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Packers: Super Bowl Rings Day & Favre News

Posted: 16 Jun 2011 04:12 AM PDT

Legendary senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers news.

Super Bowl Rings Day: Dave Robinson lived in a town in New Jersey, and his mail regularly arrived every afternoon. But in April 1967, his postal carrier was rapping at the door at 6:30 a.m. It had arrived. Robinson tore off the parcel wrapping, pulled aside the flaps and pulled out a giant gold ring. Then the mailman grabbed it – and tried it on. ”Wow!” was about all the breathless postal carrier could say. The star linebacker for the Green Bay Packers and the postman talked about the ring that morning and what it stood for: great men and great moments. Robinson declared that this bejeweled token was proof the Packers were the best team in all of professional football. The mailman then turned away, reluctantly, for a mountain of mailbags and his route, leaving Robinson at his doorstep, beholding the first Super Bowl championship ring. He slipped it on, the single bold diamond refracting light, for the first time. ”It was something else,” recalls Robinson.

Forty-four years later, in the atrium of Lambeau Field, the current members of the Green Bay Packers, victors of Super Bowl XLV, will get to open their Super Bowl championship rings in a private ceremony Thursday night. ”I’m looking forward to it,” said receiver Greg Jennings. “Everywhere we go, people ask, ‘Do you have the ring?’ So I’m very excited.” Details of the Super Bowl XLV ring’s design and the ceremony are being kept secret by the Packers in an effort to create a special, meaningful and surprising event for the players, coaches and staff who contributed to winning the 45th Super Bowl. That ring will come to symbolize something different to each man: Sacrifice. Hope. Determination. Will. Strength. Triumph. Immortality. And while the Vince Lombardi Trophy always will rest inside Lambeau, the rings belong to individuals.

Legendary QB Favre stays retired: Brett Favre says that while his playing days are definitely over, he hasn’t decided what he’s going to do with himself in the coming years. The three-time NFL most valuable player hosted the “Brett Favre 7 on 7 at The Rock” football camp on the campus of Southern Miss, his alma mater, on Tuesday. He mingled with players and coaches in the nearly 100-degree heat, and occasionally squads would gather around the 41-year-old for a pep talk.

Commentary: Big day! Life goes on and moves on.

Harbaugh Happy With 49′ers Player Run Workouts

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 07:31 PM PDT

Though he claimed to not know, or even want to know the particulars, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is pleased with the team’s player-run workouts, Matthew Barrows of The Sacramento Bee reports.

“Our players are getting together and working out and holding practices on their own,” Harbaugh said during a Wednesday appearance on the Murph & Mac on KNBR radio. “What a neat thing that is where character guys can really get a leg up on the competition.”

Harbaugh hasn’t had much time around third-year wide receiver Michael Crabtree, but downplayed any concerns about his character.

“I’ve been around him a little bit and Crab, to me, is a good guy and a good football player,” Harbaugh said. “Some of the things lately kind of goes back to the analogy I gave a little bit ago, when you’re kids and working it out and sometimes you get into some tussles and shirts get ripped and noses get bloodied, but that’s part of figuring it out.

“I know he’s a good guy.”

Despite working out in the Bay Area during the lockout, Crabtree made his first appearance at the player-run workouts last week. The former Texas Tech star created a stir when he questioned who the team’s starting quarterback was, even though “free agent” quarterback Alex Smith has been organizing the workouts.

Lewis and Johnson Constants Among Linebackers for the Ravens

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 06:52 PM PDT

There are plenty questions that surround the Ravens for next season but two players that they shouldn't have to worry about are Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson.

Lewis is still the unquestioned leader of the defense and the face of the franchise and at 36 only took five plays off in 2010 while earning his 12th Pro Bowl selection.

Johnson has become "Mr.Dependable" and has played in a franchise record 113 straight games. He still posted a solid season even though he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

That accounts for two of the linebacking corps, but what about the other positions? These are a few questions that the Ravens will need to answer.

1) Who emerges as a starter on the Right Side?

Keep in mind that I don't count Terrell Suggs here. I have him as a pass rushing end, even though he can slide up to outside linebacker.

This is a question the team has tried to answer since Bart Scott left years ago. Who will emerge from the Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbee trio? Signs point to McClain as the front runner. He ranked third in tackles in 2010 and was assigned a second round free agent tender recently as protection. McClain needs to continue to build on his strong showing last year.

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Miami Looking to Boast One of the Best O-Lines in the NFL in 2011

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 06:49 PM PDT

In the past day, both ESPN and have done breakdowns of the offensive lines across the league in some respect, whether it be rankings of the left tackles, like ESPN did, or breakdowns of the best and worst lineman against the pass rush, such as PFF did.

In both articles, the Dolphins boasted at least one player at the top of each list. In ESPN's, Jake Long ranked as the second best left tackle in the league, coming in as a close second to the Cleveland Browns' Joe Thomas.

In PFF's, Long ranked as the second best tackle in pass blocking efficiency, and Vernon Carey coming in 12th over the past 3 years. Also, Richie Incognito and Justin Smiley came in as the 11th and 12th respectively most efficient guards against the pass rush. We did not have a center crack the list.

While having four players who are either on our roster or were (Smiley), is something to be proud of, what is even more impressive is that the Fins did not feature a player on their line for more than one year, that was on that list. In fact, the only player ranked in the bottom fifteen of the league was Samson Satele at center, and the Dolphins made sure to rid themselves of him not long after they took the reigns of the franchise.

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RB Cedric Benson at Bengals Workouts, Wants Back in Cincy in 2011

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 06:11 PM PDT

Free agent running back Cedric Benson has been present at the Bengals’ player-run workouts at the University of Cincinnati over the last week, reports Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“Considering its the lockout it's tough to get football work in,” Benson said. “High schools and colleges are getting their kids ready to go. I saw this as an opportunity to get some real good football work in.”

Benson just finished a two-year, $6.5 million contract, and Reedy writes that Benson reiterated that he hopes to return to the team next season.

The fourth overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Benson gained just 1,593 yards with 10 touchdowns on the ground before off-field issues led the Bears to waive the former Texas standout in June of 2008.

Signed by the Bengals a month into the 2008 season, Benson has rushed for 3,109 yards and 15 touchdowns in 41 games the last two-plus seasons, leading the team in rushing in each of the last three years.

NFL, NFLPA Issue Joint Statement on Labor Talks

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 05:05 PM PDT

The NFL and NFL Players Associated have released the following joint statement regarding the two days of labor talks in Maryland which wrapped up today.

“Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks.”

In attendance on the league side was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as owners and owners Jerry Richardson, Clark Hunt, Robert Kraft, Dean Spanos and John Mara.

Representing the players were NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, free agent fullback Tony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, and Kansas City Chiefs guard Brian Waters.

Pash Says Owners Have Offered 90-Percent Cash Guarantee

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 04:32 PM PDT

NFL chief negotiator Jeff Pash revealed in an interview yesterday on SirusXM NFL Radio that the NFL owners offered players an unprecedented guarantee – an average of 90 percent of the salary cap spent in cash over a three-year period

"For the first time, we were going to have a cash minimum as opposed to just a cap minimum," Pash said. "You understand what the difference means and of course so did the union, which is why they pushed for that. The 90 percent was an agreed upon figure and because of the way teams change over time, we all thought that you couldn't do it year-by-year so we were doing it at on a three-year basis to allow for the fact that teams go through cycles. Everyone on both sides thought that was a sensible compromise. It would have done a lot."

In previous seasons with a salary cap, there had never been a requirement that clubs had to spend a minimum amount of cash. The salary cap floor applied only to the salary cap — not cash spent – and thus included "dead money" including prorated money from bonuses paid in earlier years of player contracts and money that was accelerated from future years for players no longer with that club.

Free Agent QB Matt Hasselbeck Keeps Options Open

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 04:25 PM PDT

Seattle free agent quarterback Matt Hasselbeck would like to be back with the Seahawks, but is prepared for any scenario.

“Nothing's really changed for me since the end of the season,” Hasselbeck said during a Wednesday appearance on “Green & Gold Today” on ESPN Milwaukee. “I'm definitely hopeful to be back here. But at the same time I understand with a new GM, and with a new regime they sometimes want to go in a different direction, and that could happen, too.

“I'm prepared for whatever. Right now I'm just trying to get strong, really improve in some areas on the football field and make a big leap this year physically, and be ready to play at a high level, and hopefully play the best football of my career.”

Hasselbeck has started 131 games for the Seahawks over the last ten years, but hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2007 and turns 36 in September. The Seahawks and Hasselbeck’s agent, David Dunn, were unable to reach an agreement on a contract prior to the lockout, which has led to speculation that another team in need of a veteran quarterback–Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans–would lure Hasselbeck to start in 2011 and mentor their first-round quarterback.

That said, the Seahawks passed on drafting a quarterback, and reached out to Hasselbeck during the brief period the lockout was lifted and contact between teams and players was permitted. Hasselbeck is a perfect fit for new Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s West Coast offense, and a copy of Bevell’s playbook has found its way to Hasselbeck’s possession.

Also fueling speculation that Hasselbeck will be back was his active role in organizing workouts among Seahawks players in recent weeks.

Anything can certainly happen with Hasselbeck, but I’m expecting the Seahawks to sweeten their pre-lockout offer to give the veteran some security beyond 2011.

The team’s long-term solution at the position may not arrive until the 2012 draft, and may not be ready start until 2013. Keeping Hasselbeck around for at least two seasons might be the most prudent move the club can make.

Packers Chosen As ESPN Magazine’s Best Sports Franchise

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 03:03 PM PDT

Legendary senior writer Jclombardi says Packers are ESPN's best sports franchise.

The Super bowl champion Packers are the best team in the NFL.  Now, according to ESPN the Magazine, they are also the best franchise in professional sports. The magazine, in this week's issue, put the Packers atop their annual "Best Franchises In Sports" rankings. ESPN ranked franchises based on eight categories: (1) Bang for the buck (2) Players (3) Fan relations (4) Affordability (5) Stadium experience (6) Ownership (7) Title track and (8) Coaching.  With over 70,000 fans polled for the rankings, the Packers finished first in “stadium experience”, tied for “title track”, fourth in “bang for the buck”, and number five in “coaching” and “ownership.”

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