Me and Mr. Walker
TCB -
Contributing Writer for Packer Palace.
meandmrwalker@gmail.com

June 28, 2005.   Post-season, post-draft, pre-training camp.  Call it what you want but this is an historically late piece for me.  Haven't been able to spend much time with Mr. Walker these past few months.  I started another new job, quit the old ones, and have just been jammed.  Heck, I haven't talked to my parents in a while.  The Packers suffered a true meltdown to end their 2004 season--the kind of game that in some circumstances can change the direction of a franchise.  This game was a much, much worse loss than the one at Philly last year.  In that game Green Bay was clearly the better team, but let one slip away thanks to a few missed calls and fourth and 26.  Against the Vikings this year, the team was simply atrocious.  The varied from solid (but unspectacular) on offense, to rotten on defense, gave up four turnovers with no takeaways, and even the kicking game was uninspired. Longwell missed one, and his kickoffs were shorter than any game I can remember this year.

This time around we'll go all the way back to the playoff loss, but more importantly we'll also consider the entire season since the last playoff loss.  We'll also try using some war fighting theory to do so, and of course we'll be looking at the offseason and try to figure out what the Packers need to do to get back on top of the NFC.  Finally, writing this piece has been great fun all year--thanks again to the Packer Palace guys for letting me carry on.  If they'll let me I'll chip in with a pre and post draft column and then kick it back into gear when training camp opens.  So when I say Go Packers!  I now mean the 2005 Packers.

GO PACKERS AND THANKS AGAIN!

We begin with what I wrote only a few days after losing to the Vikings...

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January 8, 2005.   We missed a couple more folks.  My apologies again.  This gig is the most fun I have as a writer, but it's also something that I can only do in my spare time.  When I don't have any spare time, I can't do it.  Please accept my apologies if you like reading this piece, and thanks again to the Packer Palace guys for giving me the space.  Also there wasn't much to write about after the Fetid Finale in Philly.  But we're back now, with the usual collection of questionable advice, ill founded observation, and with a bit of luck some good jokes. Onward and forward!  The Packers are in the playoffs, and of course as everyone will tell you, anyone can win from here on in.  Without a powerhouse team in the NFC, any team that gets on a little run and catches a few breaks could certainly make it to the big dance. It appears that the winner in the NFC earns the right to an ugly, John Woo style beatdown by the Steelers, but it's still worth a shot.  Go Packers!

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December 3, 2004.   I always wondered if the NBA hired a top flight scriptwriter to create Michael Jordan's career.  He had the kind of life as a professional basketball player that could have been put together by Aristotle.  Wunderkind learns from sage how to maximize talents, wins championships, falls from grace (gambling and playing minor league baseball), returns from the cold to triumph again.  Of course we left out the Washington Wizards (nee Bullets, which is certainly more appropriate) era, but maybe the NBA had let the scriptwriter go by then.  My guess is that in order to get back at the NBA, the same writer volunteered his services to script the remaining career of every Wisconsin native's favorite Mississippian.  Cruel fate and Freddie Mitchell conspired to derail his plot last year, but it looks like our scriptwriter has been up late banging on his vintage Remington typewriter once again.  A Monday night romp on Favre's 200th consecutive start with the occasional camera shot of No.  4's ill-but-still-very-easy-on-the-eyes wife is the kind of marketing material to make a league president weak in the knees.

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November 26, 2004.   A good friend of mine and big time football fan, we'll call him Seth, once said that it's not a sport if judges are involved.  It took me a while to understand what he meant, because it puts definitely athletic events like figure skating out of the realm of sport. However, these many years later I have to agree with him.  The less subjective judgment to determine the outcome the better.  That's why hockey is undoubtedly a sport while figure skating is an impressive athletic event but maybe not quite a sport.  However, if those figure skaters had to throw a ball in a hoop while being chased around by gap toothed Canadians in pads, they'd be a lot closer.

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November 19, 2004.   Let's hear it for football referees!  Those charming middle aged lawyers and bankers who take time out of their busy money making schedules to chase around huge men and, with the aid of diminutive patches of yellow fabric, control a few hours of semi-organized violence.  Every Packer fan in the world should seek out a football official to give him a hug or buy him a drink this week, because twice in two weeks the Packers have had their feet to the fire only to have one of the zebras help out a good bit.  This week it was a return gaffe by Robert Ferguson, whose fumble sure looked like a guy in purple got it, but the officials ruled it Packer ball thanks to "let me get my roster sheet again" tight end Ben Steele. But just as James Thrash's stutter step last week doesn't really matter, a win is a win and the Packers got another one.  This week, we take another look at the Vikings game, check in to see who is heading from the on deck circle to the batter's box, and prattle on about a few other things.  Go Packers!
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November 11, 2004.   Well, another very much needed win, this time vs. Washington.  As Dr. Favre said, it's a little sad that everyone is so happy to be back to 4-4.  Still, it's better than 3-5 or even worse.  The Packers really do have some hope again, they're back in the thick of the NFC North and in the middle of the muddled and not terribly competitive NFC wild card race.  Mr. Walker and I took a bye last week just like the team, but we have an unusually verbose piece to start the second half of the season.  To wit, we cover the playoff race, the Redskins victory, the upcoming game against the Vikings, and make a series of bold and probably spectacularly inaccurate predictions about the second half of the season.  Beyond that, we even review our first half predictions in the interest of fairness.  Eight games to go, and back in the hunt.  Go Packers!
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October 29, 2004.   The story of Pandora, a typically misogynistic tale from the ancient Greeks, is that Mercury was road weary from carrying an extremely heavy box.  He asked Pandora and her boyfriend to keep the box in their place until he could retrieve it.  After Mercury buggered off, Pandora was overcome with curiosity, and cracked open the gorgeous carved wooden vessel.  Out flew all of the evils in the world.  Among the evils that infected the previously perfect world were pain, disease, war, anguish, and the Minnesota Vikings.  Pandora slammed the top down, too late, and one more thing kept whining to get out.  She finally opened the box again, and out flew Hope, allowing us doomed mortals to survive all of the evils just unleashed.
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October 19, 2004.   Sorry folks, we missed a week there.  I'm writing for a startup arts and entertainment weekly in Connecticut and some personal stuff intruded on my football watching and football writing.  However, the way the personal stuff shook out should actually leave me with MORE time to worry about the Packers, so it may be a plus, at least in that sense. Lots of news in Packerville since I last wrote anything, including the meltdown to the Titans and the shellacking of the Lions.
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October 8, 2004.   It would appear, then, that the wheels are coming off.  Favre's bell is rung.  McKenzie is gone.  The Giants can run for nearly 250 on the Packers.  Nobody is scared of Lambeau at all.  In fact, take away Favre and I wonder if anyone would be scared of the Packers at all.  If any one play typifies the Packers this season, it would have to be the Ahman Green fumble vs. Chicago that was run back by Mike Brown for a TD. Coming in at a close second, though, would be the four yard TD pass to prominent gay basher Jeremy Shockey that, in the end, was the deciding score.  Not only was Shockey shockingly open, but three Packer defenders in the general neighborhood managed, collectively, not to tackle him.  But the cherry on the sundae was Darren Sharper not just whiffing on Shockey, but actually limping off the field after colliding with another Packer defender, I think Bhawoh Jue.  If that doesn't put this season in a nice neat package, I don't know what does.
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September 21, 2004.   Can anyone out there tell me when last the Detroit Lions were in sole possession of the lead in the NFC North/Central?  Was Truman president?  That's where the Big Cats of the Motor City are sitting right now.  I've always said I want to spend my next life as a lion.  You sit around the Serengeti, chilling out most of the time while looking really cool, and every now and then one of the lionesses in your vast harem has to chase down a zebra with a sore knee so you can eat first.  Sounds like a winner to me, and for the first time I can remember in one small sense I wish I were a Lions fan.  Then my team would be leading the conference with a glistening 2-0 record against the frightening Chicago Bears and the positively terrifying Houston Texans.  But then I'd be a Lions fan as well, so scratch that.
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September 17, 2004.   Now that one REALLY makes the 4th and 26 feel bad, doesn't it?  One stop against Philly in the playoffs and then on to Carolina?  Perhaps the Panthers were playing that much better at the end of last year, but to these eyes it looks like the Packer O-line could have decided that game as easily as it decided the first Monday night game of this year. 
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September 8, 2004.  We've finally made it! Pre-season is over, from now on, each one counts.  No Mulligans, no "we just need to avoid a few mental mistakes and we'll be fine," no more seemingly bizarre plays called considering the down, distance, and personnel.  The Packers didn't set the woods on fire in the means nothing season, but they were a grand success in the one place that matters--the injury report.  Other than a few players who would not have started anyway, like Donnell Washington and Chukie Nwokorie and Tim Couch, the Packers had no serious injuries going 1-3 in August.
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August 26, 2004.  'Tis that most wonderful time of the year, when the muggy days of August contain the "it can't get much worse" promise of cooler fall nights, and NFL training camps are underway.  Sure, training camp and pre season games aren't like the real thing, but for a football junkie at least they're methadone.  And having been forced to kick the habit since the draft, even crappy methadone seems like uncut Afghani heaven when compared to Baseball.
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