NFC North: Doug Plank

We're Black and Blue All Over:

If I counted right, the chances of which are about 50 percent, the Green Bay Packers have received five* vaunted ESPY award nominations. Fans will determine the winners based on online voting, so if this matters to you, get busy. Voting closes July 9 for most categories, and the winners will be announced during the live broadcast July 13.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been nominated for two awards, including Best Male Athlete and Best NFL Player. Packers coach Mike McCarthy is among those nominated for best head coach/manager, and the 2010 Packers are also nominated as the best team. *Update: Linebacker Clay Matthews is also a candidate for Best NFL Player.

As you recall, ESPN The Magazine has already named the Packers the best pro sports franchise.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Rodgers' post-touchdown "Belt" celebration has spiked sales of wrestling belts, according to Tony Walter of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • McCarthy, via Earl Vaughn Jr. of the Fayetteville Observer: "When the lockout lifts, we'll attack it like everybody else. We're not interested in being paper champions. We're going to go back at it the same way we always have, working on fundamentals, the things you do prior to the season. Every NFL season is a long journey. The preparation part is important. Whatever block of time we have to get ready will be the same as our opponents."
  • Former Chicago Bears safety Doug Plank isn't expecting an offer to return to the organization as a coach, writes Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Bears' offense is ready to shine, tight end Greg Olsen told ESPN 1000: "For awhile here we've been the stepchild. The offense has always played second fiddle, deservingly so because we've had some of the top defenses and top defensive players in league history. But we feel like we have a good core nucleus of young offensive players and Jay being right up there as the guy. With Matt [Forte] and our receivers, Earl [Bennett], Johnny [Knox] and Devin [Hester], I think we've got a lot of guys who are ready to have a little bit of consistency."
  • Detroit Lions place-kicker Dave Rayner on the NFL's new kickoff procedures, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "If it was, like, 10 yards, I would say that would be a big deal. To me, I think the 5 yards is going to have those guys that already hit a ton of touchbacks just hitting more. Returners are going to bring it out if it's 5 [yards] deep. I mean, they do now. So if you're kicking now, and you're averaging [kicking to] the goal line, it's going to go 5 deep. They're still going to bring that back."
  • Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, via Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune: "The reality is if they were really, really wanting me back then maybe something would have been said before the lockout. I had a good meeting with Coach [Leslie] Frazier and [vice president of player personnel Rick] Spielman at the end of the year. Each side expressed how much I'd like to be here and finish my career here. I am hopeful and hope that I can come back and be a Viking again. But I'm also a realist and I've been through this process before. It's not always up to you and you have to be willing to move on."
  • Fellow Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway harbors no bitterness about the franchise tag, writes Luke Hagan of the Daily Republic.

BBAO: Floating multiple stadium sites

February, 23, 2011
We're Black and Blue All Over:

A new idea has emerged late in the Minnesota Vikings' push for stadium approval in 2011. Instead of razing the Metrodome and rebuilding on that site, officials have suggested an alternate vision: Buying adjacent land to build a new stadium, allowing the team to continue playing in the Metrodome until its completion.

The plan would eliminate the contingency of playing at the smaller TCF Bank Stadium for up to three years. The adjacent land is currently owned by the Star Tribune newspaper. Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has more.

At some point soon, a single vetted plan needs to emerge to give legislators something tangible to consider. As it stands now, there are plans to study the Arden Hills site in Ramsey County, and there is support for at least three different sites in downtown Minneapolis -- the Metrodome, the Star Tribune land and space near baseball's Target Field on the west side of downtown.

Discussion is good. Distracting noise is bad. Without a unified plan, there is no chance of legislative approval this year.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • The Vikings know they are going to be a younger team in 2011, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
  • This draft might not have an immediate, impact starter at quarterback, writes Tom Pelissero of
  • A cornerback or a tackle are the most likely positions the Detroit Lions will target in the draft, according to Tom Kowalski of
  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz tweeted that "I must not be snooty enough" to understand the movie "The King's Speech."
  • The Green Bay Packers have hired Zac Woodfin as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
  • Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on outgoing strength guru Dave Redding, who is retiring: "Redding, 58, can recite in his sleep the benefits of free weights, position-specific conditioning and the importance of balance and coordinated movements rather than maximum lifting. But what makes him special is his ability to motivate players in the weight room, which led to greater on-field success."
  • Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who committed suicide last week, was having a hard time remembering names and putting words together, his ex-wife told Alan Schwarz of The New York Times.
  • Former Bears safety Doug Plank estimates he had 30 concussions in his NFL career, writes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.