We're Black and Blue All Over:
The Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl ring ceremony, scheduled for Thursday evening at Lambeau Field, will be a rare and unique moment during the NFL lockout. The Packers received special permission for players and team officials to be placed in position to interact, which the league otherwise has forbidden during the lockout.
Conversations are expected to be limited to the ring ceremony, but I'm not sure how the NFL can police what people discuss in a private ceremony. I doubt coach Mike McCarthy is going to be handing out playbooks or practice schedules, and so I don't know that this should be viewed as a competitive advantage for the Packers. Consider it a perk granted to the Super Bowl champions.
If nothing else, it's nice to see the NFL work to limit the impact of the lockout on events that happened prior to its start.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recalls previous ring dispersals in Packers history. Players on Vince Lombardi's teams received their rings in the mail.
The agent for defensive back Josh Bell, who spent the season on injured reserve, said the Packers did not invite him to the ceremony. Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel has more.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com notes that the Packers were sized for their rings the night before Super Bowl XLV. McCarthy also told Wilde that on the same night, receiver Greg Jennings began spontaneously playing a piano.
Chicago Bears safety Major Wright apologized for his likeness appearing in an online porn ad, according to Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs on the state of lockout negotiations, via Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune: "To me, it is what it is. The thing that's bothersome is not knowing what our schedule is going to be. Whether this thing is done in two weeks or done in a month, then where do we go from there? We obviously must start the next day. I don't like the gray area. Not a fan of the gray area. I guess we just have to stay strong."
Kevin Duchschere of the Star Tribune examines opposition to two of the taxes included in the Minnesota Vikings' stadium proposal: A 10 percent merchandise tax, which would include memorabilia of other teams in the region, and also a 5 percent tax on any football players or team executives who make $250,000 or more in the state of Minnesota. The latter might be unconstitutional.
The Detroit Free Press has audio of the voice mail message Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz has been leaving for fans.
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com looks at the Lions' Ernie Sims-Tony Scheffler trade a year later.