Tailgate notebook: Racing, thanking

Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins races a high school lineman; team appreciates opportunity to thank the fans; and more from the final stop of the four-day Tailgate Tour.

BEAVER DAM, Wis. — Nick Collins might have skipped some of the offseason workout program, but he's still fast enough to win a 40-yard sprint against a high school football lineman.

A question-and-answer period with fans attending Thursday night's Tailgate Tour event at Beaver Dam High School turned into an unlikely competition when junior Ethan Coleman challenged Collins to a race.

"If you pull a hamstring, you're in big trouble," team President Mark Murphy joked.

Collins, in his green No. 36, and Coleman, in his yellow No. 78, were wearing jeans. Collins false-started, eliciting laughter. When the race began, Coleman stumbled at the start. He got close but Collins crossed the finish line with his arm and index finger extended.

"He's very fast for not trying very hard," Coleman said with a laugh.

Coleman, by the way, isn't your stereotypical lineman. He plays offensive tackle and defensive end on the football team, and while he's strong enough to throw shot and discus on the track and field team, he also runs on the 4-by-100-meter relay.

Coleman and a friend were "messing around" with Collins inside the school before the event on the football field. The messing around continued with Coleman's challenge.

He might have had a chance if not for that stumble, right?

"Yeah," Coleman said with a laugh. "No, I don't think so. He probably would have run a little faster if I hadn't fallen."

Thanking the fans

The stop in this south-central Wisconsin community wrapped up the Packers' four-day Tailgate Tour, which covered about 1,000 miles with evening tailgate-style parties in Marshfield, Hudson, Platteville and Beaver Dam.

"It's been a great time," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "Around the state, we've had a lot of stops and go to schools and have had the opportunity to really connect with our fans and extend to them our gratitude and appreciation for their support. I'll tell you, it really has demonstrated to me how special it is to be a Green Bay Packer. You've just got to love the Packer fans and the passion that they have for us and for the game, and it's great to be able to connect."

This was the fourth annual Tailgate Tour. Last year's was held in July, but this one was held in May so the team could visit several schools along the way.

"You can really see that the students, because it's Packer players, are paying attention," Murphy said. "Maybe we can be helpful in helping kids make good decisions and maybe make some improvements in their lives."

Kampman to linebacker

One of the fans asked about Aaron Kampman's move from defensive end in the old 4-3 alignment to outside linebacker in the new 3-4.

"If anybody can make the transition, I don't see why Aaron couldn't," said fellow outside linebacker Brady Poppinga.

"Aaron's a special person and he'll make it work," said Murphy, who was ribbed before the event for his "sterling" defensive work in the Packers' 48-47 victory in the famed 1983 "Monday Night Football" clash against Murphy's Redskins.

Changing times

Asked about staying in shape during the offseason, Poppinga and Collins talked about lifting weights and running. Murphy mentioned that when he was in the league, many players would play basketball and racquetball to stay in shape.

That's frowned upon today.

"They don't want you to get hurt," Collins said. He added that players have to walk the fine line of reining in their competitive juices but still play hard enough to "make yourself look good."

One liners

— Poppinga, on what he does during his free time: "I have kids who are 4 and 3, and they're just as active and as crazy as I am."

— Poppinga grew up Wyoming but said the Broncos are his least-favorite team: "They'd get to the Super Bowl and always get beat, and I hated John Elway because of it."

— Collins, on how many games the Packers would win in 2009: "All of them."

Jordy Nelson, on what fans can do to help the Packers on game days: "Drink more beer."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.

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