Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Category: Packers

Your Packer Draft Preview

Saturday\’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel speculates that the Green Bay Packers may take Ole Miss left tackle Michael Oher with the #9 pick in the first round.  I am now kicking myself, as I was going to do a post last week suggesting they take Oher, which would have made me look a lot smarter than I actually am.

Fans of the author Michael Lewis may remember Michael Oher as the subject of his outstanding 2007 book \”The Blind Side.\” The book traces the recent history of the left tackle in football, and why left tackles have become among the highest paid positions on the football field.  The book begins with a chapter about Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Theismann\’s leg, and how Taylor\’s ability to devastate quarterbacks revolutionized the game.  Due to a combination of  LT killing quarterbacks and Bill Walsh inventing more pass-happy offenses, protecting the quarterback\’s blind side has become the key to having an effective offense.

Oher grew up in Memphis, in the third poorest zip code in America.  He had 12 brothers and sisters, who were barely attended to by his crack-addicted mother.  (His father had been murdered.)  He had been in and out of foster homes, and rarely attended school – yet the Memphis public schools continued to move him through with the minimum GPA necessary.  At age 15, the father of a friend drove him out to East Memphis to try to get him into a virtually all-white Evangelical school, inhabited by Memphis\’ most wealthy families.  When he showed up, he didn\’t speak, and couldn\’t read or write – but his sophomore year, he was 6 foot 5, 350 pounds, as nimble as a cat.  Naturally, his prowess in sports gave him a chance at this school that he may not normally have had.

A wealthy white family in Memphis took him in and made him their foster son.  They pushed him to excel in school, and eventually he began to open up.  He also became the most sought after high school offensive lineman in the country, with college coaches flooding to his school to marvel at his athletic ability.  By the time he graduated, he had overcome his 0.4 GPA to make the honor roll, and he committed to play at the alma mater of his foster parents, Ole Miss.

As is the case with any of Lewis\’ books, Oher\’s story is only partially about football.  It posits some difficult societal questions – how many black kids are we letting rot in the inner cities without an education simply because they don\’t have any athletic ability?  How many kids do we mistakenly give up on because we think they have no capacity to learn, when their emotional problems are mainly a result of their horrific upbringing?  Oher walked into East Memphis a severely emotionally damaged 15 year-old that society had given up on – yet through the love and care of this Evangelical family, he grew into a fully-formed, mature young man.  How many other kids are out there, just like him?

In any event, it would be great if the Packers could draft him and serve as the final chapter in this astounding success story.  It also happens that he\’s an amazing left tackle.

Here\’s a video that runs through some of Oher\’s travails:

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The One Thing the Packers Have Going For Them

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A few years ago, everyone scoffed at Al Gore for his goofy proclamation that the debate over global warming was \”over.\”  Yet I am about to make a similar statement with regard to the only issue in Wisconsin that really matters:  After yesterday\’s game, the debate about Brett Favre is now over.

In the aftermath of Favre\’s whole prima donna act, some of you may have simply looked at the New York Jets\’ record, compared it to the Packers\’ record, and made your decision on the validity of the decision to go with Rodgers based on that alone.  If you have said something to yourself along the lines of \”we had everyone coming back from a 13-3 record, and now the Jets are good and the Packers aren\’t,\” then I have news for you – and I cannot mince words on this – you are an idiot.

Despite Rodgers\’ herculean effort yesterday (298 yards, 3 TDs), the defense and special teams once again let the team down, giving up 35 points – after forking over 51 points on Monday night.  It wouldn\’t have mattered if the Packers alternated Jesus Christ and Barack Obama at quarterback yesterday.  It wasn\’t Rodgers\’ fault Mike McCarthy called a ridiculous third down running play with the fullback on the goal line with a minute and a half left – after Rodgers had picked apart the Carolina defense at will while marching them down the field.

Find me a first year quarterback that has had the success Aaron Rodgers has.  What he\’s done has been brilliant – it\’s not his fault Mason Crosby missed a potential game-winning field goal in Minnesota by three feet.  It\’s not his fault teams return kickoffs to the 50 yard line every time.  It\’s not his fault the defense allows one of the top 3 receivers in the NFC to run free with the game on the line.  Those of you who are dying to be critical of Ted Thompson are actually right – but because he has failed to put together a decent defensive line, not because of his decision to keep Rodgers over Favre.

So if you\’re still yearning for the days of Brett Favre – the one, incidentally, who did nothing in his team\’s embarrassing home loss to the Broncos – then feel free to jump ship and root for the Jets.  We\’ll be over here in Wisconsin with the Pro Bowl quarterback for the next decade, while Jets fans will be dealing with Favre\’s Hamlet routine in the offseason.  And when Favre is riding a tractor in a couple years and the Packers are still competitive because of their quarterback, you can send all of us an apology when you come crawling back.

SIDE NOTE:  Not to make excuses for the rest of the team – because they have been bad – but has anyone actually looked at how difficult the Packers\’ schedule has been?  Not only has it been hard, it may be historically hard. (Also the name of a movie on the Spice Channel.)  Through 12 games this year, the Packers have played exactly two teams (Detroit, Seattle) with losing records.  The other 10 games have been against teams .500 or better (Minnesota 7-5, Chicago 6-6, Tampa Bay 9-3, Carolina 9-3, Tennessee, 11-1, Dallas 8-4, New Orleans 6-6, Indianapolis 8-4, Atlanta 8-4).  Combined, those teams have won 72 and lost 36.

By contrast, of the Packers\’ 13 wins last year, nine came against teams that were .500 or worse:

Philadelphia (8-8), Minnesota twice (8-8), Denver (7-9), KC (4-12), Carolina (7-9), Detroit twice (7-9), Oakland (4-12), Saint Louis (3-13)

Those thinking this team was going 13-3 again with Favre based on what they did last year need to seek medical attention immediately.

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