NFC North: Bruce Allen

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen offered a very solid NFC North-centric story Monday in a guest column over at You don't need much set-up, other than to know Allen was present for a meeting in 1964 with Chicago Bears owner George Halas, and his coach, George Allen, who also happened to be Bruce Allen's father. Take it away, Bruce:
Of course, it would be irresponsible of me to mention NFL owners and not bring up the original -- the one and only George Halas. Halas' list of contributions to the game is endless. Beside being the leader in the formation of the NFL, his coaching accomplishments will never be surpassed. Ironically, Coach Halas taught me my first "cuss" word.

In 1964 I was sitting in the back seat of his car on the way to Bears training camp at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana while he and my father were discussing personnel and objectives for the team. I caught him staring at me in the rear view mirror, noticing how intently I was trying to follow the conversation. He turned to me at one point and said: "That's great you want to learn about the team, I think it's time you learn your first cuss word."

After a slight pause, Halas looked at my father for approval (not that he needed it). He continued: "You can only use this word on a really bad person, someone you really hate or who did something very very bad." He then made me acknowledge that I understood, to which I responded: "Yes, Coach!" After what seemed like the longest minute ever, he turned around and said one word with an intensity that I had never seen: "PACKER." And then he added: "Don't tell your mom I told you!"

Can't make it up, huh?

Pondering Clifton in Washington

March, 5, 2010
Chad Clifton's scheduled visit to Washington promises an interesting dilemma for both the player and for Green Bay. I thought Andrew Brandt, the former Packers executive who now operates the National Football Post, put it well via Twitter:

[+] EnlargeChad Clifton
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireDon't expect the Packers to wage a bidding war over Chad Clifton.
"Chad Clifton to visit Redskins, whose LT just retired. Chad loves GB, but can't see GBP in bidding war with them."

Yes, it's hard to imagine general manager Ted Thompson bidding against Washington owner Daniel Snyder, if it comes to that. The Redskins have bid farewell to left tackle Chris Samuels, and new coach Mike Shanahan is going to get whatever he wants from Snyder. If it's a veteran left tackle with experience in a zone blocking scheme, then so be it. Snyder won't let money get in the way.

So then you wonder if Clifton, a quiet and introverted guy who has spent his entire career with the Packers, really wants to leave Green Bay and play in Washington's annual high-profile circus. We're not privy to his last-minute negotiations with the Packers, so I don't know how close or far the sides are from a numbers perspective. But if Clifton thinks he can shake more money loose by following through with a visit, he's probably misjudging Thompson's reputation for sticking to his core beliefs.

And in many cases over recent years, Thompson has insisted on replacing veterans with younger, recently drafted players. It has worked more often than it has failed, and I've felt for some time the Packers needed to initiate a succession plan at both tackle positions.

We've discussed this dynamic thoroughly in the past few weeks, and we can only assume the Packers would replace Clifton with second-year player T.J. Lang, a fourth-round pick in 2009. I'm on board with replacing Clifton sooner rather than later, given his recent health issues, but to me it would have to be accompanied by the return of right tackle Mark Tauscher. The Packers could minimize the pain of that succession plan by proceeding gradually.

It's possible the Packers could draft a starting-caliber left tackle next month, but that wouldn't change the worst-case dynamic: Having unproven players at both tackle positions is far from ideal for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense.

We're not at that point yet, but I do think we should take Clifton's visit to Washington seriously and begin considering the repercussions of his possible departure.