win two games, and I don't think the guys wanted to let that opportunity go. As much as we had to deal with adversity this season and losing guys, we had a number of guys step up who we didn't expect to play big roles. And we still had a ton of playmakers. We just didn't want to let this opportunity slip away."
A shield against receivers
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers on Sunday's hero, Sam Shields: "I think it's a credit to Joe Whitt. I think Joe's done a great job of coaching Sam. From the first day Sam came in, he was very serious, very professional about his job. You could see his speed and athletic ability, and then the question is always, how is he going to respond, you know, when you put him under the bright lights out there.
"But every day in practice he'd make a play. You'd kind of look and say you really like what you saw. You didn't want to get too excited. And then when you go back through the preseason games, he would make a play in every preseason game that would catch your eye. So, we decided, let's put the young man with talent out there, and he's going to get better as the season goes on. That's exactly what's happened. He's improved tremendously from Game 1 back in Philly to what you saw in the championship game. He played a tremendous game in the championship game."
Clay Matthews inked a one-year deal to pitch Unilever's Suave brand of shampoo — apparently, the folks at Suave are fans of comedian/Packer Report Magazine columnist Mike McDonald. Matthews is following in the footsteps of fellow USC standout Troy Polamalu, who is the pitchman for Procter & Gamble's Head & Shoulders. More than likely, one of those two will be a hero in the Super Bowl. Or would that be a hair-o?
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.