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Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
The two newest nominees to the Packers Hall of Fame added some credible voices to a growing theory about Green Bay's surprising downturn this season.
Former tailback Dorsey Levens and former receiver Antonio Freeman said Wednesday they were surprised at how distracted the Packers appeared during training camp while in the midst of a messy divorce from quarterback Brett Favre.
According to Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal, Levens said:
"I really didn't know what to expect. I knew the whole Brett Favre situation was going to loom heavy. I didn't know how the players would react, how the fans would react. It was a circus, to be quite honest, going up there in training camp and all the hoopla surrounding Brett and that situation."
"It was more [of a distraction] than I expected. I knew it was pretty major. ... Talent-wise, I think they have a ton of talent. I think the whole ordeal of Brett Favre leaving might have had an effect on it. Next year, going forward, it'll be fresh. Maybe some of those distractions will be out of there and people will be more content and settled in with the fact that, 'Hey, [Aaron Rodgers] is our guy, we're going forward.'"
Again, few people have attributed the Packers' 5-9 record to a drop-off in quarterback play. But you can't easily measure the impact of the bizarre circumstances surrounding Favre's departure. Specifically, players arrived at training camp without knowing whether Rodgers or Favre would be their starting quarterback. And then they practiced for nearly a week before the team finally traded him to the New York Jets.
In Levens and Freeman, you have two respected veterans who were a part of some of the Packers' most successful teams in recent history. They know what a productive training camp looks like. Their observations on this season's camp should be considered accordingly.
Levens and Freeman will be inducted to the Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field next summer.