Cover story: Four of a kind at receiver
Chad Johnson thinks so highly of himself that he changed his name to Chad Ochocinco. Terrell Owens thinks so highly of himself that he famously said, "I love me some me."
DeSean Jackson thinks so highly of himself that he thought the football field was only 99 yards, dropping the ball to start celebrating before he crossed the goal line last season against Dallas. Michael Crabtree thinks so highly of himself that he thought the NFL rookie salary system didn't pertain to him.
The four prolific receivers in the Packers' locker room? Not a diva among them. The only trash they talk is directed at themselves.
Greg Jennings says Donald Driver has been playing for 52 years. Driver says Jennings is about 100 in "dog years." Jordy Nelson says Driver is selfish for not hosting get-togethers with other receivers. James Jones says Nelson will become more dangerous after the catch once he starts catching the ball with his hands.
The camaraderie starts with Driver, the only one of the Packers' Big Four that was here when general manager Ted Thompson arrived in 2005. Since then, Thompson drafted Jennings in the second round in 2006, Jones in the third round in 2007 and Nelson in the second round in 2008.
That Thompson, who values character more than most general managers, zeroed in on talented but humble receivers was no coincidence.
"I think at all positions, character and their makeup, and we talk about this leading up to the draft, it doesn't matter if you are a receiver or a defensive lineman or what. We look for a certain kind of guys," Thompson said. "Now, everybody is different and everybody's personality is different, but we think there are core values and core things that makes a good teammate that we try to look to. And unselfishness I think is a very good key attribute of a professional football player."
We talked to Driver, Jennings, Jones and Nelson to see what makes them tick and why there is such camaraderie.
Packer Report archives
The Packers: 90 years, by the numbers
The Green Bay Packers are celebrating their 90th anniversary this season. Our challenge: Choose the best player to wear each jersey number. Some were easy: No. 4 for Brett Favre, No. 15 for Bart Starr, No. 66 for Ray Nitschke. Some were too close to call, such as Bob Jeter or Charles Woodson for No. 21. It's an interesting trip down memory lane, complete with some great old-school photos.
John Anderson goes back to school
John Anderson's discipline and consistency over the duration of his career put him in a prestigious fraternity of Packers linebackers.
Best known to fans as big, hard-hitting No. 59 during the course of his 12-year career with the Green and Gold (1978 through 1989), Anderson built a reputation as a tough, dependable leader on the gridiron.
With a determined, blue-collar mind-set and using what became his trademark heavily padded left arm, he aggressively performed his assignments each week en route to becoming the leading tackler in franchise history.
Having learned many valuable lessons over the years as an intelligent student of the game, he plans to reference some of that knowledge and experience to help flourish in his new role as an assistant coach at the collegiate level.
Anderson, 53, is in his first season as linebackers coach at Carroll College, a Division III school located in the southeastern Wisconsin city of Waukesha.
Trgovac pumps up the volume
Twenty-five years ago, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac made a bold career move. If he ever decides to do it again, maybe motivational speaker would be a good choice.
It's impossible to miss Trgovac's colorful language and hard-hitting catch-phrases. Football is a violent sport, and it's a point that Trgovac drives home constantly on the practice field with equal parts volume and praise, with an occasional kick-in-the-butt administered for those who somehow are missing his point.
"I don't know, it's just me," Trgovac said. "I've got a lot of energy. I love coaching and I've always been a guy that would rather praise than criticize. Sometimes, you've got to criticize. But I'd rather praise them, but sometimes you've got to get after them. It's just kind of become natural."
That kind of enthusiasm probably wouldn't have worked so well in his old career at a bank. But it works great on a football team, especially with a position group that took its lumps last year as the team plunged to a 6-10 record.
"I was like, man, I didn't know what to think," nose tackle Ryan Pickett said of his first impression. "The first time you talk to him and sit down, you realize he's a good guy and a great coach."
Catching up with Chris Gizzi
There are enduring, defining images from Lambeau Field. Some are freeze frames in our mind. Others are slow-motion videos that play in our head and give us goosebumps years later.
For the most part, these images have been provided by some of the greatest players to suit up in Green and Gold. There's Bart Starr's quarterback sneak in the Ice Bowl, LeRoy Butler's jump into the stands for that first Lambeau Leap, Reggie White sacking John Elway on back-to-back plays to preserve a win, Antonio Freeman's "Improbable Bobble," and any number of Brett Favre plays, from an improvised two-handed shovel pass as he's being pulled to the ground, to the iconic Sports Illustrated cover of him standing in a virtual snow globe during a playoff win over Seattle.
But sometimes, an unlikely player seizes his moment on the Frozen Tundra and grabs a hold of us. Sometimes, circumstance frames a memory and destiny decides who plays the part. It was following the most unimaginable of events, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that Chris Gizzi, a little-known backup linebacker from the Air Force Academy, provided an uplifting and unifying scene that is as memorable as any of the aforementioned.