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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Is Rodgers THE MAN?

by joepackjoe
for PackerChatters

I grew up in GB. In the neighborhoods and townships that make up the greater GB area, there are approximately 10-15 high schools.

There are many football players who go on to play in the UW collegiate system, but I'll bet less than five players in five successful years make the UW team in Madison. A good example is the Samp kid who tried to become a Packer WR this year. From his singularity was born a newsworthy story.

Of those that play college ball, I would say that most don't play 4 years, realizing at some point that they'd rather have a steady-paying job than sacrifice their grades and body to "keep playing". Either that or they realize that they honestly don't have what it takes, and don't want to give so much effort to something that doesn't satisfy them anymore.

I attended the Barry Alvarez summer HS football camps, and went head-to-head with the quality of the wisconsin HS players who wanted to play for the Badgers.

I went to the Univ. of Michigan and spent a year trying to walk on their team.

The players who make the transition from HS to college do so for several simple reasons.

1) they have the size.

2) they played on a winning team/program

3) they know what they can offer the team and thus have advanced "football smarts" for their age

4) they will not be deterred by the otherwise impeding obstacles.

I saw players in the Badgers' football camp receive interest from the coaches for these reasons, and performance and practice habits and the ability to play football simply didn't mean as much from the guys who didn't have the statistics that "A team that wants to win in the Big Ten" desires.

All those players who could play but couldn't get their fair shot had the option to going to a smaller school, or a junior college.

I believe our first round draft choice this year knows very well of that experience.

I believe that our (first) second round draft choice this year knows very well of that experience.

I saw players at the Univ. of Michigan who were on great HS teams, but really didn't care one way or the other about football, use full-ride scholarships to enjoy college to the fullest, while players with the hearts of champions needed to prove themselves time and time again. Within the players' ranks, respect was given to anyone who could play, and every single player knew in their hearts who could and who couldn't play. I met guys who laid out Tyrone Wheatley, and guys who ran routes against Charles Woodson. Of course, most of the times Wheatley and Woodson were the best guys on the practice field... but not always. A few other no-names consistently were just as good on the practice field... but the machine has many cogs, my friends. Only a true warrior can take the beating and keep his head on the game.

At the major NCAA programs, there is a serious bias for local talent. The kids from Milwaukee schools are more appreciated in madison than they are in gainesville. The same is true in Michigan and in Ohio, even though there are more than enough players who are willing to try to play college ball anywhere they're welcome.

The players that make the transition from the NCAA to the NFL do so for two reasons:

1) they can play

2) they have the statistics, i.e., "the stats", that coaches drool over, and they get repeated opportunities to play. (We've noticed as Packer fans that speed is a statistic that currently takes precedence over wonderlic scores...)

Unfortunately, IMO, the statistics are often times more valued than the non-tangible evidence of whether or not someone can play.

What about Terrance Marshall? What about David Martin? What about big-name-program guys like Ron Dayne, David Terrell (WR) or many of the recent Heisman Trophy winning QBs that just don't get the job done in the NFL? What about Maurice Clarett? What about the DECLINE in interest in our new WR from UCLA? Didn't he prove himself at a quality national program?

Not only is it harder for the young guys who actually can play to get discovered and INVITED to try out (I don't think you can walk on in the NFL), they simply don't get the reps that the big-name, attractive stats guys get in training camp.

Hawkins can play.

Collins can play.

I believe very strongly that Aaron Rodgers can play.

There was similar speculation about Brett Favre when he came into the league, but his style was 180 degrees from Rodgers'. "Is it worth it to give this guy a shot?" "Do you REALLY think he can get the job done despite his obvious short-comings?"

The guys with the right stats many and many more times... cannot.

The guys who can play... they not only can... they do.
YOu could say the same for Craig Nall. The only difference is Nall worked through QB controversey everywhere he went. At LSU, Nall got caught up in a battle of 3 QBs that all were on Pro roster. Nall and Davey are still playing and Booty is out and should have never been in the league. Booty had all the H.S. stats, but he played on a 1A H.S. team that had 5A caliber talent. Nall was recruited hard by Florida and Tennessee. Peyton told him Fulmer wanted Nall to be his heir apparent. But Nall went to LSU because he grew up wanting to play in Tiger Stadium. Now at GB, he showed the league what he can do last season with 4 passing TD playing in 5 series, and looked in control at all times. Thus brings in a cocky first round draft choice costing 7.7 million and you have a battle of the bucks. Do you have a 4 year 5th rounder and a seasoned backup in the number 2 spot, or a 1st rounder being paid 7.7 million in that spot. Does he earn it through merrit or does he get it because your paying him 7.7 million?

Listening to Favre on the net, it is obvious who he would pick #2 and that would be Nall. Understanding that, he must see something in the difference between Nall and Rodgers that he would feel that way. But the media is probably looking through rose colored glasses at Rodgers and giving him every break possible. Plus a 1st rounder is much better known that a 5th.
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