That plus Charles Woodson’s future, Rodgers’ contract and the NFL draft
By CHRIS HAVEL
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers fans never fail to amaze me.
Whether it is free agency, the draft or an upcoming game they have an opinion, and generally they also have the Packers’ best interests at heart. The most recent example involves cameras and the locker room.
The NFL has ordered teams to place cameras inside the locker rooms with video to be shown only on stadium scoreboards this season. Commissioner Roger Goodell hailed it as a way for the league to further enhance the in-game experience for its fans.
NFL vice-president of business operations Eric Grubman said the cameras will provide unique content.
“I can see cameras in locker rooms or tunnels or coaches’ facilities before games,” Grubman said. “Fans want it, and clubs can do it.”
Certainly clubs can and will do it. But do fans really want it?
The league will closely monitor the content, so the potential for inadvertently showing inappropriate video is next to impossible. Or is it?
Several Packers fans called into Sports Line to express their desire NOT to have cameras in the locker room. Their thought was twofold:
1) The locker room is the coaches’ and players’ private sanctuary, and that it should be respected as such. They said they didn’t need to see and hear everything that goes on, including the head coach’s pre-game speech, which is really just between him and his team.
2) Why risk having inappropriate video somehow leaked to the media? They point out that it’s not like THAT never happens.
Numerous Packers fans put their team’s best interests ahead of a chance to get an enhanced, in-stadium experience – at least in terms of cameras in locker rooms.
One caller used a “for instance” – suppose Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy is in the midst of a passionate pre-game speech and for whatever reason the video shows several players’ rather salty response?
Will NFL coaches begin to “play to the camera” because they know it is being videotaped and then broadcast inside the stadium? Will this require the “official” pre-game speech, followed by the one that is piped into the stadium?
Some simply wonder where and when the line will be drawn between “enhanced experience” and “invasion of privacy.”
Interestingly, Dallas owner Jerry Jones has been using locker room cameras in this fashion. It is where the league got the idea. Now, it is coming to Lambeau Field and beyond.
My guess is fans will grow to like it, while coaches and players will merely learn to tolerate it. Most important, the league better make darn sure it knows exactly who, what and where when it comes to the videos.
On another video note, the league is requiring all available replays be shown at stadiums during a video review. Home teams can’t simply choose to play video that may be favorable to their team.
Woodson still waiting to hear from teams
Who is slower in pursuit? Is it Charles Woodson trying to chase down a fleet young receiver, or the 32 NFL teams who have shown zero interest in signing the 36-year-old free agent safety?
Woodson told the NFL Network last week that he believes teams think he’s too old to play.
“I’m 36, so of course I’m considered ancient in the game right now, and teams are looking for younger players and trying to make their rosters younger,” he said. “If you’re an older guy, they kind of push you to the side, and they’ll maybe look at you much later on down the road, when I guess they figure they can get you much cheaper.”
Woodson is absolutely correct. More and more teams – the Packers were among the first – are willing to make an offer to a veteran free agent, let him shop it around, and return if there’s nothing better out there.
James Jones is the classic, recent example. The Packers let Jones test the market, and they re-signed him when he received unsatisfactory interest. No hard feelings. It’s just business.
Jones did exactly that and upon his return elevated his game. Now, he’s a starting receiver on one of the NFL’s most potent passing attacks.
Woodson’s albatross, of course, is his age. Jones (27) was entering his prime when he became a free agent. Woodson (36) is well past it.
If he figured in the Packers’ plans, I suspect he’d already be back. Unless the desire still burns hot, Woodson might be wise to walk away with a NFL Defensive MVP Award and a Super Bowl XLV ring.
Rodgers’ contract estimates keep growing
The most recent numbers have Aaron Rodgers’ contract extension in the neighborhood of six years, $125 million, with $60 million of it guaranteed money.
That’s an awfully nice neighborhood, to be sure, but it’s also the cost of doing business. If the Packers are going to be perennial contenders they need an elite quarterback. It’s that simple.
More than that, Rodgers is a leader. When he spoke about being an explosive passing attack without Greg Jennings, he was accepting responsibility and displaying confidence in himself and his teammates.
Rodgers says what he means, he plays at a high level and he wins.
Rodgers gets the money, but Packers’ fans get the prize.
Seventeen days and counting until the draft
The closer the draft, the more impossible it is to predict who, what and where the Packers will select in the NFL draft on April 25-27.
The Packers’ perceived needs have been well-documented. They include running back, tight end, center, defensive tackle, defensive end, inside linebacker and safety.
Well, that certainly narrows it. Based on the old-fashioned formula, and GM Ted Thompson’s history, the Packers will select:
** Big over small (offensive or defensive line);
** Defense before offense (Packers’ defense still the weaker unit);
** Immediate impact versus developmental player;
** Need and best player intersect;
The Packers are likely to sit tight and select at No. 28, then trade up and execute two second-round selections. That means three players in the first two days who should be counted on to contribute this season.
That means a defensive lineman (nose or end), a safety and either a running back or tight end in the first two days of the draft. Like I said, it’s impossible to predict, but too intriguing not to try.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Packer Fan Tours’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.