Sherman: Chemistry key to super season

Optimism over the upcoming season drips through most National Football League teams like sweat off a uniform during practice on a hot August afternoon. Optimism among Green Bay Packers fans, players, personnel and coaches for a championship season this year is as bright as ever.

Mike Sherman, in his annual state of the Packers address to the state media on Wednesday, warned that the Packers will only win as much as players and coaches function as a team. The third-year head coach and general manager pointed to the New England Patriots and how they worked together to achieve the ultimate reward in pro football – a Super Bowl ring.

That's why Sherman says he will be keeping an especially close eye, like he always has, on team chemistry as it unfolds in the Packers' spanking new football facilities.

"My biggest goal this season is going to be the locker room, make sure the locker room has a group of men in there that understands that the chemistry of this football team is of utmost importance," Sherman said. "Unselfishness and being committed to Green Bay Packer team goals is critical to us. If we take care of the locker room, winning games takes care of itself."

The Packers moved into their new, plush facilities last week. Many of the players will report today for training camp. Full-squad practices begin this Saturday.

Sherman has always been big on chemistry, and so far his approach to team unity has translated into winning seasons (9-7 in 2000, 12-4 in 2001, plus 1-1 in playoffs). Besides describing how the Patriots won the Super Bowl with team unity last year despite long odds at the beginning of the season, Sherman reflected on the team's four-game winning streak to end the 2000 season as a prime example of how solid team chemistry translates into victories.

"It was a great run in Packers history in my mind, "Sherman said. "... I'll never forget that. It was a group of men in a very injured and disruptive season with some controversy on and off the field. We were able to rally the troops and get the job done. It was a tremendous effort.

"Even last year, winning (our) first three games ... you don't know your football team until you lose."

As he told shareholders on Wednesday, Sherman said his expectations are set high as always – winning the NFC North, winning the NFC championship, and winning Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. Before all of that can happen, however, the team chemistry has to be just right, enabling the team to play through adversities, he said.

"The reality is that there is going to be adversity in this season," Sherman said. "This team will face some adversity, whether it is on the field or off the field. On Lambeau Field or some other field. It's how we handle that adversity which will define the character of this team and how close-knit this team is."

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