Reggie's return

At 8-1, these Green Bay Packers are inevitably compared to their 1996 counterparts who finished 13-3 and plowed through the playoffs to glory in Super Bowl XXXI.<P> The current coach and players may shy away from such comparisons. But one man who knew that '96 team pretty well says this year's Pack has the same kind of talent and heart.<P> Future Hall-of-Famer Reggie White returned to the Lambeau Field sidelines Sunday and like what he saw.<P>

"These guys are playing real good football," White said. "You credit everyone who is playing, but Brett Favre is playing at such a high level he makes everyone else play at a high leve.

"It's getting better as the year goes on, especially on the defensive side."

The 1996 Packers were 8-1 - including an overtime win - before losing two in a row on the road. They won their last five, beginning with a memorable win in St and then running the table in December.

Several players from the title team remain on the roster: centers Mike Flanagan and Frank Winters, right tackle Earl Dotson, guard Marco Rivera, fullback William Henderson, cornerback Tyrone Williams, defensive tackle Gilbert Brown, quarterback Doug Pederson and, of course, quarterback Brett Favre.

That championship team had something this year's model doesn't have, but it doesn't seem to bother Mike Sherman charges: In '96, no defensive starters missed a game. This year's defensive injuries are unbelievable; only the fact that the Packers have overcome those setbacks is more amazing.

"You have to admire what these guys have been through with all the injuries they've had," White said.


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