Stills joins

Ken Stills to offer his insight on Packers

Editor's note: Former Packers safety Ken Stills will be contributing a weekly column after each game on Stills played for the Packers from 1985 through 1989. He is currently an assistant coach with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe. We look forward to Ken's insight on the NFL and the Packers.

My NFL career began in 1985 when the Packers drafted me in the 8th round out of the University of Wisconsin. I was an all-Big Ten cornerback with the Badgers but the Packers moved me to strong safety, the position I played my first year with the Badgers.

I was the Packers' final cut in 1985 but was called back during the fourth week of the season due to injuries in the Packers' defensive backfield. I was re-signed as a back-up but due to an injury to Tom Flynn during practice, the Packers' first-team safety at the time, I ended up starting my first NFL game on Monday Night Football versus the Chicago Bears.

Within three weeks I was permanently moved into the starting lineup and held that position until I left the team via free agency to play with the Minnesota Vikings in 1989. I was the Vikings' starting free safety until 1991 when I tore my right Gastrocnemius muscle, and injury that ended my career. After my retirement I went back to the University of Wisconsin in 1991 and completed my bachelor's degree in communications in 1993. I am single and live in San Diego, Calif., with my 13-year-old son, Kenny Jr. I am currently a defensive backs and special teams coach for the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe. Additionally, I am an NFL scout for NFL Europe. I have been with the Galaxy since 2001. Prior to my employment with the Galaxy I spent time as the defensive backs coach with Palomar Junior College and the running backs/tight ends coach with the Los Angeles Extreme of the XFL where we won the XFL Championship in 2002.

My philosophies relative to football, based on my experiences as a player and coach, revolve around a team-first principle. No one player makes an entire team, only the combined efforts of each player, with the team concept as the number one priority, will make a great team. All the teams I have been involved with as a player or a coach have succeeded based on that principle.

Additionally, work ethic separates an average player from a great player, not talent. I have seen many talented players over the course of my career who were blessed with God-given talent but fell short of their goals due to their lack of a good work ethic.

Football has changed a great deal since I started playing the game in 1971. As the game is played today, many players will question the authority of a coach. This is a principle that is the opposite of what I was taught, a principle that revolved around the integrity of the game and respect for authority. The game of football has taught me more about life principles than any other experiences I've encountered. Discipline, teamwork, goals, and work ethic are all aspects of the game that I've been able to apply all areas of my life.

The attitude of today's professional athlete revolves more around a "me" principle in addition to the financial aspects of the game. More and more we see athletes that do not report to camp due to contract disagreements which directly conflicts with the team concept. More and more athletes seek the financial rewards offered through free-agency, practically eliminating the fan's ability to identify a particular athlete with a specific team. There used to be a time when the fan could identify a majority of players on a given team as "their" team. Now, only a handful of players per team are recognizable as the heart and soul of that team. Gone are the days when a Packers fan could identify "his or her" team as Starr, Nitschke, Thurston, Wood, Gregg, Long, McGee, and Kramer.

On the flip side, today's game is much more demanding from a physical standpoint as players have become bigger, stronger, and faster. The strategical aspects of the game are more complicated and the demands put on the athletes are greater due to the combination of these characteristics. Football in the NFL is now a tremendous business where salaries have become exorbitant and jobs have become much less secure. As the demand for a winner has become paramount, the demands on the players has increased two-fold. This, in turn, seems to justify a player's concern for his own well being relative to commanding financial compensation that will secure that player for a lifetime. So, the question is, is it even possible to re-create how it used to be, or are we simply to evolve as fans in the same way the game has evolved?

For the next eleven weeks on, I will give you my insight, as a former player and current coach, to the in's and out's of football in the NFL and how today's game has evolved to what it is now. I will give you my evaluations of each position on the field from a player's perspective, my opinions as a current professional coach, as well as my perspective from your point of view, the fan.

I look forward to being a part of "Titletown USA" again and giving you my reflections on an organization that allowed me to live my childhood dream as an NFL football player with what I feel is the greatest franchise in NFL history!

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