Black and Blue all over: Chilly reception
MINNEAPOLIS -- We'll be inside the Metrodome in a few hours for the big Border Battle, but before then let's take a spin around the division on an important and in some cases dramatic Sunday in the NFC North.
Appropriate to our featured game this weekend, Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal offers a fair look at a topic we neglected to touch on this week: The cold relationship between Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Vikings coach Brad Childress -- which seemed to spill over into the public when Childress failed to shake McCarthy's hand after the Packers' 24-19 victory Sept. 8 at Lambeau Field.
Childress said last week that incident was "over-reported," but Wilde's story has a couple of measured quotes from McCarthy.
When asked about the coaches' personal rivalry, McCarthy said: "There's no good answer for that. Let's not go there."
Childress has said he didn't shake hands because he wanted to talk to quarterback Tarvaris Jackson immediately after the game. The pair eventually exchanged telephone messages but did not speak about it. On the issue, McCarthy said: "I thought it was odd. I think it's part of our professional etiquette. So, I thought it was odd. But he called. We exchanged messages."
Just another subplot to keep in mind as the Packers try for their sixth consecutive win against the Vikings.
Continuing around the division:
- In his weekly matchup package, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel picks the Packers because the head-coaching matchup is "not even close."
- Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune looks at Childress' willingness, or lack thereof, to allow his quarterbacks to audible. In 390 plays this season, quarterback Gus Frerotte has called two audibles.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune figures Bears coach Lovie Smith will use the victory of president-elect Barack Obama as part of his motivational speech for Sunday's game against Tennessee. The normally reserved Smith has spoken openly about his support and admiration for Obama.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times has this number: The expected start of Rex Grossman against the Titans marks the 34th time the Bears have changed quarterbacks in the past 148 regular-season games.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press profiles interim Lions general manager Martin Mayhew by speaking to peers around the league. Indianapolis president Bill Polian: "I don't see any reason why he won't succeed as an executive. I would bet on it."
- Lions coach Rod Marinelli has brought up the example of Vinny Testaverde as a quarterback who successfully started a midseason game the same week after being signed out of retirement. The Lions are likely to try the same path today with quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has the story.