GREEN BAY, Wis. – Before he said anything else late Friday night, Brett Favre wanted to know this: What were the chances his old general manager, Ron Wolf, gets elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame the next day?

Favre had just emerged from two days of hunting in the woods of Alabama with Steve Hutchinson, his former teammate from his two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and had not read or heard any of the scuttlebutt surrounding Saturday's Hall of Fame vote.

Foremost on Favre's mind was Wolf's possible induction. Wolf, the former Green Bay Packers general manger, is a finalist in the newly created "contributor" category.

"Man, I sure hope it happens," Favre said during a telephone interview. "Of course, I'm biased to Ron."

And then one of the NFL's all-time greatest talkers – and, of course, all-time best quarterbacks – spent the next 20 minutes telling stories about Wolf, the man who traded a first-round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons in early 1992 to bring Favre to Green Bay.

That was one of the many moves that Wolf made to resurrect a downtrodden franchise that had not sniffed an NFL championship in nearly three decades.

"People don't think about it now because I played 20 years and had a great career, but he stuck his neck out to go get me," Favre said. "To give up a first-round pick for a guy who was drafted in the second round, who didn't play and was definitely unproven, and my goodness to hand him over to Mike Holmgren, an unproven guy as far as a head coach is concerned. That was his first move, and it ended up being a tremendous move. [Holmgren was] the greatest coach I ever played for at any point in my career. And I think getting me – and I'm not saying getting me because I thought I was great – just the risk was an unbelievable move, one that no one could see but him."

[+] EnlargeMike Holmgren and Ron Wolf
Getty Images/Matthew StockmanMike Holmgren and Ron Wolf celebrate with the Lombardi Trophy after Green Bay won Super Bowl XXXI on Jan. 27, 1997.
Favre wasn't even sure who Wolf was when the phone rang at his parents' home in Kiln, Mississippi, on Feb. 11, 1992. He had just hung up with June Jones, then the Falcons' offensive coordinator. It was Jones who broke the news to Favre that he had been traded to the Packers. Favre and his brother, Scott, were standing in the family kitchen still stunned over Jones' phone call when Wolf called.

"I had heard of Ron Wolf, but I don't even know if I knew he was in Green Bay at that point," Favre said. "He said, 'Look, I'm the GM in Green Bay and we just traded for you and I want you to know that we're very excited about having you and having you lead our team.'

"From Day 1, there was one thing about Ron: He was always ultra-positive with me. Of course, Holmgren, as a coach you see things a little different. You want to win football games with whoever you see fit, but he knew that Ron wanted me to play. I always felt this sense of comfort that no matter what, Ron's got my back."

Favre
The Packers, who went 101-57 (including playoffs) and won one Super Bowl in Wolf's tenure as general manager, went 9-7 in that first season with Wolf, Holmgren and Favre, who became the starter four games into that season. It was just the Packers' fourth winning season since their last NFL championship under Vince Lombardi in 1967.

In Favre's eyes, the change really began the next offseason.

"Just as importantly, he made it cool to come to Green Bay, no pun intended, and that was because he got Reggie White," Favre said. "You know as well as I do – and no one thinks about it now because everybody would love to go to Green Bay and play – getting Reggie White brought serious credibility to coming to Green Bay. It wasn't just a place to be shipped off to in order to finish your career.

"Look, the players ultimately have to play at some point. You stick your neck out there for them, you pay them lots of money, you give up draft picks for them, and there are so many debacles that you can point to in the history of this league that didn't work. But yet his did. He can't win ballgames for anyone, but he can set the table, and that's what he did. I just think when you look at where Green Bay is today – [current GM] Ted Thompson's another one, he learned from the best in Ron and I think Ted's done an excellent job – there's just a filter-down effect from what he did that makes him unquestionably deserving of a Hall of Fame induction."
MINNEAPOLIS -- A year ago at this time, Teddy Bridgewater hadn't been through his infamous pro day yet. He was still at the top of many draft boards, with some predicting he'd be the most NFL-ready quarterback in his draft class.

At least according to one awards ballot, nothing changed on those fronts.

Bridgewater
Bridgewater was named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year on Friday, winning the award through a fan vote. It doesn't mean the Minnesota Vikings quarterback will win the "official" Rookie of the Year award on Saturday night -- he'll have to beat out the New York Giants' Odell Beckham, among others, for the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award -- but the fact that Bridgewater won Friday's award is a vindication of some sorts.

"This award means a lot to me. I’m glad to have the fan base that I have,” Bridgewater said in a statement. “They’re the reason I was even in consideration for this award. To be able to play the game is one thing, but to also have a fan base is another and I’m very appreciative for that. Playing in The Bank this year – TCF Bank Stadium – hearing those fans chant my name, that was an amazing feeling. Also being able to go out and live out my dream, be able to complete my first season in the NFL was always a childhood dream of mine, so everything paid off.”

Bridgewater dropped to the bottom of the first round in large part because of his poor pro day workout, when he threw without his gloves and gave scouts concern by missing several throws at Louisville. But once Bridgewater worked out with Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, he assuaged whatever fears the team had about his pro day and the Vikings put him at the top of their quarterback draft board with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.

And at the end of his first season, Bridgewater looks to be at the top of his class among quarterbacks. His passer rating (85.7) was the seventh-highest by a rookie in NFL history, and his completion percentage (64.4) was the third-highest by a rookie. Bridgewater did it all at the controls of a dilapidated offense that was missing Adrian Peterson, among others, and fans across the country took notice of that performance.

Considering how much publicity Beckham earned after his sensational one-handed touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys and his prolific statistics, it says something that Bridgewater beat him out. We'll see if it's a precursor to more awards on Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- We're just over 48 hours from the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, which means the festivities leading up to Sunday's game are in their final days. For the cities that will host Super Bowls in future years, though, the preparations are already in full swing.

At the moment, there are three communities that know their turn in the national spotlight is coming, and the one with the most time still to prepare is our own. The Twin Cities will host Super Bowl LII in 2018, and Minneapolis' Super Bowl committee has been in the Phoenix area all week, taking notes about how it might want to stage its own event in three years and doing some public relations work for what could be the coldest Super Bowl host city in more than a decade.

Yes, it's going to be cold in Minneapolis and St. Paul when the Super Bowl comes to town, and there's certain to be plenty said about the lack of sand and surf available for one of the nation's largest parties. (As Minneapolis' marketing folks are sure to tell you, though, there's more shoreline in Minnesota than in California, Florida and Hawaii combined. It's just that most of it surrounds frozen lakes in the wintertime.)

Maureen Bausch, the Mall of America's executive VP of business development who's currently serving as the Minneapolis Super Bowl committee's CEO, knows there'll be work to do to sell national travelers on the Twin Cities. The attempt to reframe Super Bowl LII's chilly climate are already underway.

"I think it's all about people," Bausch said. "If we make them feel good, they're going to have a good time. Arizona's done a good job of that, even in the rain. It's about showcasing our people, our sophisticated marketplace, our innovations. It's about showcasing all that we do in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and changing what people [think]. We're not Fargo -- not that Fargo's bad, but [we're not] the movie and everything."

The NFL will visit Minneapolis' proposed Super Bowl sites in March, and review the city's plans for the event. Nicollet Mall will tentatively host the Super Bowl Central fan activities, while the NFL Experience interactive exhibit will be in the Minneapolis Convention Center. Media day could be in either the Target Center in Minneapolis or the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, though concerns about the cramped quarters of this year's media day in the U.S. Airways Center could lead the committee to consider putting the event back in the stadium, where it has traditionally been.

Bausch said the Twin Cities' Super Bowl bid included events in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, adding the Super Bowl will coincide with St. Paul's Winter Carnival, which is expected to include an ice castle for the first time since the NHL All-Star Game was in town in 2004.

On Saturday, the Minneapolis Super Bowl committee will stage an event at the Arizona Biltmore hotel, where Vikings players Teddy Bridgewater, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo will help unveil the city's Super Bowl LII logo. The group's presence at Super Bowl L next year in San Francisco, and Super Bowl LI in Houston in 2017, will be even bigger, Vikings VP of public affairs Lester Bagley said.

By 2018, the group hopes fans, sponsors and dignitaries have warmed to the Twin Cities as a host.

"Being a retailer, it's your time to buy the very best winter clothes. Come prepared -- it's going to be a fashion show of beautiful winter clothes," Bausch joked. "I feel so bad for Arizona, because in rain, you can't do anything. In snow, we have fun."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Since he was placed on the commissioner's exempt list in September, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has received a steady stream of support from teammates who've said they want to see him back on the field. In that regard, what wide receiver Greg Jennings said in a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview on Friday wasn't that out of the ordinary.

But Jennings' comments caught my eye for a different reason in that they went a step further. Here's what he had to say:

Jennings
Peterson
Peterson
“I don’t know if he’ll be back. I can’t answer that question,” Jennings said. “But what I do know is that if he does come back, he’d be accepted with open arms. As an organization from the Wilfs on down, we all want him back. So, I mean, it’s a touchy subject and he’s been the franchise player – face of that team – for eight years. So it will be a loss, a huge loss, if we can’t get him back, and that’s the nature of this business.”

That Jennings said Peterson is wanted back by everyone in the organization, from ownership on down, is interesting to me. Without knowing whether he's spoken to Zygi and Mark Wilf about the Peterson situation, it's still safe to say the receiver made one of the more sweeping proclamations of support for Peterson that we've heard from the Vikings. Coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman have said they want Peterson back, in so many words, but we haven't heard from ownership on Peterson's future and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Scheffer reported in November that team vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer Kevin Warren had been working with the league to keep Peterson off the field in 2014.

Peterson told ESPN in December that he'd felt the support from his teammates, and that while he'd thought about the idea of getting a fresh start with another team, he had also watched each Vikings game during his absence, imagining how he'd fit in next to Teddy Bridgewater. He also said he knew the people who hadn't supported him in the Vikings organization are, "in the big scheme of things, not relevant.

"There's people in the organization that I know hands-down love me," Peterson said in December. "I feel skeptical, of course, but that has been comforting."

Jennings added another layer to that on Friday. Whether it reflects a unanimous sentiment in the organization is another matter, but the receiver certainly didn't mince words about the Vikings' support for Peterson.
Cornerback Charles Tillman spent time Thursday talking with the “SVP & Russillo” show on ESPN radio, and discussed his desire to return for a 13th season with the Chicago Bears, whether he thinks quarterback Jay Cutler can finally shed his enigmatic persona, and more.

You can hear the entire interview here.

Would you like to return to the Chicago Bears for the 2015 season?

Tillman
Cutler
Tillman: Oh yeah, most definitely. I would love to be back in Chicago. But that’s not up to me. That’s up to the new GM. His name is Ryan Pace. So that’s up to him and coach [John] Fox.

What happened last season?

Tillman: We were a not-so-good team. We fell apart on all levels. We just weren’t a good team. I think the talent was there. But we just didn’t show up on the field.

The organization brought in coaches to fix Cutler. Does that mean it’s impossible to keep any consistency on the defensive side when you go so far the other way?

Tillman: I don’t think it was impossible. I think one of the things with our defense was we didn’t make the plays that we were supposed to make. We missed a lot of layups. There were some things that we changed that just didn’t work out. All the blame doesn’t go on the coaches. It takes coaches and players to make things right when you have it good, and it takes both to make it wrong when it doesn’t go the right way. We weren’t hitting on all cylinders.

Why the change from Marc Trestman to Fox?

Tillman: Someone told me a stat the other day. I think since 1956, this was the first previous head coach that we had. I think the organization is headed in the right direction. I like the hire. I met Coach Fox and I’ve talked to other players that he’s coached. They said that he’s a player’s coach. He’s an unbelievable person, great head coach. He’s a guy that you want to play for. I’m excited.

Can Cutler be a success for the Chicago Bears?

Tillman: I think he can be a success for the Chicago Bears, but I think ultimately that’s up to him and what he wants to do.

Meaning what?

Tillman: Can he take it to the next level? You want to make a name for yourself as a player, and I think he can do that. I think there are a lot of negative stereotypes when people talk about Jay Cutler. I think he can. I think that’s up to him though.

Cutler has underachieved his entire career.

Tillman: You’ve got your theory. Like I said, I think Jay Cutler can be that guy if he chooses to. That’s up to him, whether it’s mentally just taking it to that next level, mentally getting in the zone to where he’s hitting on all cylinders with receivers, players, coaches, leading. I think that’s a choice he has to make.

Do you think Fox will want to go with Cutler as the quarterback?

Tillman: I don’t know. We will see. I don’t know Coach Fox’s mindset. I don’t know what he’s thinking, if he wants to start over. I could not tell you.

2015 Hall of Fame finalist: Ron Wolf

January, 30, 2015
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Even if Ron Wolf's career included only his 10-year run as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, his impact on the NFL would have been monumental.

 What he did in Green Bay had a long-lasting impact. He saved a franchise that was going nowhere. In between the Packers' last Lombardi-era championship in 1967 and Wolf's first full season in 1992, they had only three winning seasons.

After Wolf hired Mike Holmgren as head coach and traded for quarterback Brett Favre in early 1992, the Packers didn't have another losing season until 2005 -- four years after Wolf had retired.

"I think it's one of the great resurrection jobs this league has ever seen," said Bob Harlan, the former Packers president who hired Wolf on Nov. 27, 1991. "We had 24 years of mediocre football, and we had a fan base that was very upset and a fan base that was thinking we were never going to succeed again."

Wolf's impact on the Packers was so great that in 2006 Harlan put his name up on the ring of honor in the newly renovated Lambeau Field, something that previously had been reserved only for those in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"The fact that we were successful on the football field in the late 1990s was a big factor in us passing the stadium [renovation] referendum," Harlan said. "If we didn't have that stadium, I don't know where this franchise would be. It totally stabilized the financial future, and Ron and the success we had was a big part of that."

But there's more to Wolf than just his decade-long run with the Packers, which included two Super Bowl appearances (with one victory). He spent 23 years helping to build the Raiders' roster that won nine division titles and played in eight AFL/AFC Championship Games and three Super Bowls. At age 37, he was hired as GM of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wolf and Bill Polian are finalists in the contributor category.
The anchor of the Minnesota Vikings' offensive lines during the most successful seasons in team history, center Mick Tingelhoff is a finalist for the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, the only nominee from the senior committee.

Tingelhoff's durability was a legendary component of Bud Grant's teams; he started 240 consecutive games, and at the time of his retirement that streak was second in NFL history only to teammate Jim Marshall. The center played through injuries that would have sidelined many players, made six Pro Bowls and was voted a first-team All-Pro five times. He started for each of the Vikings' four Super Bowl teams and had his number retired by the team in 2001. It's been suggested that Tingelhoff, now 74, has waited this long for enshrinement because of the Vikings' four Super Bowl losses, but his chances appear to be good this time. Forty of the 54 senior candidates have been voted into the Hall of Fame, and four of the other 14 were inducted after being nominated a second time.

If Tingelhoff is selected, he would be the 16th former Vikings player to reach the Hall of Fame, along with Grant, former coach Norm Van Brocklin and former general manager Jim Finks. Kicker Morten Andersen, who spent the 2004 season with the Vikings, is a finalist, as is Tony Dungy, who was the Vikings' defensive coordinator from 1992-95.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Well, at least we can see Adrian Peterson is healthy.

The suspended Minnesota Vikings running back tweeted a picture of himself and his wife Ashley at comedian Kevin Hart's show in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday night. After the show, Hart challenged Peterson to a race in the middle of the street. The comedian -- who was named the MVP of the 2012 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game -- got an early lead on Peterson, but the running back pulled away at the end.

Peterson could be in Minneapolis on Friday, when U.S. District Court judge David Doty will hear the NFLPA's lawsuit against the NFL on his behalf. Peterson said in December he'd been working out through his time on the commissioner's exempt list and his suspension. It's tough to take much from a late-night race in street clothes -- other than a laugh or two -- but it'll pass as visual evidence that the running back is in good shape.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings' new stadium is quickly taking shape in the eastern part of downtown Minneapolis on the former site of the Metrodome. And when it opens in 2016, it will have a first-of-its-kind lighting system.

The Vikings' new stadium will be the first to install LED lighting during its initial construction, the team announced this week. The lighting system is designed to use 75 percent less energy than traditional systems and can be color-tuned to provide a clearer view of the playing field, both in the stadium and on TV.

Two other facilities -- including University of Phoenix Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl this weekend -- have installed LED lighting, but no facility has installed LED lighting during construction before the Vikings' stadium. The team will partner with Syracuse, New York-based Ephesus Lighting to install the system.

"From day one this stadium has been designed with the fan experience in mind, so it was logical to select an LED Lighting solution,” Vikings president Mark Wilf said in a press release. “We selected Ephesus after careful consideration of the other available options based upon their track record of developing innovative solutions and their ability to meet our requirements for having a positive impact on the fan experience.”

The Vikings' new stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl LII in 2018, as well as the NCAA men's basketball Final Four in 2019. The stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2016, is already more than 35 percent complete.

NFL Nation TV talks Hall of Fame

January, 29, 2015
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Join us at 3 p.m. ET, 12 p.m. PT Thursday for the second special NFL Nation TV Super Bowl Week Spreecast.

Episode No. 42 will review ESPN.com's recent joint venture with Pro Football Focus, which broke down how many "above-average" players each team is from contending for the Super Bowl.

The crew will also preview the Super Bowl matchup between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and three-time winner New England Patriots as well as break down how the Pro Football Hall of Fame's upcoming class may shake out Saturday.

Host Paul Gutierrez (ESPN Nation's San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) and ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando, both of whom are among the Hall's 46 selectors.

 

Veteran NFL kicker Jay Feely thinks “Jay Cutler can win on the field,” but questioned the quarterback’s ability to assume a true leadership role for the Chicago Bears.

Feely
Cutler
Feely signed with the Bears back in December as a replacement for starter Robbie Gould, who suffered a season-ending right quadriceps injury. Feely was asked during Mad Dog Sports Radio on Wednesday whether he believes Cutler is capable of developing into the club’s answer at the position.

“Not as a leader, no,” Feely said. “That’s not who he is. You’re going to have a vacuum there. So you have to know that as a general manager or a head coach, ‘Hey, we’re not going to have that leadership from this position, so we’ve really got to have other guys that are going to step up and are going to be our verbal leaders.”

Cutler didn’t serve in such a capacity during the 2014 season, according to Feely, who mentioned the quarterback and former head coach Marc Trestman lacked leadership. Cutler set the franchise’s single-season record for completions (370), and hit career highs in completion percentage (66) and passing touchdowns (28) last season. However, Cutler also tied Philip Rivers for throwing the most interceptions in the NFL with 18. Cutler also lost six fumbles to lead the league in turnovers.

Trestman benched Cutler for a Dec. 21 loss to the Detroit Lions in favor of Jimmy Clausen.

“I think with Marc Trestman, he was a little awkward when he spoke,” Feely said. “So, he really didn’t connect with guys. You can have that as a coach if you have a strong locker room. If you don’t have leaders in the locker room, [and] you don’t have a coach who really inspires, then you end up having a losing season.”

The same could be said for lacking leadership at the quarterback position, according to Feely. Cutler passed for 3,212 yards in 2014, which ranked as the most in his six years with the Bears and second best of his career. But the Bears need more than solid statistics at the position.

“Here’s my thing with quarterbacks in general,” Feely said. You are the person that every guy in that locker room looks to. When there’s a problem, they look to the quarterback. They want the quarterback to lead. When you have a quarterback who doesn’t like to lead, it leaves a hole in the team. When a quarterback is not a leader, there’s always going to be a vacuum there. Jay Cutler can win on the field, but he would be so much better and the team would be so much better if you’re a leader off the field as well. And I never saw him lead verbally. If he doesn’t want to do that, he doesn’t want to be that person, it’s not in his DNA, then you’re always going to have a vacuum there that somebody else needs to step into and fill.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It might be more than a week before we know coach Mike McCarthy's plan to fix the Green Bay Packers' dreadful special-teams unit.

McCarthy would not offer specifics on Wednesday, when he held his season wrap-up news conference, other than to say everything will be scrutinized before any decisions are made.

All the assistant coaches, including embattled special-teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, were given this week off.

"It's important to evaluate," said McCarthy, whose offseason work was delayed by the unexpected death of his younger brother last week. "I obviously haven't had that opportunity. So we'll look at everything. We'll look at every job description, every job responsibility, performance – mine included – and we'll look to make changes."

McCarthy said it usually takes him a week to conduct his end-of-season meetings and evaluations with his coaching staff.

[+] EnlargeJon Ryan
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJon Ryan's fake-punt touchdown pass in the NFC Championship Game was another special-teams breakdown for the Packers.
There's reason to think McCarthy could keep Slocum, but possibly in another capacity or with other changes to help his special teams, which was ranked last in the Dallas Morning News' annual rankings.

McCarthy and Slocum have a long history, having first worked together at the University of Pittsburgh in 1990, and McCarthy has fired only one coordinator in his nine seasons as head coach and none since he parted ways with Bob Sanders, who ran the defense from 2006-08.

Last offseason, the Packers fired special-teams assistant Chad Morton and hired veteran coach Ron Zook to help Slocum. They also assigned another member of the staff, Jason Simmons, to assist with special teams.

A poor season on special teams, which included having seven kicks blocked in the regular season, became worse in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Two plays – the Seahawks' fake field goal in the third quarter and their onside kick in the fourth quarter – turned out to be major turning points.

McCarthy discussed the fake field goal at length on Wednesday but was not asked about the onside kick, which went off the hands of tight end Brandon Bostick, who was supposed to block on the play, and was recovered by the Seahawks with 2:07 left in regulation.

At the Super Bowl this week, Seattle punter Jon Ryan, who played for the Packers from 2006-07, said the key to pulling off the fake field goal was to dupe linebackers Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk. Jones sold out hard for the block, and Hawk was left to decide whether to play Ryan as a ball career or drop into coverage against eligible lineman Garry Gilliam, who caught the 19-yard touchdown pass from Ryan with 4:44 left in the third quarter for Seattle's first points of the game.

It appeared to be a case of Seahawks special teams coordinator Brian Schneider outdueling Slocum.

"Fakes are risky," McCarthy said. "And Jon Ryan can run; we know that. I think from the responsibility standpoint, pursuit and so forth, I think it would've been a foot race for the first down. We did not execute our particular responsibilities as best we can, and they had a better play call than what we had called.

"Special teams has been no different than offense and defense," McCarthy added. "It comes down to healthy scheme, knowing your opponent. You're looking for the personnel matchups and ultimately executing the fundamentals. Our special-team errors have been critical more because of the timing of it. It definitely showed up in the Seattle game."

McCarthy said Wednesday that continuity on his coaching staff is important but added that "there's devils involved with that, too. You have to fight to complacency."

"We'll look to adjust or change and whatever we need to if we think it’s going to help us be better," McCarthy said.

That process starts now.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The biggest task for Mike McCarthy -- after he decides whether or not to fire special teams coach Shawn Slocum -- might be to figure out how to keep the Green Bay Packers' overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game from ruining his team for the future.

There may no more important task facing him this offseason.

[+] EnlargeMike McCarthy
Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini"The only way you benefit from that experience is you have to be able to learn from the victories and defeats," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at his season-ending news conference.
"The 2015 football team will not bear the burden of what happened in 2014 or before that," McCarthy said Wednesday during his half-hour news conference to wrap up the season. "That's not the way we operate. We won't internalize the things that go on outside our building. We're going to create another opportunity to build the best football team that we can in 2015, and we're going to go for it."

The magnitude of the defeat -- one that quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game is "going to be a missed opportunity that we'll probably think about for the rest of my career" -- has not diminished in the 10 days since the 28-22 overtime loss occurred.

The details of the collapse -- from the fake field goal the Seahawks ran for a touchdown to safety Morgan Burnett's decision (at Julius Peppers' behest) to go down rather than return his fourth-quarter interception to a pair of three-and-out possessions with a 12-point lead in the final six minutes to the botched onside kick recovery and so on -- have been rehashed ad nauseam.

That's not likely to change between now and when training camp opens next season.

"It will be a positive," McCarthy said. "Every game you compete in is a unique experience, and the only way you benefit from that experience is you have to be able to learn from the victories and defeats. That's the mind-set of an alpha; that's the mindset of a champion. That will never change."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy will speak to reporters this afternoon for the first time since his news conference immediately following the Green Bay Packers' loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

He was scheduled to do so last Wednesday, but his season-ending news conference was postponed following the unexpected death of his brother in Pittsburgh.

Before McCarthy's news conference, he issued the following statement:

"On behalf of the entire McCarthy and Grumbine families, I would like to thank all those who have offered their condolences and support since my brother Joseph passed last week. The outpouring of support we have received from the Pittsburgh and Green Bay communities, the Packers family and fans, as well as the NFL community, has been overwhelming and greatly appreciated. Thank you for the love and respect that you have shown our families, and may God bless you all."
MINNEAPOLIS -- It appears the Minnesota Vikings' efforts to land another receiver named Carter will come up empty-handed.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday evening that Montreal Alouettes receiver Duron Carter -- a CFL All-Star and the son of Vikings Hall of Famer Cris Carter -- is closing in on an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts. After Carter worked out with the Vikings on Jan. 9, he said the team was at the top of his list, along with the Colts, and it's believed Carter was being offered a three-year deal with a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $100,000. That's big money for a CFL receiver, and when Carter narrowed his list down to two teams late last week, the Vikings appeared to still be in the thick of things.

[+] EnlargeCarter
Claus Andersen/Getty ImagesIt appears CFL star Duron Carter, the son of Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, will not be joining the Vikings.
There are some valid reasons for Carter to head to Indianapolis, though, and as you might expect, the biggest one wears No. 12. Andrew Luck directed the league's most prolific passing offense last season, and the Colts' receiver group could be in flux with Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks possibly on the way out. Carter also has a couple former college teammates on the Colts' roster in linebacker Jonathan Newsome and running back Trent Richardson. And while he'll always be compared to his father on some level, those comparisons would be much louder in Minnesota. If part of Carter's motivation was a desire to forge his own path, there's something to be said for that.

What we can draw from the process, though, is further confirmation the Vikings are in the market for a receiver. They'd stayed in touch with Carter since his rookie camp tryout two years ago, and they liked the idea of pairing him with Teddy Bridgewater. There will be other avenues available to the Vikings if they want a playmaking wideout this offseason. The team is still hoping Cordarrelle Patterson can emerge in Year 3, though it remains to be seen if he'll work in more of a specialty role than as a split end. Players like Louisville's DeVante Parker and West Virginia's Kevin White could be options with the 11th overall pick, and there's plenty of talent among this year's group of unrestricted free agents. If Carter does indeed finalize a deal with the Colts -- as it appears he will -- the Vikings will have lots of other options this spring.

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