2018 Week 18 YEE

Thank You Packer Fans

Some of you have come up to me during the year to tell me how much you appreciate the work I do for the club, I smile and say ‘thank you’ knowing I am taking some underserved credit.  I am not the only one that makes this club run; I’m just the most visible.
Standing behind me and working what we call the “Office” is the ever present Marge 328 and my wife Linda.  Their smiling faces look a lot better than mine.  Some of the things you don’t see is Justin Curtis who set up and keeps our website up to date while Erich Peschel does the same for our Facebook page, keeping it current and answering messages when they come in.  Both Kraig Pringle & Ken Hill have taken turns on the mic and many others who helped set up and pack the prizes and the sound system. These are the people that deserve the praise, the ones you are really saying thanks to when you say it to me.
To the Packer Backer Bits staff, I couldn’t do it every week without you. From Jimmy Smith and his weekly tyrants, to
Kraig and his twisted mind and Ken and his football passion; to Marge who keeps us up to date on who won what and what’s coming up while Barb Gambrel tested our Packer knowledge each week with her trivia questions; they are the ones that make this newsletter what it is, entertaining and informative.  The best weekly Packer rag in humble opinion.
A special thanks goes to Kriag & Neil (a.k.a. Lewis & Clark) for their time and efforts locating a new place for us to meet after Chief’s abruptly closed their doors.  After countless dinners and drinks and conversations, Hall of Fame Sports Grill was chosen.  A learning curve comes whenever there is change and though, at times, it may not have been the best of times during the year, we do owe a big round of thanks to Hall of Fame Sports Grill  for giving us a place to meet every week (snow day not included) and to call home.  A big Packer Thank You goes out to Alice for suppling us with the Trivia Gift Certificate each week, to all our servers and bartenders for meeting our needs and to the cooks for keeping us fat the whole year.
As you know, I have said all year I need help if the club is to continue.  Members have stepped up but more is needed.  There is still room for more, whether it’s on game day, or working behind the scenes.  Let me know you want to help and we will find something for you to do.  
Lastly to the Green Bay Packers, it didn’t turn out the way anyone expected, but they still gave us some thrills, a continuous rollercoaster ride.  Let Jerry’s ego think he is “Americas Team”.  What we have as the Greenville Packer Backers is special, as a club, but more importantly as friends; meeting each week to cheer, rally and support each other and our team, the team WE own, the 
Green Bay Packers.   
(Greenville Packer Backers)

Why Do We Watch These Games?

6-9-1 ~ What a dismal season.  Quite a few of the Packer games were hard to watch this year.  More than once I had flashbacks to my childhood in Wisconsin in the 1980’s.  I would be lying on the family room floor watching the game with my father sitting in his favorite chair.  Everything was fine and then the Packers did something STUPID to cause my father to storm out of the room.  If it was early in the game I knew he would come back after he calmed down a bit.  But if the DUMMIES kept messing up, my father be off again to his basement workshop or out to the barn, and I knew it was safe to go sit in his chair for the rest of the game.
I have always watched Packer games with a calmer demeanor than my father (never mind what my wife or sons say).  When things go wrong, I still watch the whole game so I do not miss that brilliant pass or awesome defensive take-away which brings the Packers back into contention.  But I have to admit, I left the Hall of Fame bar with a few choice words on October 7 when the Packers went down 0-24 to Detroit before halftime due to 2 Aaron Rodgers fumbles and 3 Mason Crosby missed field goals.
But even on the worst days of those losing 1980’s seasons, my father would come back around in the 4th quarter to check on the game.  I would give him a quick update while he stood there and watched the next few plays.  If the Packers were playing better, he told me to get out of his chair.  
Just like my father, for some reason I had to keep checking on the 2nd half of that October 7 Packer game.  Sometimes the ESPN Gamecast rewarded me with news of a Rodgers’ TD pass; other times it was the grief of another missed field goal or extra point.  Despite my sheepish cheering for the Packers after abandoning them at halftime, ultimately the 2nd half comeback was not enough to avoid the loss that day, 23-31.
What is it about the Packers that keeps bringing us back when hope is thin: half after half, game after game, season after season?  It is because the Green Bay Packers are the greatest team in the world!  Community owned.  100 seasons.  13 Championships.   Lambeau Field.  The Vince Lombardi trophy.   Hall of Fam-ers from every generation.  Fans in green and gold in every opponent’s stadium.  The Green-ville Packer Backers.   Bottom line: once a Packer fan = always a Packer fan.      
Case in point: at Christmas this year, two of my young nephews received tickets for their first Packer game (pictured).  Did it matter that it was a meaningless game at the end of a losing season?  They were thrilled.  Even though the game ended in a crushing loss (to Detroit again), my nephews will favorably remember the experience for the rest of their lives.
So even though we Packer fans had it rough at times this past season, we will all be back next fall yelling Go-Pack-Go! 
#398 Bill Demuth

Marge 328 Report

 I know that John said not to thank the office, writers, staff, etc, but he didn’t say I couldn’t write a thank you to you—all the Greenville Packer Backer club members. Our club wouldn’t be anything without you coming faithfully each game day to cheer on our team and to bring a smile to this girl’s face. 

This story began many years ago when an acquaintance (who happened to be a Wisconsin boy) told me about the club and met me at The Corner Pocket and I was hooked!  I was welcomed and I felt at home.  After a year or so I joined the office staff, not only to help out, but selfishly to give me the opportunity to get to know each of you better.  I enjoy chatting with each of you as you come in and put your numbers in the bucket, and get your chances in the pool.  Making sure that new members feel as welcomed as I did is a bonus for me.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to let each of you know how important you are to me and to the club.  After all, there wouldn’t be a club without you!  From the “old-timers” to the “newbies” and everyone in between, thank you for being the friendly, wonderful fans you are.  You are so special to me and I hope I see you all next season for the hugs and high fives and better things to come.   I love you all!
Through thick and thin ...
Marge 328

Just Sayin’

 I for one, am glad to see the 2018 season end. I like the way John put it, “instead of 100 years of Packer football, it has been 100 tears of Packer football”. When the season started, while I was not expecting a Super Bowl victory, I sure was expecting a lot more competitiveness from the Packers this season. Mike McCarthy said before the season that they were going to rip up the old playbook and reinvent it. Well, apparently, someone went to the trash can and got out the old plays that were ripped up, taped them back together and put the pages into the new playbook that McCarthy came up with. And being the “highly successful NFL coach” that he was, he couldn’t tell the difference. And let’s be fair, the disaster of a season that it was, was not all on Mike McCarthy. #12 has to shoulder some blame. It seems like McCarthy would send in plays, and Aaron would say “Nah”, and then call his own play. Also to blame was that little pest called the “injury bug”. Maybe we can get some decent exterminators (Strength & Conditioning Staff) brought in over the off season to help out with that situation.

As the season drew to a close, in all likelihood, we saw some familiar players that were playing in the Green & Gold for the last time. Two of the most likely casualties will be Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb. I have seen several instances on the web since the last game with people being sad as good friends have to part ways due to the business side of the NFL. Many players, all over the league, can’t remain on the same team when their contracts run out since said team doesn’t make a high enough offer for them to stay. Let’s use Jordy Nelson as an example. His contract was going to be up after the 2018 season. He had been making almost $10M a year for 3 years. As I understand, the Packers did indeed make him an offer to stay with them. He didn’t like the offer, so he left. That’s right, Nelson chose to leave, it was his choice. It was not entirely on Gutekunst. Nelson had just finished year 3 of a contract where he had made almost $30M over the previous 3 years. Over his professional career, he has earned over $45M. That’s $45M in about 10 years. I don’t know about you guys, but the amount I have earned over the last 10 years is a bit under $45M. How much is enough? Now, an 85%-90% pay cut would be hard for most of us to take, but you gotta remember that money in the NFL is in a different universe that most of us live in. The minimum wage in the NFL is $480,000.00. And that increases with more years of experience. I think at some point, the ego of some of the top athletes, along with their agents whispering in their ears, cause them to ask for more & more money. And to a certain degree, I think they lose touch with reality. And most of the time, there is going to be some team that will pay them the money they are seeking vs. what the current team is offering. The same is probably going to happen with Cobb and Matthews. As most of us have said or read at one time or another, the NFL is a business. And I assume that someone reading this right now has been laid off at some point in their working life or knows someone that has been laid off. But we tend to look at the Packers as our passion, or maybe our get away for a few hours a week. And when one of our favorite players gets laid off or takes a new job, it is hard to remember that it is just that, a business; a job. People change jobs all the time. If Cobb and/or Matthews get a higher offer to play elsewhere, that is actually no different than you or I changing companies in order to get a raise. And it’s either that or take a layoff. Most of us could look at ourselves as Unrestricted Free Agents. We get an offer from a different company and our current employer can match it or let us leave in Free Agency.
So, having said all that, some of the familiar players that we saw on the field against the Lions that may be playing for another team when the 2019 season starts could be: Clay Matthews, lack of production (might still stay with a much smaller contract), Randall Cobb, lack of production/frequently injured (might still stay with a much smaller contract) & Bryan Bulaga (asked to take a pay cut before the 2018 season started, but refused.) A couple of other players that could be gone are Nick Perry and Tramon Williams. Perry is constantly injured, but he may get a reprieve due to the dead cap number he has. Tramon & Devon House are probably gone due to the young guys improving. Jake Ryan and Marcedes Lewis might be gone as well. Geronimo Allison will be a Restricted Free Agent, so he may get a high offer that the Packers won’t match. I think they should offer Muhammad Wilkerson another 1-year deal. Bashaud Breeland should be offered a contract. We had 23 new players on the roster at the start of the 2018 season. I see more turnover this off season, but not quite as much as last off season.
Another B-I-G change coming is the new Head Coach. I didn’t have a preference since I don’t study other teams’ coaches. Let’s hope that Matt LaFleur has a strong personality. He has to be someone that can communicate with Aaron Rodgers and challenge #12. And it is absolutely imperative that as head coach, he can have a good report with Aaron from day 1 and that they can have agreement on the particulars of playing the game. And I am glad my cell phone didn’t ring with a call coming in from Wisconsin. I wouldn’t have answered it anyway. But I didn’t expect Murphy or Gutekunst to be calling for recommendations.
Just Sayin’...
Jimmy Smith #221

I have a couple old pictures of a couple of our trips to LalalaLambeau Field. There is nothing like that wave of green and gold, the tailgate parties, the roaming band, knowledgeable Packer fans, knowing the legends that have walked through that amazing stadium.  Hope to see you again soon!
# 507 Linda & #508 Norbert Bracke


 About twenty years ago, I got the opportunity to meet Walter Payton. I told him that I was grateful to be able to watch him play. I admired the way that he presented himself in public. BUT " I gotta tell you, I'm a Packer fan. He replied, "Thank you very much. That's okay that you're a Packer fan. I'll tell you this, I don't care what your record was, it was always the toughest, most physical games that we played each year."  He was a class act!
# 530 Gary Schweicker

A Bedtime Story

 I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have almost zero interest in the NFL Playoffs without the Green Bay Packers. To me, it’s just a bunch of posers playing for what is rightfully ours. I will say that I enjoyed duh Bears’ pain in a delightfully sleazy way when their kicker bonked the game-winning field goal against Philly. Side note: Go Eagles! If they beat New Orleans, our second first-round draft pick gets a bit better…
Headed into this most crucial offseason that I can remember, Packer John has asked us to “keep it positive.” Kind of a tall order with the steaming heap we just witnessed and endured. But duty calls, as it always does, and I have put on Bob Marley and will let the Positive Vibration keep me in a state of Irie. In this New Year and time of reflection, what could be more positive than a story with a happy ending? My kids, Konnor and Kyrsten, both eighteen and high school seniors, used to love my bedtime stories. In fact, despite my often stumbling, bumbling narratives in this publication, I got pretty good at spontaneously spinning spectacular yarns…
Once Upon a Time, there was a pro football organization. They had an iconic team, iconic stadium, iconic uniforms, iconic fans, and an iconic and unmatched history. Absolutely glorious! They had won every accolade possible in the history of the game. They were unlike any other franchise in that their fans literally owned the team, and win or lose, those fans were the best and brightest in their communities. They played in the most historic and hallowed ground, and that stadium was in the middle of a small town when the rest of the league was located in the biggest, baddest cities. In fact, there were hundreds of towns in America much, much larger than their humble home…
Their GM always made the smart draft picks and trades, and never let a little money stand in the way of picking up the best free agents. The leadership recognized when it was the right time to strike a deal or make a move. If the team needed immediate help to win now, they got it. If it was a time to develop with an eye on the future, they did it...
They hired the right coaches, who never blew games in unimaginable fashion or made ridiculous, boneheaded calls during the games. Most importantly, their coaches always made adjustments during the games to counter what their opponents were doing. Afterwards, win or lose, they gave intelligent and thoughtful answers and discussion in press conferences. No clich├ęs, no excuses, no “evaluating the process.” They let the results speak…they never lost where the Sun, Moon, and stars aligned to combine with their ineptitude and snatch sure victory in the last seconds. They never described themselves as “very successful football coach(es)…”
There was never a laundry list of injuries to the most key players, and certainly never to their franchise quarterback! It was even perfect on the field, where the refs never made atrocious calls and where the ever-morphing NFL rules never changed over and over because of some fluke or terrible call which cost them a big game...
They didn’t always win them all-this is a bedtime story, not a Fairy Tale. But they won every time they were supposed to, which was almost always. And they won championships. And more championships! The princess kissed the frog, and they lived happily ever after…
By now, if it was a good bedtime story, you should be asleep. Since you obviously aren’t sleeping, draw your own conclusion. Reality: It was a lost season on the field, but not at the Packer Backers. As bad as it was, there were still the ever-present periods of wild and exciting entertainment. I personally made many new friends, and as always enjoyed the friendships already made. There are some top-shelf people in our club, and I would encourage you all to join me as we boldly seek out new lives, new civilizations, and new faces on future game days…
Because, to paraphrase The Terminator: We’ll be back! To mimic the Energizer Bunny: We’ll keep going, and going, and going
I love the Packers, and I love you all! Happy New Year, and I hope it’s a “new” year in every sense of the word. See y’all on the other side… Go, Pack, GO!!!
Kraig Pringle #123

Trivia Challenge

 I received an interesting book from my nephew for a Christmas present.  It’s titled: “Before They Were Packers – Green Bay’s Town Team Days” by Dennis J. Gullickson & Carl Hanson.  I have only read the first few chapters that start with the history of what were called “town teams.”  The first account of “organized” football in Green Bay is in 1895.  There were many town teams throughout Wisconsin and the UP that played without a schedule – they just seemed to challenge each other.  The early accounts describe the games between the “Green Bay Eleven” and other teams as barely above an organized brawl – in fact, the players were frequently referred to as “ruffians.”  There wasn’t much respect for football as an organized sport in those very early years. My plan is to write several articles throughout the 2019 season about the very early years of football as described in this book.  I think you’ll find these as interesting as I do.
In honor of the Packers 100th season, I dug very deep for a few very obscure trivia questions going back to the 1930s & 40s.  The 2019 season will be my 9th season of scouring the records located in the Media guide. I hope you’ve had as much fun finding the answers as I have had making it hard to find those answers!
I have to mention this: on our way back from Milwaukee after Christmas, we pulled into a parking space at a rest stop in Kentucky. Louie’s car has a Packer plate on the front and a couple was walking past. The man glanced at our car and got a big smile on his face and pointed to the logo on his shirt and gave us a thumbs up! Of course, the logo was for the Packers.  So stick it, Jerry – the PACKERS are America’s Team!  I was hoping I’d never have to say this again – for the second season in a row: The Pack Will Be Back!!
Barbara Gambrell #220

What Play-offs?

 When John suggested I write an article for the end of year edition, I wasn’t sure what to write about.  I haven’t been to Lambeau in a few years and these past 2 seasons have left me with a bad aftertaste. 
So I figured I would write about how I deal with the playoffs.  The simple answer is I Don’t.  I don’t follow professional football.  I follow Packer football.  If the Packers play on a Thursday or Monday Night, I normally don’t watch a game on the weekend.  I may catch some college on Saturday, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.  I root for the Tide, but I didn’t care about the “National Title” game this past weekend.  I was mostly mad that they pre-empted Colbert for an HOUR LONG news report!  If I cared, I would watch ESPN!
So what do I do during the playoffs?  I turn on the TV, look at the score, see what’s on HGTV, see what ESPN is showing, probably Tiddlywinks World Title in Des Moines, Iowa.  Last week, it was cornhole, and these guys looked serious about their cornhole (I just realized what I wrote, but I’m leaving it in!)
A few years ago, the Panthers were playing the Broncos.  I was working up in Charlotte, and all of the guys I worked with were asking who I was rooting for.  I answered truthfully, “Coors Light.”  I didn’t care.  Did I watch?  It’s the Super Bowl, of course I did!  The Super Bowl is as much show as it is about football nowadays!  With corporate sponsors giving away tickets, I’m surprised the cheering is as loud as it is during the actual game.  I don’t really care who wins, unless the Packers are playing.  A few years ago, I hoped that New England and the Failcons would play to a 0-0 tie! 
So this Sunday, I’ll turn on the TV, glance at football, and go about my business.   I’ll wonder what Aaron thinks of our new Head Coach.  I’m intrigued, this guy was part of the renaissance of the Rams in L.A.  It’ll be interesting to see if he gels with Aaron and can make some improvements in the O-line and coach up the wide receivers!   Larry, Mike and Wes on Packers.com seem enthused, so time will tell.  Hopefully we’ll draft well and get some Free Agents with Real Impact, Jimmy Graham landed with a colossal thud!  
GO PACK!! GO!!!   
Ken Hill # 185

Parting Shots

 Being a football fan has been getting harder each year.  We hear continued stories about how a few players find themselves in trouble with the law or the league, some multiple offenders.  The league moving games around including three late night games each week (Sunday, Monday & Thursday), plus the Sunday sunrise games from England, all hard on us working stiffs who need to work the following day.  Then the league keeps changing the rules and even after 100 years of football, can’t define what a catch is.  An era where the salary cap makes it hard for fans to cling to a favorite player, knowing they may be gone next year.  And finally, there’s the Anthem discussion.  I for one loved hearing the Anthem at the Clemson game last week but did notice the teams were still in their locker rooms.  I blame the media more than the NFL for focusing in on players sitting and showing other forms of protest and disrespect.  To me the solution is simple, SHOW THE ANTHEM, focus on the color guard, the singer, the military aircraft, THE FLAG and let the players use other platforms to promote and support social problems and programs dear to their hearts.
On top of all that, we (the Packers) had a year to forget. Looking at the 1919 season, the Packers went 10-1 with their one loss ironically being a shutout, 0-6, the last game of the year to the Beloit Fairies (I’m sure it meant something different 100 years ago). 
Last year at this time we were calling for the head of Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers and Ted Thompson.  We got our wish for two out of three, Ted & Dom gone, enter Mike Pettine and a guy named Gutekunst.  Then 12 weeks into the season, McCarthy gets the axe, Joe takes over and goes 2-2.  Sometimes we get what we want... time to lay in the bed we made.  
Now enter Packer’s Head Coach #15, Matt LaFleur.  With that, expect a lot of coaching changes to happen and player changes for that matter too, where “The Gute” has the final decision (of course with Ted still standing in the doorway).  Both Cobb & Clay are high ticket items with low returns this season.  Cobb has been hurt on and off all year and never got into a rhythm with Aaron, ending up 4th in reception with only two TD’s.  Clay became the early poster child for “QB Abuse” the first three games (that penalty virtually disappeared after that) and ended up 10th in Tackles and 4th in sacks.
Injuries, although not an excuse, was still a factor.  Especially hard hit was the defensive backs where 3 corners, House, King & Redmond finished the season on I/R along with 2 safety’s, Campbell and Greene.  Also on defense was 3 Defensive Linemen, Wilkerson, Clark & Daniels and 2 linebackers, Ryan and Perry, all starters. Ten in all, that’s one player short of a starting lineup.  As I write this I see Mike Pettine has been retained as Defensive Coordinator so he must have their vote of confidence.
On the offensive side, it was “the Knee”, later “the Groin” and to finish off the season for Air-ron, a concussion.  I said it before, Air-ron was not himself this year, in part his lack of practice (due to afore mentioned injuries) and in part all the receivers, who at on time or another, missed practice because of injuries; sometimes 4 at a time.  Jimmy might be right about the Strength & Conditioning coaches.  If that’s the case, watch for these names on the chopping block: Mark Lovat, Chris Gizzi, Thadeus Jackson and Grant Thorne. 
Two items of special interest for me will be to see if Frank Cignetti remains our QB coach or will Matt and Air-ron pick another.  The other will be the draft, where we currently have a total of 10 picks, including 2 in the first round (#13 & Saints pick #28-32).
The club had a roller coaster ride this year.  Starting with the closing of Chief’s (yet to be re-opened), and with the diligent work for Kraig & Neil, landed at the Hall OF Fame Sports Grill.  We started the year with 80+ at duh bears game, turning some away because the bar was full.  As the season continued, more first time members signed up (88 members in all) but the crowds became less and less as the year progressed.  Two of the factors was lack of seating and the other was the Packers recorded; one we can fix, the other we can’t.   The Hall of Fame has it good points and bad points.  All of which will be reviewed this offseason.  I would like to have a meeting to discuss that and other aspects of the club in Late February.  Before that, look for a questionnaire to be sent to you.  Please respond to it .  The more the responses, the better the feel we have for what you want & expect from the club.
Thank you to everyone who sent in a picture or article.  It always warms my heart when I am pushed back to page 5; I wouldn’t mind being on page 12 next time.
In closing, I would like to thanks everyone one of you for being part of my Packer Family.  We may be drawn together because of a love for the Packers but I hope we stay together because we’re friends.  I want us to remember our fiends that pasted away this season.  To Chris McCarragher and Karn Bender.  In some ways it’s a double loss.  First because of the loss of their friendship and secondly because we didn’t see Phil Bender or Dori McCarragher all season.  I hope that changes next year.
And so ends Chapter 100.  Have fun this summer, be safe and until we meet again for Chapter 101, 
Bleed Green My Friends! 
Packer John