HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, January 24, 2011

PACKERS DEFENSE SAVES DAY, CUTLER UNDER FIRE FROM BEAR FANS

Word this morning is that Jay Cutler suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee, an injury that would seriously inhibit his ability to plant and throw the ball.

This information has gone overlooked by angry Bear fans who today are burning their Jay Cutler jerseys. Now, don't misunderstand - I am not a Jay Cutler fan. Just in watching his demeanor in television interviews is enough to find him unattractive to the average football fan.

He always appears to be distracted and somewhat annoyed to even be involved in the questioning.

But I agree with another writer who said:

"I was stunned that Cutler didn't return for the second half, especially with their backup quarterback situation. However, Cutler should never be criticized for his physical toughness. The Bears offensive line surrendered 56 sacks throughout the regular season, and that trend continued in the NFC Championship. An offensive line's goal is to protect the quarterback. For Chicago, Cutler is a tackling dummy who'll get sacked a half a dozen times in the first half before being knocked out of the contest.

This isn't the first time that Cutler has been abused. He's only missed one game due to injury after the New York Giants debacle after being sacked more than any other quarterback this season. Common sense suggests that he isn't taking "The easy way out" of a game that they're only down by fourteen early in the third quarter. Not with Todd Collins(notes) as the second option. Not after getting that close to the Super Bowl and potentially silencing doubters for good.

Lovie Smith and the medical staff's decision to bench Cutler appeared to be a good one as Caleb Hanie(notes) nearly brought the Bears back. Hanie's mobility and the Packers lack of preparation or knowledge of Hanie was critical in the Bears comeback. With Cutler, he'd have been limited when trying to escape the Packers pass rush, and his knee could have taken more damage. Now, they'd be risking their young franchise quarterback for 2011.

Cutler's physical toughness should be the last thing questioned. The biggest concern about Cutler was his psychological toughness after being sidelined. Cutler is often shown with his head hanging down and a depressed facial expression. The most bizarre image was of him listening to what looked like an iPod on the sideline. Maybe that was some sort of headset, but I'd prefer to see him interact and encourage his teammates in that scenario, especially with Caleb Hanie.

The Bears should be playoff competitors next season. However, it won't matter if Jay Cutler or Joe Montana is situated behind that offensive line. The Bears must restructure their offensive line and give Cutler and Mike Martz an opportunity to thrive, not die."

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I guess it didn't help that receiver Bobby Wade claims that while in the company of Brian Urlacher last year, Urlacher told him that he thinks Cutler "is a pussy."

Yesterday, after the game, Urlacher defended his quarterback:

Jay Culter offered a "no comment" when asked about other players questioning his toughness following the Chicago Bears' NFC Championship loss, but linebacker Brian Urlacher did the talking for him. Informed that players sitting at home were trashing Cutler on Twitter and questioning the injury that sidelined him, Urlacher fired back, calling them jealous while standing up for his quarterback. Cutler suffered an apparent knee injury during Sunday's game and was forced to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the game at the training staff's behest.

Urlacher didn't take to the criticism kindly, calling out the other players sitting at home with their seasons already over.

"Who cares what they think?" he said. "That's my response to them. They are not playing in this game. Jay was hurt, obviously. There's no reason for him to be out there if he can't get it done. He was obviously hurt pretty bad or he would have played."

"For them to question his toughness is stupid to me."






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Thursday, January 20, 2011

FORMER STUDENTS STAY IN CONTACT

Every once in a while I will hear from one of my former students and happily, most of the comments are about how much they enjoyed my class. My best guess is that the comedian was infused in my teaching style and I always thought that learning should be fun.

The truth is the performer within me continually beckoned to me all during those teaching years. My first year of teaching was spent at Menomonie Junior High School (my home town, So (Welcome Back, your dreams were your ticket out ..)

I worked for Ed Phelan - an Irishman as full of Blarney as I am. In addition to being a hell of a principal, Ed could tell jokes, one after the other, for at least an hour. He, did, in fact, establish himself as a much sought after dinner speaker, which he continued to excel in after retirement.

Somehow for my sixth hour class they had assembled every delinquent, miscreant, in that class year and plopped them down (when I could get them to sit) in my class room.

How bad was it?

Once a week Ed would stop by to see how I was doing. It was probably the noise that attracted him. He'd say: "you surviving these delinquents? What you should do is get yourself a big stick of piss elm ..."

Instead I dealt with the worst of my students with "the sweat box".

Ed really was a mentor to me and once he called me aside and said: "I think you are a great performer and that you should not let that opportunity slip away like I did."

Then that next summer I auditioned for the Wagon Wheel Playhouse in Warsaw, Indiana and was accepted for roles. Trouble was, the shows ran through Labor Day and my teaching contract required me to be back in Menomonie - so I went to my superintendent, Bill Terrill, and asked to be excused from inservice.

As I expected, that got a resounding NO!

So I sent in my resignation papers and took my chances.

To those of my students who have contacted me, thanks, and bless you!

There, I said it.


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HEY MIKEY! RUN THE "Refrigerator, Freezer" Package AGAINST DA BEARS

I awoke from a dream about the upcoming game between the Packers and Da Bears, and it's too cool not to relate. In the dream, I see the Packers at the Bears two yard line. On first down they line up with a never before seen offensive configuration - lined up at half back and full back in "the bone" are #95, Howard Green and #90, B.J. Raji.

At the snap of the ball, A-Rod fakes to Green who leads the way for BJ Raji to blast into the end zone.

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If (and this might be a big if) B.J. Raji has good hands and is not apt to fumble), to my way of thinking this is a great new vamp of the 1985 Bears running "The Refrigerator" Perry when close to the goal.

If it works once, I would run it at least once every time we get close to the goal. Then if they stop it, fake the run and throw a touch down pass to Donald Driver.

No one will have to ask: "Where's the beef?"

I have a dream.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AARON RODGERS MAKES US ALL BELIEVERS

My apologies for not posting since late December, 2010. The failure to post pretty much matches up with the day I cracked my right tibia with another dandy fall on the ice. That makes it two breaks within the same year - and enough!

I want to take a moment to talk about our beloved Green Bay Packers who have played tremendous football despite the loss of such starters as Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, Jermichael Finley, Brady Poppinga, Brandon Chillar, Mark Tauscher - the list goes on and on.

By midseason nobody gave the Pack a ghost of a chance of making the playoffs. But make the playoffs they did, even with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined with two concussions.

I think the first game that made me personally start to believe in the team was our three point loss to the New England Patriots with our able back up quarterback Matt Flynn taking it to the Pats.

Closing out the season with a 10-3 defeat of the rival Chicago Bears made the entire league look at the team differently.

Then we dispensed with Philadelphia's Vick and this past weekend really trounced the number one seeded Atlanta Falcons. we are definitely getting hot, gaining confidence, playing with a minimum of mistakes, and have a quarterback who is fast making history with three 4,000 yard seasons. and he almost reached that almost impossible goal again this season.

We are fortunate indeed to have Aaron Rodgers step into the position so long held by Brett Favre with such panache.

Lambeau field has indeed become Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood


So it comes down to the final obstacle, the Chicago Bears. The one intangible this coming weekend is the condition of Soldier Field. Even the bears players will admit that it is the worst playing surface in the NFL.

How very embarrassing for that great historical organization to host the NFC Conference Championship game on such a cow pasture.

Why isn't the league insisting that the field be re-sodded immediately?

Back in the day, the Packer organization re-sodded when we hosted the San Francisco 49'er championship game. The Bears should have to do the same.

Anyway, congratulations to our Green Bay Packers and to the league's very best quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Good luck, guys!

Packers 17, Bears 10.

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