A couple blowhards were yakking it up on ESPN Radio late Saturday morning and they were going on (and on) about the Super Bowl photo flap. I remember driving down Oneida Street to the stadium thinking, "Why are they bringing this garbage up? It's over and done with."
So, about an hour later, there was Aaron Rodgers standing at his locker, answering a rather innocent question about the 15 players on injured reserve by questioning why some of them have been doing all of their rehab away from their teammates.
Rodgers is a smart guy. Not much comes out of his mouth that he hasn't given full consideration to beforehand. At the end of the day, none of this will mean a thing when the game's kicked off. But just as Nick Barnett and Jermichael Finley were wrong to take their original complaints public on Twitter, Rodgers was foolish to reopen this can of worms — a can that no doubt will be dumped on his lap during Tuesday's Media Day.
Photogate, The Conclusion?
Has Barnett Tweeted his way out of town?
When general manager Ted Thompson locked up Desmond Bishop late in the season, the Packers had four inside linebackers under contract for hefty salaries. Brandon Chillar is signed through 2013, Barnett through 2012 and A.J. Hawk through 2011 at a whopping $10 million.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is a clever guy and depth is obviously a good thing, but four inside linebackers seems like one too many. Assuming a new deal can be worked out with Hawk, there's little reason to break up the starting duo that has led the Packers to the Super Bowl. Chillar is a competent situational player and special-teams guy. That leaves Barnett, who's always been a very good player but never has been a dominant force. Based on nothing but my barely educated guess, Barnett's griping might be the tipping point on who stays and who goes.
In the overhead bin
Coach Mike McCarthy is packing some of the game plan in his briefcase to be installed in Dallas next week, with between 90 percent and 95 percent of the plan being put in place in Green Bay this week.
"It's more of a mind-set, because I think it's important for our football team not to feel that they're on a sprint all the way up until the game," McCarthy said. "It's a process. We talk about trusting your process, as far as our preparation leading up to the time for performance, and with the Super Bowl schedule, you have more preparation time. By no means do I want our football team to feel that we're sprinting into this game, because I don't have any doubt that our energy level, the excitement and drive and everything will be there. I don't want to leave anything on the practice field. I think it's important, particularly in our situation because we're a tempo offense and a tempo philosophy as far as the way we want to play, I don't want to do too much on the practice field."
Four quarters to go
Aaron Rodgers and Brandon Jennings at Saturday's Bucks game.
Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images
"I think it's excitement," Rodgers said. "This is what we dream about as kids, and also what we talked about starting March 16 this season. We talked about this being the ultimate goal. It's a long way off, a light way far off in the tunnel at the time, but it's been a great season, a lot of ups and downs. I think this team has grown a lot in character, there's a lot of resilient guys in here, we grew together, became a really tight-knit group and it's been a great journey. And hopefully we can finish it off the right way."
He's got bling
Only one Packers player has a Super Bowl ring — John Kuhn, who won his with Pittsburgh. Kuhn's position coach, Edgar Bennett, won one as the top running back for the Super Bowl XXXI champions.
"Just the overall experience of it, playing in it, being surrounded by your teammates," Bennett told Packer Report for a feature that will run next week. "It's just one of those memorable moments to have that opportunity to play in one after watching it for so many years on the TV. You kind of go in your backyard and you emulate some of your favorite players form back in the day. To finally get an opportunity to play in one, it was just a tremendous experience."
A hunch from Tunch
Tunch Ilkin played tackle for the Steelers from 1980 through 1992 but closed his career with Green Bay in 1993. Ilkin talked to my colleague in Pittsburgh, Jim Wexell.
"On the surface, their defense is a lot like ours. They just don't play the run as well as we do. They're not as physical, as tough a defense as the Steelers are. I think this defense is really tough. As good as the Packers are – and Charles Woodson's a dynamic player; so is Clay Matthews – I think this defense has more guys that scare you. I think you've got to block Clay Matthews, and Charles Woodson brings all sorts of blitzes, but there are five guys on this defense that scare you. There are five guys on this defense, at least, that can knock you out. So I think that's one of the advantages we have. We play the run better. We run the ball better. Those are two areas, and I think they're going to impact the Super Bowl."
Reprogram the Garmin
McCarthy, on a Super Bowl championship possibly giving him the equivalent of Lombardi Avenue or Holmgren Way: "I wouldn't turn it down, I'll say that. But I know that is something that is very special and unique in our community. I have driven down Holmgren Way plenty of times."
Ryan Pickett, on 241-pound Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: "No, that is not fair. That should be illegal, man. Once you beat a guy, there's still no guarantee that you're going to even come close to getting the quarterback down."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.