NFC North: Matt Brock

Shoelaces? Are whoopee cushions next?

December, 15, 2011
Matt Brock had me for a minute. I admit listening to his appearance on a Portland radio station this week with rapt attention, eager to hear how Green Bay Packers offensive line coach James Campen had "encouraged" his players to get under the skin of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh by untying his shoes at the bottom of piles.

I finally caught on when Brock said that Suh wasn't discussing his stomp of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith with Lions coach Jim Schwartz on Thanksgiving Day. No, Brock said that Suh was telling Schwartz how the Packers kept untying his shoes on the field.

I laughed at that point, presuming Brock was just having fun and would probably be surprised to know the story briefly caught a national wave in our Suh-centric society. It would have been funnier if Packers linemen had been trying to tie the laces of both shoes together in true Three Stooges fashion, but that's not for me to judge.

For anyone who thought Suh was enraged by an untied shoelace, I'll pass along what Campen told reporters in Green Bay: "We have more important things to worry about that tying up someone’s shoes during a game."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dietrich-Smith said: "That's a complete fabrication. Complete lie. I was never told anything and there were no acts of that sort. You can go back and watch the film but you won't see me on the ground trying to untie shoes."

I've heard of players gouging eyes and punching each other in the groin during games. Some players bite. Others pull hair. I'm pretty sure Dietrich-Smith would have been the first to untie his opponent's shoelaces as a way to divert nervous energy, as Brock suggested. What's next? Tummy tickles? Oh well, It was funny while it lasted.

BBAO: Matt Forte won't play Sunday

December, 15, 2011
We're Black and Blue All Over:

We've had several discussions already about the extent to which Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte should rush back to the field after suffering a second-degree sprain of the MCL in his left knee. While I'm sure Forte wants to return as soon as he can, it's clear he isn't going to be accelerated by the team's timetable.

An injury of this type typically sidelines a player from two to four weeks. Bears coach Lovie Smith wouldn't rule Forte out for Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, but Forte took care of that himself.

Forte told reporters he is progressing but "not good enough to" play Sunday, according to Michael C. Wright of

This week wasn't really an issue from the start, but Sunday will be his second consecutive missed game. After that, we can truly begin the judgment of whether his expiring contract will impact the timing of his return to the field.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie hasn't been able to connect much with receiver Earl Bennett, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune explains.
  • Teammates still have Hanie's back, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • It's far from a certainty that the Green Bay Packers will have right guard Josh Sitton for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more.
  • The Packers' offense shouldn't change much with receiver Greg Jennings sidelined, writes Jason Wilde of
  • Rookie D.J. Smith looks like a "starting-caliber" linebacker, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints have gone in different directions since the 2009 NFC Championship Game, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
  • The NFL's new G-4 stadium financing program could provide the Vikings up to $200 million for their new stadium project, according to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • It sounds like Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser, the team's longest-tenured player, is headed for retirement, notes
  • Former Packers offensive lineman Matt Brock offered an interesting anecdote in a radio interview about what might have antagonized Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the teams' Thanksgiving Day game. Justin Rogers of explains.
  • Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "Suh doesn't think he owes anyone further explanation, but he owes his teammates plenty. He owes them a hellacious effort the final three games, as the 8-5 Lions scrap to get into the playoffs. He owes them the professional obligation of determination without distraction. Suh's deep pride helped make him one of the NFL's premier defensive tackles. He needs to make sure he doesn't choke on that pride."
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "While Suh said it's important for players to be accountable for their actions, he said that doesn't necessarily include addressing them publicly."
  • Lions cornerback Chris Houston (knee) said he would be on the field Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, according to the Free Press.