Packers team concept prevails

The Green Bay Packers are proof that playing as a team results in success. Though the Packers had only four players named to the Pro Bowl team this week, their overall success can be linked to general manager Ted Thompson's grand plan, says's Matt Tevsh.

Even level-headed Aaron Kampman was a little surprised when he heard the news. With four Pro Bowl selections, the Packers had a whopping seven less players voted to the NFL's all-start game than the Dallas Cowboys.

"They had 11?" questioned Kampman, who was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl. "That's a lot."

While such a large disparity is normal for a team at the top and one at the bottom, for two teams just about equal in talent with identical 12-2 records, something does not seem right.

Nor did it necessarily seem representative that the Vikings (8-6) had seven players selected, the Seahawks (9-5) had six, and even the Bears (5-9) had four.

So the Packers, in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs with just two games to go, essentially were tied for fourth in NFC Pro Bowl voting.

"That means, I guess, that people are overlooking us," said wide receiver Donald Driver, now a three-time Pro Bowler. "If you look around, I think a lot of guys are upset they didn't go. Guys are mad, but you move on. You continue to move on, but if you look around this locker room there should have been at least nine or 10 guys that should've went."

For whatever reason, even when they are at or near the top of the NFL, the Packers have not appealed to Pro Bowl voters as much as other teams have – especially this season. At least two or three more players, or more according to Driver, would have been fair and just.

While the underlying message being short-sided with selections is a perceived lack of respect for the Packers, it should be just the opposite. Getting only four guys in says more about the group of players the Packers have assembled more than anything. These Packers are a perfect example that there is no "I" in team.

So much of the Pro Bowl vote has to do with politicking, statistics, and living in the ESPN, highlight-driven generation. This Packers' team lacks the big-mouth media darling and consists of more collective talent than any one or two of the "fantasy" studs that the American football culture has become fixated on.

The team concept is just how general manager Ted Thompson has built his team. Taking the best available player in the NFL Draft regardless of position, building a roster through the draft with "Packer People", and picking his spots with free agency – those all are Thompson's principles.

Just as those principles do not always immediately appeal to fans (just look at the Justin Harrell draft pick last April as an example), individual players on the Packers do not always appeal to voters. By all accounts, Packers' players are usually strong with the one-third of the vote that goes to the fans, but when it comes to the players' and coaches' vote, they seem to fall behind. Much of it has to do with the small market they play in and that the national appeal of Brett Favre dwarfs others as deserving on the team.

Dating back to the Vince Lombardi era, 17 other Packers' teams have had more players selected to the Pro Bowl than the 2007 one, though this year's team is on its way to the highest win total in team history. With 12 wins already, the 2007 Packers are at least the best ever in franchise history to this point in the season.

With up to 10 alternates, including the biggest snub – linebacker Nick Barnett, the Packers could well see a couple others make the trip to Hawaii in February. Invariably, several selected Pro Bowlers opt out giving alternates a chance.

Though some of those Packers' alternates may be disappointed at the moment, they should find motivation because they were left out. After all, the 2007 Packers have been all about winning as a "team" more than anything. They would gladly trade a win over the Cowboys in the playoffs for more Pro Bowl selections any day.

"These are individual honors," said Kampman of the Pro Bowl selections. "What really matters is what happens as a team. So I think that will continue to be our focus. Who knows? We might get a chance to see those guys (the Cowboys) again. That might be a good thing."

Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories