Sydney Speaks! Q&A with Packer fans

Former Green Bay Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney gives his take to questions submitted recently by Packers fans. Today, Sydney writes about Grady Jackson and how greedy athletes are giving the game of football a black eye:

Enjoy your stuff very much. My take on the Grady Jackson holdout situation is:

- Great nose tackle when he's on the field and seems like a good leader off the field;

- Has been out for various parts of the last two years and is starting to remind me of Gilbert Brown - great when he plays, but unfortunately can't count on when he plays;

- Is starting to get a bit older so durability will only get worse;

- Based on the above, I'd try to make a small accommodation on his contract but would not give very much guaranteed money and be prepared to let him sit out.

What's your view?
Jeff P.

Harry says: Jeff, you are right. When Jackson plays he plays hard and brings it, but like you said, we don't know when that will be. Yes, people want to compare him to Gilbert but the difference is that Gilbert knows how to win and Grady thinks he does.

As an organization the Packers can't give in, even if they wanted to because it would open the flood gates. Everyone wants more money but few deserve it. Grady, like Walker, must wait their turn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First, let me say that I really enjoy your honesty in your new column. It's a breath of fresh air. That being said, will the Packers ever be able to land top-notch free agents like they did in the early to mid-1990s? I understand that Ted Thompson prefers to build through the draft but, if you remember, a big part of out 1996 Super Bowl team was free agent acquisitions (Reggie White, Santana Dotson, Sean Jones, Eugene Robinson, Andre Rison, Keith Jackson, etc.). Will the Packers ever put themselves back in the market for proven big play-makers? Thank for your thoughts.

Marcus Kleinhans, Dallas,TX (Formerly of Chilton, WI)

Harry says: Marcus, I agree with you. People want to say Thompson likes to build thru the draft, but the Packers' Super Bowl team was constructed through the free agent market like you have mentioned. The problem is that the mystique of Lambeau has died. Packer fans want to believe that because Bart Starr or Brett Favre or Reggie White played here why wouldn't everyone want to? Unfortunately, times are different. It's about the money and the market. What can the city do to enhance a player's career away from football?

Hey, Harry,
Here we go again - now Grady is threatening a hold out. What is going on? Did you ever have to deal with anything like this in your playing days?

What effect will these holdouts have on the chemistry of the team? Can't be good. There were other players who also had great years last year, perhaps better than what their contract pay may dictate, who could have easily chosen to also "hold out" for more money, but they are not. Is this just the "Rosenhaus effect" or could we see more players pulling this same thing? Conversely, when will we see those players who DIDN'T play to the level of their contracts (see Cletidus Hunt) have their pay lowered, seems only fair to me!!
Jeff D. - Kearney, NE

Harry says: Jeff, welcome to the world of greedy athletes who want everything for nothing. Yes, I dealt with them in my days, but things were different. There was no salary cap. You mess up, you get cut. You play good, you get rewarded. The effect was that everyone realized you are only as good as your last performance, so everyone had to be sharp or be gone. What does chemistry mean when everyone goes by different rules? And don't blame Rosenhaus because he works for them, not the other way around. There is "NO LOYALTY IN BUSINESS."

I was wondering if the NFL can do anything to Drew Rosenhaus. I read that Grady Jackson may be the next Rosenhaus client to hold out for a bigger contract. I can't help but be upset over this news.

Let me say I am one of the few people I know that is all for players getting big-dollar contracts. All the money involved in pro sports as a whole is just ridiculous. But the truth is every person that sits down to watch football watches their favorite team or players (who generate all this money) not their favorite team owner.

That being said I do believe their should be some accountability, meaning one year does not make you a premier player (Javon Walker) and just because you are big does not make you worth more (Grady Jackson).

Back to my main point, sorry just had to vent a little. Harry, I believe what Mr. Rosenhaus is doing is undermining the NFL. I know this sounds slanted because he represents Jackson, Walker,and Davenport. But look at Owens a year ago. He signed for 7 years 49 mil. Now he wants a new contract. Does the NFL have any recourse if they believe an agent is basically holding teams hostage? I support the Packers and the Eagles for hopefully holding ground. If these so-called "Marquee Players" want to sit out, I hope the teams involved allow this and eat the contract just to show the rest of the players this conduct will not be tolerated.

Harry, lets say in TO's case, do the Eagles own his playing rights for the next six years? If so, this would be great because by the time his contract expires he would not be worth a fraction of what he was worth.
Jim Chapman, Monona, WI (I Bleed Green and Gold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Harry says: Jim, yes the Eagles own TO's playing right for the next six seasons. Even if TO was to retire, the Eagles would still own them. As for Rosenhaus, he can't do anything the league doesn't let him. Trust me if the owners wanted to make it hard for him they could. Just remember the players he has under contract pay him. It's not the other way around.

Dear Mr. Sydney,
The ever-increasing salaries of professional athletes is one of the main reasons pro sports is doing a slow suicide. My wife and I have been retired for several years and we haven't been to a pro football game in ages, simply because we can't afford it!

In "Sydney Speaks" (July 8), one of your answers stated: "...unfortunately we really can't ask the players to do something for the team that the team doesn't do for them, and that's show loyalty."

"Loyalty?" The Packers don't show loyalty??? They took a flyer on nose tackle Grady Jackson after he was dumped by the Saints and they gave him a two-year, 2.31 million contract extension! All things considered, that's a lot more than he deserved, seeing as he's 32 years old and more than a tad injury-prone. I'd say the Packers, as well as most other teams, are more than loyal enough!

You also said, "...this isn't about playing and Super Bowls ... it's about money. They want to get paid - plain and simple... It's not just a Packer issue, it's a league and greed issue." Phooey!

Linemen make 200 times or more a year what they made back in the early to mid-sixties!! I remember Jerry Kramer of the Packers making something like $13,000 in 1962! He was an All-Pro guard and place-kicker for the Packers, and he made only $13,000 that year.

And just who is really being greedy? The players figure the owners are making the big bucks, so they should get more... and more... and more... I'd say there's too much greed by both the owners AND the players! Another sportswriter put the whole thing in perspective much better than I can. He makes some very good points and a lot of sense, Harry. Please take a few moments to read what sportswriter Tom Andrews had to say about all this:

We all got a good laugh from the famous scene in "Jerry McGuire" where the football player and the agent demand and get the huge NFL contract. That was funny. That was entertainment.

But what's happening in the real NFL today is neither funny nor entertaining. I'm not saying that players shouldn't demand and get contracts that fairly compensate them. It's a business and both they and the team have to look out for their own best interests. What I am saying is that contracts apparently aren't worth the paper they are printed on. I'm saying that once you get the deal you want and you feel is fair, play the game!

You don't try to leverage a brand new deal simply because you had one good or even great season. If you proclaim that you should be paid commensurate with your most recent performance, then why doesn't the same standard apply when you have an off-year? Be man enough to honor your contract. That's the way it is in the real world and why shouldn't the standard be the same in the world of professional sports?

Call me old-fashioned, if you like. I realize we can't bring back the "good old days" of Vince Lombardi and the iron fist negotiations which basically favored the team. There needed to be a more fair distribution of wealth among the players and it happened. Now, we're at the opposite extreme. The inmates are clearly running the asylum. Somewhere, somehow this bleeding has to be stopped. At some point a contract has to re-gain its meaning. You've got guys trying to re-work deals with two years remaining on the contract. You've got guys trying to disrupt team chemistry right from the get-go, skipping minicamps, skipping off-season conditioning programs and threatening to skip training camp.

It's funny how some of these same players talk about the need for "team unity" and to "pull together" when the team hits a bumpy road in the regular season. How can you have team unity when so many are apparently in this just for themselves? Team chemistry starts to build in minicamp and training camp. If you wait until the regular season starts, it's too late.

Nose tackle Grady Jackson's holdout is just the latest symptom of the disease that is sweeping the league. Why not negotiate in good faith -- quietly and professionally -- instead of starting off with this kind of threat? No doubt, Jackson has shown that he is valuable in plugging up the middle for Green Bay's defensive line. He's also proven that he has injury and weight problems. At 32, he is also a bit long in the tooth by NFL standards. What's more, the Packers took a flyer on him after the Saints dumped him. Is there no value in that? He got a two-year, $2.31 million contract extension. He got his deal re-structured at the end of last season. Then he got hurt and missed more than a month of action.

Should the Packers be concerned about his age, his ability to stay healthy and keep his weight in check? You bet! I think Jackson is a fine player but his negotiating stance appears weak. If the players can shout "Show me the money!" the team should rightfully be able to counter with, "Show me the contract!"

You talk about loyalty, Harry, but how about a little more integrity by the players when it comes to their contracts? Players work for the teams, not the other way around. If they don't like the way things are being done, let them buy their own teams and do what they think is right. I'm betting if they did that, their opinions and attitudes would change dramatically! Thanks for your time.
Fred Mueller, Kingman, AZ

Harry says: Fred, thanks for the insight but one thing you forgot is that just because a guy puts on an uniform and runs through a tunnel doesn't mean he's a man of character and integrity. Some guys are and to those I tip my hat, but we can't expect everyone to think that way.

Everyone has different agendas and it frustrates people that can't understand it. The world is a place where words such as integrity, loyalty and trust definitions are determined by who says them. And handshakes are replaced by contracts and good job means what's it worth. And everything is based on what have you done for me lately. No one determines their worth anymore on what they need. Instead, it's by what someone else got!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Submit questions for Harry Sydney to managing editor Todd Korth at Include your name, city and state. Sydney will answer questions each Friday on

Questions also can be submitted by fax at (920) 497-7227, or by conventional mail: Packer Report, "Sydney Speaks!" 2121 S. Oneida St., Green Bay, WI 54304.

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