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Aaron Rodgers, Covid-19, Personal Responsibility, and You: A Sunday Thoughts Post

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Folks, if you are a sports fan — or even if you’re not — and you live in the United States, you’re probably aware of the foofaraw around Aaron Rodgers. (I do like that word, foofaraw. Anyway, I digress.) He said when he reported to the Packers in August that he had been “immunized” against Covid-19, but he hadn’t actually been vaccinated. Instead, he had some sort of holistic treatment (also known as a homeopathic treatment) meant to raise his overall antibody count.

A few weeks ago, his team, the Green Bay Packers (the Wisconsin state-wide team, for lack of a better term; the Packers are also one of the most recognizable American football teams in the world), had a couple of their best wide receivers out due to Covid-19. One, Davante Adams, was vaccinated. The other, Allen Lazard, was not.

I say all this because we learned, at that time, that NFL players are treated differently depending on whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. Lazard had to miss a minimum amount of time, and could not be tested until that minimum time (ten days, I think) had passed, even though he was only listed as a “close contact” of Davante Adams and didn’t directly have Covid at the time. Whereas Adams, once he tested negative for Covid twice, would’ve been eligible to play. (There also was a scheduling hiccup where the Packers had an especially short week in that they were the Thursday night game of the week, which did not help anything. I mention this for completion/emendation more than anything else.)

So, this past week, Rodgers himself tested positive for Covid-19. Because he is not vaxxed, he has to sit out a minimum of ten days. This is due to an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA (player’s association). At that point, if he tests negative, he’ll be all right to play again.

In the meantime, he’s had the monoclonal antibodies. (He said this on a 45-minute long talk show appearance.) He also took the controversial drug ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites, including some roundworm infections. There has been no proven benefit to ivermectin as of this writing with regards to Covid, but some swear by it.

Now, do I like it that Rodgers took ivermectin? No, I don’t. I think taking ivermectin for Covid is silly and stupid.

But it’s his life. His body. His choice. His responsibility.

Where I get more frustrated with Rodgers is that in not getting vaxxed, but saying he was (i.e., “immunized”), he skirted the truth. He plays a team sport where all 53 guys on the team are in close proximity during practices and games. Not being vaccinated meant he could spread Covid more easily than a vaxxed person (even though — and I know someone’s going to think of this — it certainly is possible for a vaccinated person to spread Covid also with some of the variants. The trick is, they should not be spreading as virulent of a variant. Try to say that five times fast. It’s not easy. But again, I digress.)

I think “your choice, your responsibility” ends when you can conceivably hurt someone else — a loved one, a personal friend, a co-worker — due to being unvaccinated.

Now, Rodgers is going to be protected from Covid for a time due to the monoclonal antibodies. He should not get it again for several months. By that time, if he wishes, he can get one of the easily available Covid shots. (He said he’s allergic to two, the Pfizer and Moderna.) The Johnson and Johnson shot was not available for a week or ten days in the summer, so that apparently unnerved Rodgers. (No one, yet, has asked Rodgers, who has plenty of money as he’s a multimillionaire, why he didn’t just hop on a plane to the UK and get the AstroZeneca vax that’s in use over there.)

I still think “tempest in a tea cup” here, for the most part, because Rodgers is a sports star. While he’s of a more intellectual bent than many football players, he’s still not a nuclear physicist. Nor is he a doctor, much less an infectious disease specialist.

What he is, as I think he’d admit, is an intelligent layman.

I think he did do research. I don’t know why it led him into what to me seems like a blind alley. But his error was more of omission than commission. That doesn’t make it right. But it may remind us all to pause, and think hard about who’s giving us advice about our health.

As Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett put it in a recent press event (my best paraphrase), you pick a health expert to tell you about the virus. You only pick a football expert like Rodgers to either play or explain football.

But I did mention you in the above title, and it’s time to get down to brass tacks.

The upshot, for you, with the Covid-19 vaccines is simple: Who are you around everyday? Are your loved ones immunocompromised? (Maybe they have to do kidney dialysis. Or they’re undergoing cancer treatment.) Can you safely be around them, masked or unmasked, for long periods of time if you haven’t had the vaccine yet? And if you don’t like or trust masks — many don’t, myself included (I wear them, but I definitely don’t like them) — are you willing to bet your loved ones’ lives in this matter?

That’s your basic risk/benefit calculation, right there. And it’s what I considered, myself, before getting my first shot of the Covid vaccine (Team Pfizer, if you must know). I knew I have weird allergies, and I told ’em right off the bat about them.

So if Rodgers is allergic, he has a reason not to get Pfizer and/or Moderna. (If he tried and had an allergic reaction, I mean.) But if he was worried about an allergy, as I was, all he had to do was sit there for a half-hour rather than the standard fifteen minutes after he got the shot, and see how he reacted. I know I did that both times, and I will be doing it again when I get the booster shot soon.

Anyway, what you need to know, this Sunday, is simple:

Make your best choices. Do your research. Be prepared to defend your choices, if need be. (That goes for the entirety of life, not just whether or not you get the Covid-19 vax.)

But don’t obfuscate about it, as the obfuscation in this case is what got Rodgers into trouble in the first place.

And for the love of little green apples, please stop putting sports stars, actors, musicians, and other public figures on pedestals. They’re like anyone else: fallible and mortal.

As we have just seen with Aaron Rodgers.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 7, 2021 at 3:13 am

Sunday Musing: Aaron Rodgers

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Folks, on Sundays I often try to write something a little different, something that makes you think. And today, I have an almost ideal subject, albeit for a not-so-great reason, that subject being Aaron Rodgers. (He was injured today, you see. But I’ll get to that in a bit.)

When Rodgers first became the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, I wasn’t happy. (Yeah, I’ll admit it.) I was a big fan of Brett Favre and Favre’s happy-go-lucky style of play, and Rodgers was more sedate, much quieter, and far less flamboyant.

However, over time, I’ve learned to appreciate Rodgers. He is a deep thinker, as well as a fierce competitor, and he seems to have a very solid moral compass. (He reads, too, and I’m a big fan of that…no surprise, huh?)

Rodgers is the type of guy who learns from experience. He is mature, and has a personality that I probably would like, one-on-one.

So, why was it that when Rodgers, who probably had all of these qualities to begin with in some fashion or another, came into his own with the Packers that I didn’t appreciate him very much at all?

I think there’s something to do with loyalty that came into play, there. It was hard to give Rodgers a chance when I still liked Favre and believed Favre could play, and play well, in the NFL. And even though it wasn’t up to Rodgers at all as to when Rodgers would finally get his time to shine (as if it were, Rodgers would’ve started from the moment he got drafted by the Packers, and that obviously didn’t happen), it was difficult to see Rodgers’ worth or value.

This is the value of time, though. It gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate your snap judgments. Some of them are right; I liked Favre from the start, for example. But some are flat wrong, and are colored by prejudgments that can’t help but keep you from seeing the whole picture.

As my cousin Wayne put it a while back, Favre and Rodgers are both great, but in different ways. One was relatable and quotable; the other humane and thoughtful. But both are wonderful players, and are interesting people with unique perspectives on life, to boot.

And that’s important to think about. Rodgers is a person, with feelings and wants and needs and desires of his own. He’s not an automaton. He’s a real, live person, and he’s about to have to endure the hardest thing any athlete in his prime hates, that being a major injury.

Earlier today in the game versus the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone. He will be out for quite some time. There’s even a possibility that Rodgers will be out the entire remainder of the 2017 season.

I hope Rodgers will heal quickly and well.

But while he heals, I also hope he’ll continue doing what he was already — that is, studying, reading, thinking hard, doing good for others, and caring deeply about the world we live in.

Because as great a quarterback and football player as Rodgers is, I think he’s an even better person. And we need more people like him in this life.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 15, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Why Are People More Worried about #Deflategate than #NFL’s Pay-for-Play Faux Patriotism?

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Folks, a while back, I wrote about the biggest scandal to hit the NFL in quite some time.

No, it wasn’t Deflategate. (For the record, I truly don’t care whether Tom Brady threw deflated footballs or not.)

No, it wasn’t even Spygate, which is a much worse problem in that the New England Patriots admitted to spying on at least one other team in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

Instead, it was a pay-for-play scandal that Keith Olbermann found out about while browsing the Internet. NFL teams, including the Green Bay Packers, the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers were paid $5.4 million dollars to put “Hometown Hero” spots on jumbotrons; the Department of Defense gave the NFL this money to promote not patriotism — faux patriotism though this is — but for recruitment purposes.

It’s like the Department of Defense was saying, “See, men and women? If you join the military, you can be feted at a NFL game! Yet another reason to sign up!”

The reason this was and is plain, flat wrong is because most people — myself included — believed that these men and women were being singled out truly because they were — and are — heroes. Not because the Department of Defense had paid money to 14 NFL teams to do so.

The only major broadcaster who picked this story up was Keith Olbermann. He was passionate, explaining just what’s wrong with this sort of faux patriotism, and read NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the riot act.

Olbermann was right to do this. What the NFL did in taking this money was absolutely shameful. That the NFL pushed the blame onto the 14 teams that took the money is at best a deflection; it is not an excuse.

At the moment, Olbermann is off the air. (Rumors abound that Olbermann will be reunited with MSNBC, one of his former employers, soon — MSNBC has a huge ratings problem, and Olbermann always drew great ratings. I hope for once that rumor will prove to be fact.) No other major broadcaster has taken up the baton in this area — meaning it is impossible for me, as a fan, to know that the “hometown hero” segments that continue to go on to this day in both the NFL and in major league baseball are legitimate — or if they’re the same type of phony patriotism Olbermann rightly excoriated months ago.

Now, there are two Senators, both from Arizona, who are continuing to look into this, these being Senator Jeff Flake and Senator John McCain. They’ve both been critical of this practice. (McCain is a former POW, as well as being a former Presidential candidate, and his voice carries great weight.) Flake said, according to an ESPN report from May of 2015:

“You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said to ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”

What I want to know is this: Why is everyone so worried about whether or not Tom Brady threw deflated footballs, when taking money to “promote” the military in this cynical fashion is a far bigger scandal?

As Olbermann rightly said months ago (see his full comment on YouTube here):

If this time, our time, is one in which the country is pro-military, and if that is reflected at sporting events, so be it.  But for that sense for where the nation is regarding sending our citizens in harm’s way — for or against — for that to be secretly tampered with by the government, by the Defense Department, using your money to purchase public sentiment and pay off the NFL, MLB, NBA, the HIGH SCHOOLS, and all the rest to influence that, that is intolerable! And it is dishonest! It is dishonest in an area where honesty is the only acceptable policy. As dishonest as if the LA clubs never revealed that they are paid nearly $6 million to call it Staples Center and instead insisted that they did so out of admiration for the company.

Folks, I hope the two Arizona Senators continue to be vigilant. Because until Olbermann gets another program, it is very unlikely we’re going to find out the whole story…because no one else seems to care.

And I, for one, see that as incredibly sad.

Memorial Day for Sale: NFL Teams Take Money to ‘Honor’ the Military

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Is Memorial Day truly for sale?

It sure seems that way, after finding out that 14 NFL teams have actually taken money to “honor” military veterans — including my own favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.

I found out about this last Friday (May 22, 2015) by watching Keith Olbermann’s ESPN2 show. As quoted from the website PoliticsUSA.com:

In a lengthy monologue on Friday’s broadcast of ESPN2′s Olbermann, host Keith Olbermann took NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to school over the recent revelation that the National Football League has taken millions of dollars from the US military to promote the armed forces of this country. Over the past few years, it has been estimated that the NFL has received $5.4 million since 2011 to ‘honor’ members of the military at games and other events. As Olbermann pointed out, the main issue isn’t that the league took money, but that it pretended that it was honoring the soldiers out of true patriotism rather than love of money.

This disturbs me for more than one reason.

First, veterans of the armed forces deserve to be treated well without teams being paid to do so.

Second, that teams have been pretending they’re doing this out of the goodness of their nonexistent hearts rather than some sort of business-oriented motivation is incredibly hypocritical.

It is especially upsetting because fans are expected to be both patriotic and uncritical of the teams they follow. So when we see teams giving what surely look to be deserving shout-outs to serving military members (or honorable veterans), we think it’s genuine.

We don’t expect these “Hometown Heroes” shout-outs to be merely a matter of public relations.

But they are. And that’s wrong.

Olbermann isn’t the only high-profile person angered by this behavior. Arizona’s two United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are also appalled. In an article from the Washington Post, McCain was quoted as saying:

“I think it’s really disgraceful that NFL teams whose profits are at an all-time high had to be paid to honor our veterans,” he said Tuesday (via ESPN)..

Agreed. (To the Nth power.)

Taking money in order to salute these real hometown heroes is wrong. Just ask U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, as quoted in the Washington Post article:

“You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Flake told ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”

This, right here, encapsulates why I’m so steamed.

Look. According to Olbermann (see his YouTube rant here), the Green Bay Packers took $600,000 from the Department of Defense for this practice.

But even if the Packers hadn’t taken any money, I’d still be upset.

As a fan, I’ve always seen military members get shout-outs. They are feted, get tickets to games, often are highlighted on the scoreboard, and the impression is that the teams are doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

Sure, it’s all public relations. We know this, deep down inside.

But we don’t expect that teams would actually be crass enough to require payment.

That these 14 NFL teams have done so is truly shameful. A recent editorial at Jacksonville.com said:

…the Department of Defense and 14 NFL teams deserve boos over revelations that the federal agency paid the clubs $5.4 million over a three-year period to feature military members during games. According to the Defense Department and the 14 teams, the payments were merely part of mutually agreed “sponsorship deals” designed to promote the military in a flattering, high-profile manner. But in truth, the deals were simply “crass” and “disgraceful,” as Sen. John McCain — a military hero who bravely survived captivity during the Vietnam War — so aptly put it.

(Preach it, brothers and sisters.)

Why the Packers ever thought it a good idea to take money to salute the military makes no sense.

NFL teams make money hand-over-fist. They do not need to take money from the Department of Defense or anyone else to salute the hard-working men and women who comprise the United States military.

That they did was absolutely reprehensible.

******
P.S. Because it’s come out that 14 NFL teams have taken money to salute soldiers, it makes me wonder…are teams in Major League Baseball also taking money for this practice?

Have the Milwaukee Brewers actually taken money over the years to salute these “Hometown Heroes” in order to put them on the big scoreboard in centerfield?

I sincerely hope the Brewers haven’t.

Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers “Kiss and Make Up”– Retirement of Number 4 Will Happen in 2015

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Well, it’s official: Brett Favre, one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the National Football League, and his long-time team the Green Bay Packers have “kissed and made up.” This means his long-delayed retirement ceremony and the retirement of his iconic Number 4 in Green Bay will finally happen in 2015.

Now, why is this news, exactly?

Yes, Favre was traded to the New York Jets a few years ago in order to make way for Aaron Rodgers — something that didn’t sit well with many fans at the time (including me), but was probably the best move for the team as Rodgers was ready to play. And after that, Favre played two years with the Minnesota Vikings, a long-time rival of the Packers in the NFC Central division, leading the Vikings to the 2009-10 NFC championship game.

And yes, things were very messy, at the time — even being characterized in Wisconsin as a “nasty public divorce” (most recently by various WTMJ-AM radio commentators, including Doug Russell and Jeff Falconio; WTMJ-AM serves as the “home of the Packers” and is the flagship station for the entire state). Fans took sides, Favre was booed in Green Bay while he wore a purple number 4 jersey, and some fans were so angered with Favre continuing to play in the NFL rather than retiring that they burned Favre’s jerseys and refused to even speak his name.

(No, I’m not kidding. Wish I were. But Wisconsin takes its pro football seriously.)

Even now, there’s discussion as to whether fans will actually boo Favre because Favre wanted to keep playing football after the Packers traded him, rather than retire outright as a Packer legend as many fans felt he should — even though Favre, demonstrably, still was playing at a very high level up until mid-2010.

Fans take things so personally, in fact, they forget how awful they would feel if, in their mid-thirties, they were told they had to stop doing something they loved. That had paid them very well for years. That they knew they could still do. All because a younger person was available to do the same job for a lower amount of money.

In any other profession, this would be called age discrimination. But in sports, because of how most people’s bodies react due to aging and how their physical skills can’t but help decline, it’s called a simple fact and franchises are lauded when they jettison older stars.

Even when, as in this case, that older star is the Iron Man of Professional Football.

At any rate, I don’t understand why anyone would boo Brett Favre at this point. He’s been retired from pro football since the end of the 2010 season, for crying out loud. And he did so many wonderful things for the Packers: He took them to two Super Bowls, winning one; he won three Most Valuable Player Awards; he set numerous records; he broke the consecutive games played streak while in a Packers uniform; and he did many positive things for Green Bay and the state of Wisconsin.

He even was an active supporter of many local charities.

So even though Favre played for two teams in addition to the Packers, it wasn’t like that was Favre’s choice — he was traded. He wanted to be a Packer until his body gave out. Just because that didn’t happen doesn’t mean that all of the onus of Favre and the Packers’ “messy divorce” should fall upon him — some of it should fall on the Packers, most particularly General Manager Ted Thompson.

But some fans just don’t care about that.

Why? Well, Favre is famous for retiring, then un-retiring, in a similar manner to basketball legend Michael Jordan. And all that retiring and un-retiring was difficult for his team in Green Bay to handle, for his coach to handle, and most especially his GM to handle.

So if you’re a fan who was angry at Favre because he had the audacity to keep playing after the Packers clearly indicated they were ready for the Aaron Rodgers regime, please do me a favor: get over it.

That way, the rest of us can enjoy Favre’s well-deserved retirement ceremony in peace.

Should Packers WR Donald Driver Start Against SF?

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Earlier this evening, as I often do on Mondays, I listened to sports-talk radio on WTMJ-AM 620 out of Milwaukee, WI.  The question posed by hosts Greg Matzek and Jeff Falconio (known as “the freak” and “the geek”) was this: Should Packers WR Donald Driver play against San Francisco?

And of course, as you might expect, Falconio and Matzek’s answer was that Driver should not play.  Driver’s stats this year do not look good, as he’s played very few downs. With only eight receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns, Driver has not been the same cog in the Packers offense that he was for so many years since being drafted back in 1999.

My question, therefore, is different: Should Donald Driver start against San Francisco, even knowing Driver hasn’t been able to do much this past season?

I say yes.

Before you go ballistic, hear me out.  Driver’s history needs to be factored into the equation.  He’s a three-time Pro Bowler with seven seasons of 1000 receiving yards or better.  He’s a well-prepared professional with enough speed and smarts that it’s quite possible he can still make plays, even at his advanced football age of 37.

Yes, yes, I know that Driver only had 565 yards receiving in 2010 and 445 in 2011.  I know by those numbers that he was starting to slow down, and that opposing defenses had fully adjusted to him.

Still.  Driver has heart.  He continues to have skills.  And he can still help the Packers win — but he must be on the field and have a chance to catch the football in order for this to happen.

My thought is this: the 49ers definitely won’t be expecting Driver to start, especially as Driver was a “healthy inactive” for the playoff game versus Minnesota this past Saturday.  They’ll be feverishly studying game film on the other Packers receivers — Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb — and will forget about Driver, as Driver appears at this moment to be nothing but an afterthought.

This could be a dangerous mistake.

Driver can still beat any team in the NFL if given a chance.  He knows the opposing defensive players and their tendencies.  He knows the opposing defensive coordinators, too, much less their tendencies.  And he knows what he has to do to make plays, even though he’s gotten little opportunity to do so this past season in Green Bay.

Besides, if this is Driver’s last game with Green Bay, he should be treated with the respect he has earned due to his three Pro Bowl seasons and his seven 1000-plus yardage seasons.

That’s why I believe that Driver should start the game against San Francisco, much less play.  Because I truly believe that Driver still has more to give, if only head coach Mike McCarthy will allow Driver to do so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Waiting to Exhale — er, Waiting for the REAL NFL Refs

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Folks, after the last few days — after replacement referees made one of the worst calls in the history of the National Football League, which decided the Seattle-Green Bay game in favor of the team that should’ve lost (Seattle Seahawks) and took a win away from the team that should’ve won (Green Bay Packers) on the final play of the game — I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You could say that I’ve been waiting to exhale.

But in a phrase, what I’m feeling is this: bring on the real NFL refs.  Now.

What’s sad is that we have these incompetent replacement refs for one reason: the NFL, in a word, is cheap.  The owners have locked out the real refs because they don’t want to have to pay $3 million or so in pensions.

As Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, it’s wrong for the NFL — a multi-billion dollar enterprise — to be fighting the real, professional referees over a few million dollars in pension funds. 

And not only does this make the NFL look silly and stupid, it also makes them look completely uninterested in player safety.  Most replacement refs just aren’t up to the standard that the real NFL refs pride themselves on.  And that’s going to lead to player injuries sooner or later.

Oh, wait.  It’s already happened.  Because Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub lost a piece of his ear — yes, his ear — on Sunday due to an illegal hit by a member of the Denver Broncos defense, Joe Mays.  One that might not have occurred had the real refs been on the field.

And it’s not just me being upset by this.  Nor the sports columnists across the nation, nor even the Packers players.  Some players on other teams are also upset.

For example, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe — surely one of the most articulate football players ever — said this today to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

Kluwe said . . . some of the controversial decisions exemplified how important good officiating is to the integrity of the game.

“I think it made a lot of people aware of just how tough the job of being a referee is,” Kluwe said. “You can’t just plug someone in and expect them to be able to deal with the speed of the game and just how fast guys are moving out there. I think it shed some light on what is, a lot of times, a very unrewarding profession. If a ref is doing his job right, a lot of times it’s like a punter or a long snapper: You don’t notice them.

“It’ll be good to have those guys back.”

Or how about Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald?  This past Tuesday, Fitzgerald talked about the disputed ending to the Packers-Seahawks game to Yahoo Sports and said this (after a bit of a reprise from football columnist Mark Rogers):

Week 3 of the season was marred with a spate of disputed decisions but it was not until the dying moments of the Monday night clash between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers that the furor came to a dramatic head. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s game-winning pass to Golden Tate appeared to have been intercepted by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, only for the officials to award the touchdown that handed Seattle a 14-12 victory.

“Being a player you want to know you are being protected and that is truly important to me,” Fitzgerald said. “On the play last night, I thought the same [thing] that everyone else thought. I thought it was an interception, I thought it was clear as day but unfortunately that call wasn’t made.

“This is definitely going to have playoff implications. You know Green Bay is going to be in the thick of the playoff hunt, you know Seattle is going to be in the thick of the playoff hunt. I just hope that later on in the year this is not something that comes back to hurt one of those teams.”

So at least one player who’s not on the Packers has already figured out that the replacement refs have adversely affected the Packers — and have unfairly benefited the Seahawks.  Imagine that!

One final word about the replacement refs, this time courtesy of Pioneer-Press football columnist Joe Soucheray.  He described what’s going on now as:

(Games are) like watching a movie where you begin to notice all the mistakes the director has made, furniture that isn’t supposed to be in the scene, characters called different names 10 minutes apart, pieces of equipment in the shot.

Soucheray goes on to say that he didn’t see the end of the Green Bay-Seattle game, but he didn’t need to:

Because before that I had seen enough to wonder how long the NFL intends to flirt with disaster. There is something else at work here, the very real prospect of outright corruption. I am not at all suggesting that the temps are corrupt. I am suggesting that with each passing week they are in danger of getting things so wrong that a victory might be awarded to a team that lost, if, in fact, that didn’t happen Monday night.

So that’s where we’re at right now.  The NFL has a bunch of refs who aren’t ready for prime time, but three games have been played with these incompetent and inadequate refs.  And at least one game has been decided for the wrong team due to these same refs, which is utterly absurd.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to do the right thing; he needs to get the real refs back on the field, and stop his posturing already. 

And until the NFL gets its act together and gets the real refs on the field, I’m not going to watch or listen to any games, and I’m going to do my best not to follow along online, either.

Because this farce has gone on long enough.

Donald Driver Wins DWTS

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Earlier this year, I blogged about Donald Driver being a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”  I’ve watched Driver, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, play for the last twelve years; he is as fierce and tough a competitor as they come, yet he’s never been big on showboating or making a name for himself.  Driver is the type of guy who exalts his teammates, coaching staff, and family, which is why I’ve always enjoyed rooting for him.

Earlier tonight, Driver won this season of DWTS with his professional dance partner, Peta Murgatroyd.  Driver was the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas and was also one of the fan favorites throughout this past season, but it was never clear that he would indeed be the final person standing.  This had nothing to do with Driver’s dancing, which was excellent, but was instead about how well everyone else danced this season, too.

Over and over again during the past ten-week season, the judges exalted the level of competition, seemingly the highest it’s ever been, which is why it wasn’t easy to pick Driver (even as good as he was all season) as the winner.  And because the level of competition was so very high, it was nearly impossible to determine what the crowd would do from week to week.  The contestants who went out in fourth, fifth, and sixth places were all very good to excellent dancers who would’ve been Top Three material any other season — perhaps even winning material.  

But all any competitor can do is this: control what you can control, and don’t worry about anything else.  Driver did that: he controlled what he could control by making sure to improve as a dancer every single week.  He listened to his pro, Murgatroyd, and he also listened carefully to the judges.   Then he went out the next week and danced even better, because he took their criticism to heart.

Driver had another thing in his favor: he improved every single week.  It may seem strange, but as a long-time watcher of DWTS, I’m aware that DWTS is often decided by who improves the most as much as who is the best dancer/who does the crowd enjoy watching dance the most.  Fortunately for Driver, all of these factors — all of them — were in his favor.

Driver is a classy guy, and his behavior tonight on the final DWTS results show proved it.  Unlike some past winners, he immediately congratulated the runners-up and their partners (singer Katherine Jenkins and her partner, Mark Ballas, finished second; actor William Levy and his partner, Cheryl Burke, finished third).  Driver also made it clear that he couldn’t have done any of this without Murgatroyd, his partner, and thanked ABC for the opportunity of being on the show. 

All of this — class, professionalism, strong work-ethic, and graciousness — is why I’ve enjoyed watching Driver on the football field, and now off it on DWTS.  And it’s also why I’m glad to say, “Congratulations, Donald, on your well-deserved DWTS win!”

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Donald Driver does “Dancing with the Stars”

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Folks, in case you haven’t heard yet, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, 37, who holds a number of receiving records for the Packers, has decided to become a contestant on ABC’s hit TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.”  Driver will be teamed with Peta Murgatroyd, and has already said that the idea of getting spray tanned or wearing some of the outlandish outfits both men and women are expected to wear is going to take some getting used to.

Here’s a link to a story from Sports Illustrated about Driver going on DWTS that focuses on the oddity of athletes going on this show at all:

http://nfl.si.com/2012/02/28/donald-driver-joins-long-strange-legacy-of-athletes-on-dancing-with-the-stars/?section=si_latest

And the Los Angeles Times asks the question, “Can Donald Driver stay healthy?”  Here’s a relevant quote:

But injuries tend to run through “DWTS” seasons like linemen picking their way through an agility ladder. . . even experienced hoofers have been plagued with physical woes, including Jennifer Grey, who rose to fame in the film “Dirty Dancing.”

. . .

This should all be sobering stuff for Driver, who has played for the Packers since 1999 and — unlike fellow “DWTS” contestant Martina Navratilova, who retired from tennis years ago — is still very much in the game. At 37, he’s getting on in years for an NFL-er. And he has seen his share of workplace injuries in recent years. He sprained his ankle early during the 2011 Super Bowl and couldn’t return to the game, although the Packers won anyway.

What’s most surprising about the news that Driver will go on DWTS is that there were no hints in Wisconsin about this to the best of my knowledge; absolutely none.  Driver is a guy with a sunny personality and a very strong work ethic who’s done a great deal for charity in the past; if any of his personal charm translates to television, my guess is that he’ll do very well, providing he doesn’t sustain a serious injury.

I hate even writing the last, mind you, though it wasn’t me who brought up the “injury subject.”  But it’s the truth; even well-conditioned athletes like Driver have had troubles on this show because what they’re doing, dance-wise, is very different from what they do on the football field, on the basketball court, etc.  Dancing uses different muscles and that’s why someone who is in excellent shape can still end up injured (with the worst injury coming to Misty May Treanor several years ago, who tore her Achilles tendon; her partner was Maksim Chmerikovskiy).

Here’s to Driver for being willing to do something way out of his comfort zone.  And may he do well, be pain-free, and learn a new skill that he can share with his wife down the line during this season of DWTS.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Life Trumps Football; Packers OC loses son at age 21

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Today, football took center stage as the Green Bay Packers hosted the New York Giants in the National Football League playoffs.  The Packers were heavy favorites, as they had gone 15-1 during the regular season; most people in Wisconsin thought about the game, and about whether or not the Packers would do well, and that’s as normal.

What wasn’t as normal was the grief Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin has had to deal with, as his son, Michael, died suddenly at age 21 due to what seems like misadventure in Oshkosh as his body was pulled from the bottom of the iced-over Fox River this past MondayPhilbin was away from the team, something head coach Mike McCarthy said he’d completely expected.

“Joe Philbin is where he’s supposed to be,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, Joe and I haven’t even talked about his responsibility – and will not. He’s with his family and he’ll return when he feels he’s ready to return.”

This, of course is the proper attitude to take, especially considering this was an unanticipated death of a very young man.

The Packers ended up losing today’s game, 37-20, to the Giants, which as unexpected as that was on some levels actually makes sense to me.

You see, when people who matter to you die, that’s a lot more important than any football game, no matter how much you love football and no matter how much you root for the Packers.  Even working for the Packers, as QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Donald Driver, and others do is not as important as the loss of Michael Philbin, something every single one of the Packers are likely to understand down the road (even as the sting of this loss may temporarily crowd that out).

No one, but no one, wants to go to a funeral, much less a funeral for a previously healthy and happy 21-year-old.  The Packers went en masse to the funeral on Friday, and did their best to dedicate today’s game to the memory of Michael Philbin, but to my mind the grief suffered was just too overwhelming to bear.

My heart goes out to Joe Philbin and his family over the loss of Michael; may their memories of him sustain them in their time of grief, and may the people who care about the Philbins express their condolences no matter how awkward they may sound.  Because people who grieve need to know that the life of their loved one mattered, and believe you me, most people both need and want to keep talking about the person (or people) who matter to them, even if they’re now dead.

Because none of us knows the future, please remember to let your loved ones know that you care about them every chance you get.  Not a single one of us knows how many days we have left, and since we don’t know that, and we can’t know that, we have to make the best of whatever time we have. 

That way, when you’re left with nothing but memories (as I’ve been now, twice), those memories can give you some comfort amidst the pain.