An Open Letter to Mike McKenzie

Dear Mike,<p> It's time to come home. It's time to return to your family. Your family has had it's share of tragedy over the last year or so. First, WR coach Ray Sherman's son Ray II died in a tragic gun accident.

Then, just as the team was in their stretch run last year, a day before a Monday Night football game in Oakland, Brett Favre's dad Irv passed away. Finally, just a week or so ago, Mark Hatley, the VP of Football Operations for the Packers died at the too young age of 54. In each case, the Packers family came together to help comfort the real families involved with those losses. It's now time for you to really assess your priorities.

Losing a loved one is difficult to deal with. It sort of puts 4th and 26 in perspective. It also makes a contract squabble look very small in comparison. Mike, you agreed to a contract a couple of years back. You gave up a potentially bigger deal down the road for the security of that agreement. There are CBs in the NFL that are not as good as you getting paid more than you earn. So what? I could say the same thing about Brett Favre, Ahman Green and several other teammates. I also know that players want to get as much money as they can in a sport like Pro Football because a career ending injury can happen at any time. That being said, put the money issues or whatever other issues you have with the Packers on the back burner. It is time to get back on the field to help the squad get to the Super Bowl.

The 2004 Green Bay Packers have a real chance to be in Jacksonville in February 2005 playing for the Lombardi trophy. The offense returns all the starters and look to be even better than last year's explosive unit. Brett Favre will hopefully be healthy all season long and young WRs like Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson will only get better. The offensive line is the best in the NFL, and the rnning game behind Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher is second to none. The defensive squad has added some much needed depth to all areas, but especially the defensive line and defensive backfield. Young CBs Ahman Carroll and Joey Thomas look to have bright futures. Mark Roman adds some stability to the S position. You are the missing link. The team won't have to accelerate the learning curve for Carroll and Thomas if you come back. The two rookies could learn a lot from you. In 1999 you came to the Packers under similar circumstances. You ended up starting your rookie year and intercepting 6 passes. The lessons you learned would be of tremendous value to the young pups trying to learn a position that is one of the most difficult in the NFL.

Mike, you have been a very good player for the Green Bay Packers. You have also been an outstanding citizen. You and your teammates have never been closer to reaching the promised land of being NFL champs. It's time to put all of your differences with the Packers aside. It's time to come home and let those issues get worked out. The team needs you. The Packer organization has come together in times of tragedy. The team now needs you back to help the Packer family regain the elite status that the organization desires. Mike, you probably aren't flashing your trademark smile right now.

But when you are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, I know that smile will be bigger than ever. The Packers have had enough tears recently. The team needs your smile. The team needs your best effort. Come home, and help your family bring home the Lombardi Trophy from Jacksonville in February.

– Bob Fox is a freelance writer from Tampa, Fla.

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