Setting the Scene with Flynn and Tolzien

The scene from the locker room on Wednesday perfectly summed up the quarterback merry-go-round the Packers have endured this season. With reporters swarming around the new faces — and ignoring Aaron Rodgers — Scott Tolzien talks about a "wild couple weeks" and Matt Flynn talks about having nothing to prove.

The scene in the Green Bay Packers' locker room on Wednesday was, to say the least, bizarre.

A horde of reporters and cameras were gathered around the locker of Scott Tolzien, who wasn't even at his stall. Meanwhile, sitting just a couple feet to the right, all alone, was Aaron Rodgers.

You know, the former Super Bowl and NFL MVP. He was none of those things on this day. He was Mr. Invisible, struggling with his shirt because of a broken collarbone.

Later, the horde was split in two. Tolzien held court on one end of the locker room while the new quarterback — the new-old quarterback? — Matt Flynn talked simultaneously at the other end.

It's been years since either quarterback had garnered this much attention. For Tolzien, it was with Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl almost three years ago. For Flynn, it was after his six-touchdown, six-comeback, money-making performance against Detroit almost two years ago.

"Definitely never expected to be back here in this locker room," said Flynn, his stall located between those of running backs James Starks and Johnathan Franklin rather than with the other quarterbacks.

The bizarre setting of the locker room fits perfectly with the bizarre circumstances surrounding this season. From Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman to Vince Young and Seneca Wallace, the Packers' quarterback platoon for Sunday's huge game against the New York Giants consists of Tolzien and Flynn.

"It has been a wild couple weeks, but it's part of the job, part of the business," Tolzien said. "The focus remains the same, though. It was the same whether I was practice squad in the (auxiliary) locker room back there or here. You really try to make the most of each day, they all count, whether it's Week 9 of the season or 17th day of training camp."

After leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, Tolzien went undrafted in 2011. He was released at the end of training camp by the Chargers and joined the 49ers before Week 1. Short on knowledge of the playbook and short on cash, Tolzien literally lived in the 49ers' complex for his first couple weeks in San Francisco.

"I was working late hours there and they had a nice couch there, some nice TVs, so I figured why not?" Tolzien said matter-of-factly. "I wasn't getting much sleep at that point. It made it more convenient."

Tolzien spent 2011 and 2012 with the 49ers. When he was released at the end of training camp this summer, the Packers swooped in. While outsiders thought Tolzien was signed only to provide some intel on their Week 1 opponent, the Packers had bigger plans.

"I recall Ted Thompson and I going down (to Wisconsin's pro day) workout that year," coach Mike McCarthy said. "That was a very good class coming out. You always kind of watch those guys and see how they're doing. During training camp this year, we were looking at other quarterbacks on tape and, frankly, he had really good preseason tape. There was an evaluation process that we felt good about when the opportunity came for us to get him in here. We were fortunate to get him on our practice squad."

McCarthy couldn't have imagined how fortunate.

Flynn, too, was talking about his good fortune. He made a fortune off of that game against Detroit in 2011, plus his near-upset of New England in 2010. But he couldn't beat out Russell Wilson in Seattle in 2012 or Terrelle Pryor in Oakland in 2013. When he lasted just a few weeks in Buffalo, Flynn was 0-for-3.

"I feel very fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity, but looking back at the last year-and-a-half, last two seasons, definitely didn't go the way I planned on it, for whatever reason that was," Flynn said. "But I have no regrets about it. I feel like I worked my tail off everywhere I went, controlled what I could control and things just didn't work out."

Flynn had been scheduled to work out for the Packers on Monday, anyway, but the urgency of that workout changed when Seneca Wallace injured his groin on the first series of Sunday's game against Philadelphia.

Who knows what happens from here. Perhaps Tolzien will be the new Flynn and serve as Rodgers' backup for the next few years. Or, perhaps Flynn will get his shot and, ultimately, earn another shot to start somewhere down the line.

"To me, I don't feel like I need anything," Flynn said after the horde had gone. "I'm the same guy. I'm the same guy. I believe – I know – that I can play in this league. I know a lot of people out there that don't think I can or don't believe I'm a good quarterback. Frankly, I don't really care about what people say. I know I can play. Whatever's happened in the past, you move on from it. You move on from anything negative that happened. Things didn't work out for whatever reason in my previous places but I'm just coming in here and coming back to a familiar spot. This is kind of home for me. I'm looking at learning more about football, looking at improving myself and trying to help this team. You come back here and see all the familiar faces, it makes you want to get back to work."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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