Saturday, July 15, 2017

Babe Parilli, 1930-2017

Former NFL QB Babe Parilli dies

July 15, 2017

Vito “Babe” Parilli, a native son of Rochester, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for 1960, died Saturday at age 87. His highlight reel would come out of New England, where he played for the then-Boston Patriots from 1961-67, but before then, he made many stops along the way during his 15-year NFL and AFL career. He also spent a season as an assistant coach for Chuck Noll as the Steelers quarterbacks coach in 1973.

The Green Bay Packers drafted him out of the University of Kentucky in 1952. His total time in Green Bay spanned 1952-1953, and 1957-1958. He later played for the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders, throwing for more than 25,000 yards in a career that included two stints in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders. In his late 30s, Mr. Parilli was traded to the New York Jets, giving the 1969 Super Bowl champions two quarterbacks from Beaver County — Mr. Parilli as backup to Joe Namath, who told the Post-Gazette two years ago that Mr. Parilli had been his boyhood idol. “I can remember walking past the Army Navy store on my way home to lunch when I was in the fourth or fifth grade and checking out that Hutch helmet with Babe’s autograph on it,” Mr. Namath said.

Mr. Parilli was an All-American and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist while playing for Bear Bryant at Kentucky in 1950 and 1951.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2003:

Babe Parilli had yet to take a snap for Vince Lombardi. But the Green Bay quarterback already had a hunch things probably wouldn't work out. Parilli, Green Bay's first-round selection in 1952 and a member of the Packers for four seasons between 1952-'58, went golfing with his new coach before the 1959 campaign. On that day, Parilli made one gigantic mistake: He beat Lombardi.

“We were only playing for a dollar,” the 74-year-old Parilli, who's now retired and living in Denver, said Monday. “But afterwards, he threw the dollar at me and said, ‘That's the last dollar you'll ever make from me.’ And before the season started, he cut me.”

Parilli admits there were other factors involved, most notably a young quarterback on the roster named Bart Starr. But if anything, it allowed Parilli the opportunity to go elsewhere and flourish. And that he most certainly did, moving to the American Football League and quarterbacking Oakland, Boston and the New York Jets between 1960-'69.

By the time Parilli's career was finished, he had thrown for nearly 23,000 yards and 178 touchdowns, highlighted by the 1964 season in which he threw for 3,465 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Boston Patriots. “I had a good career,” Parilli said. “It was a good run.” Parilli wouldn't have minded if his run in Green Bay had lasted longer.

In his rookie season in Green Bay, he threw for 1,416 yards along with 13 touchdowns and 17 interceptions as the Packers went 6-6. The following year, Parilli threw just four touchdowns vs. 19 interceptions and Green Bay dipped to 2-9-1. Afterward, Parilli left to fulfill an Air Force commitment and Packers head coach Gene Ronzani left after he was told not to return. “I loved Gene,” said Parilli, who wore three different uniform numbers (10, 15 and 16) during his time in Green Bay. “I think Gene would have been great in today's game because the players loved him. We just didn't have any talent.”

Parilli was traded to Cleveland and played there in 1956. He returned to Green Bay in 1957 and had some shining moments in a Packer uniform. He threw the first touchdown pass in the new City Stadium (later named Lambeau Field) to Gary Knafelc in 1957. And in 1958, he outperformed Starr, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 1,068 yards.

Parilli also sensed the Packers were beginning to put together a foundation for future successes. Although Green Bay went 4-19-1 under Lisle Blackbourn and Scooter McLean in 1957-'58, several of the key cogs who would produce five world championships in seven years were being acquired. And Parilli felt Lombardi was walking into an awfully good situation. “It was hard back then to build a team,” Parilli said. “Today, you've got free agency. But back then, it took time for your talent to come around. And I really thought (Lombardi) came into a good thing. He made some good moves, but he also came into a good situation.”

Parilli could also tell his situation in Green Bay wasn't a particularly solid one. Although Parilli quarterbacked Lombardi's first victory — a 24-17 pre-season triumph at San Francisco in 1959 — he could tell he was squarely in Lombardi's doghouse. “He was kind of a sore loser like all of us were, I guess,” Parilli said of Lombardi. “I remember a game where we came down on the opening drive and got to about the 10-yard line. I took a timeout and went and asked him what to do. And he never called a play. He said, ‘Run it, throw it, whatever.’ I went back to the huddle and (Paul) Hornung asked me, ‘What'd he say?’ And I said, ‘You're going to get the ball and run it into the end zone.’ And that's what he did. He scored on the play.”

Maybe that was the first indicator that Parilli had a future in coaching himself.

When he retired from the game following the 1969 season, he began an extremely successful coaching career. Parilli served as the quarterbacks coach for Pittsburgh and Terry Bradshaw in 1972-'73, he was the quarterbacks coach for Denver in 1977 when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl and he later tutored Steve Grogan in New England.

Parilli was also a head coach in the World Football League in 1974-'75 and a head coach in the Arena Football League from 1981-'93.

“I think the year we went to the Super Bowl in Denver was probably the highlight,” said Parilli, who worked with the Broncos from 1977-'79 and has lived in Denver ever since. “I had a great time in Pittsburgh working with Bradshaw, and I really enjoyed the Arena League. But by the time I was done, I had been in six leagues as a player and a coach. I had had my fill.”

Despite his untimely golfing victory over Lombardi, Parilli has never gotten his fill of Green Bay. He returns every year for Alumni Weekend, stays in touch with several of his former teammates and looks back fondly on his time in the NFL's smallest city. “I loved my years there,” he said. "Every year when I go back, I stop and look at the old house I used to live in. Green Bay was good to me.”

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Offseason Update — Pre-Camp

Updated when transactions occur

ROUND 2 (33)   CB Kevin King* • 6’-3” • 200 lbs. • Washington
ROUND 2 (60)   S Josh Jones* • 6’-1” • 220 lbs. • N.C. State
ROUND 3 (93)   DT Montravius Adams* • 6’-4” • 304 • Auburn
ROUND 4 (108) LB Vince Biegel* • 6'3" • 246 lbs. • Wisconsin
ROUND 4 (134) RB Jamaal Williams* • 6’-0” • 212 lbs. • BYU
ROUND 5 (175) WR DeAngelo Yancey* • 6’-2” • 201 lbs. • Purdue
ROUND 5 (182) RB Aaron Jones* • 5’-9” • 208 lbs. • Texas-El Paso
ROUND 6 (212) OL Kofi Amichia* • 6’-4” • 297 lbs. • South Florida
ROUND 7 (238) RB Devante Mays* • 5’-11” • 230 lbs. • Utah State
ROUND 7 (247) WR Malachi Dupre* • 6’-2” • 196 lbs. • LSU
*Contract Signed

WR Montay Crockett • 5'-11-1/2" • 190 lbs. • Georgia Southern
WR-TE Aaron Peck • 6'-2-1/2" • 239 lbs. • Fresno State
C Thomas Evans • 6'-3" • 305 lbs. • Richmond
G Geoff Gray • 6'-5-1/2" • 315 lbs. • Manitoba
G Adam Pankey • 6'-4-1/2" • 307 lbs. • West Virginia
T Christian Schneider • 6'-5-1/2" • 301 lbs. • California-Davis
QB Taysom Hill • 6'-2" • 221 lbs. • Brigham Young
DT Izaah Lunsford • 6'-3" • 310 lbs. • Bowling Green
FB-ILB Cody Heiman • 6'-1-1/2" • 229 lbs. • Washburn
OLB Johnathan Calvin • 6-3, 266 lbs. • Mississippi State
CB Donatello Brown • 5'-11-1/2" • 189 lbs. • Valdosta State
CB Lenzy Pipkins • 6'-0" • 196 lbs. • Oklahoma State
P Justin Vogel • 6'-4" • 212 lbs. • Miami
RB Kalif Phillips • 5’-9-1⁄2” • 218 lbs. • UNC-Charlotte
LB Josh Letuligasenoa • 6'-1" • 252 lbs. • Cal Poly
CB Raysean Pringle • 6'-0" • 191 lbs. • Southern Utah
RB William Stanback  6'-0" • 231 lbs. • Virginia Union
LB David Talley • 6'-1" • 236 lbs. • Grand Valley State
S Aaron Taylor • 5'-11" • 206 lbs. • Ball State
WR Michael Clark  6'-6" • 217 lbs. • Marshall
LB Cody Heiman • 6'-2" • 229 lbs. Washburn
WR Colby Pearson • 6'-0" • 194 lbs. • Brigham Young
T Robert Leff • 6'-5" • 302 lbs. • Auburn
CB Daquan Holmes • 5'-11" • 187 lbs. • American International

OLB Nick Perry: Five-years/$59M
OL Don Barclay: One-year/$1.025M
OLB Jayrone Elliott: One-year/$1.6M
OLB Jordan Tripp: One-year/$690,000
P Jacob Schum: One-year/$615,000
TE Martellus Bennett: Three-years/$21M
TE Lance Kendricks: Two-years/$4M
CB Davon House: One-year/$2.8M
DL Ricky Jean Francois: One-year/$2M
G Jahri Evans: One-year/$2.25M

ILB Joe Thomas: One-year/$650,000
DT Christian Ringo: Two-years/$990,000
WR Geronimo Allison: Two-years/$990,000
FB Joe Kerridge: Two-years/$990,000

LB Reggie Gilbert
WR Antwan Goodley
LB Derrick Mathews
G Lucas Patrick
DT Brian Price
TE Beau Sandland
S Jermaine Whitehead

LS Derek Hart: Undrafted in 2015
G Justin McCray: Street free agent
DT Ego Ferguson: From Chicago Bears (released; failed physical)

OLB Datone Jones: To Minnesota Vikings
RB Eddie Lacy: To Seattle Seahawks
G T.J. Lang: To Detroit Lions
TE Jared Cook: To Oakland Raiders
OLB Julius Peppers: To Carolina Panthers
DB Micah Hyde: To Buffalo Bills
C J.C. Tretter: To Cleveland Browns

LS  Brett Goode
RB John Crockett

DT Mike Pennel
RB James Starks
CB Sam Shields
CB Makinton Dorleant
RB Don Jackson
RB Christine Michael
P Jacob Schum

Friday, June 30, 2017

Former Packers TE Mitchell Henry dies at 24

Former Packers TE Mitchell Henry died Friday morning after a seven-month battle with leukemia. He was 24 years old. Henry signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 out of Western Kentucky, where he had more than 1,000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over four seasons. Henry didn’t make Green Bay’s opening-day roster as a rookie but was claimed on waivers by Denver. He played two games for the Broncos before being released and returning to the Packers’ practice squad. During his second training camp in Green Bay in 2016, Henry broke his hand and was placed on injured reserve before eventually being released.

After a brief stint on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad in November, Henry returned home to Kentucky and began experiencing pain in his shoulder. An MRI and other tests led to a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the same disease that afflicted the late Craig Sager. A longtime NBA sideline reporter, Sager had been raising awareness of the disease in the sports community since his diagnosis in 2014.

“We were very saddened to learn of the passing of Mitchell Henry,” Packers GM Ted Thompson said in a statement. “During his time with the Packers, he quickly became a beloved member of our family and made a terrific impression on everyone in our organization. We were fortunate to have had him in our lives. On behalf of the Packers family, we offer our condolences to Mitchell's wife, Madison, and his family and friends.”

Funeral arrangements for Henry are pending.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Invasion of the Robots

From today’s Green Bay-Press-Gazette:

Coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t yet added robotic tackling dummies into the Packers’ practice regimen, but don’t be surprised if he does in the next year or two. The Packers are among the NFL teams that have contacted the company that manufactures the dummies, Mobile Virtual Player, though only the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams have placed orders. The Steelers are the lone NFL club that has used the robots in an open practice setting and talked publicly about them.

The robots offer a way for teams to practice tackling without subjecting ball carriers to hits. They can cover 40 yards in 5.0 seconds, change direction well enough to zig zag through cones, and they can spin. They weigh between 160 pounds and 180 pounds and cost about $8,000 each. “It didn’t work out this year,” McCarthy said, “but it’s a good product. You never really want to be first on things, you never want to be last. I think any new product there’s some hiccups you work through. But I think it’s an excellent, excellent product.”

“The people I’ve talked to, I haven’t heard anything negative about them,” McCarthy said. “It’s more about the drill work, how you incorporate. But I think it’s an excellent product. At the end of the day it’s about footwork. You have to work your feet. Guys don’t miss a tackle if you have to get your feet right first.”

• • • • • • • •

The next step — robotic players? That would erase the problems of concussions and life-altering permanent injuries.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Brett Hundley at Road America

Leading up to the KOHLER Grand Prix at Wisconsin’s Road America track, Green Bay Packers QB Brett Hundley spent some time with Team Penske’s driver Will Power and racing legend Mario Andretti. After touring the team’s garage, Hundley was treated to some time on the track in a modified two-seat Indy car. Topping off the experience, Hundley took a few attempts to throw a football through the window of a moving Corvette. Enjoy the video.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

After The Show

Seen here via the Lambeau Cam on a rainy day in Green Bay, it looks like the field’s turf survived last Saturday’s Billy Joel concert pretty well. Compare the photo above to the turf after the last Kenny Chesney show in 2015 (the two images below). The Packers are pushed by the city to have more concerts, but the Packers say that there is only a short window to do them for the turf to be revived before the season.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Training Camp Schedule

The 2017 Green Bay Packers Training Camp schedule has been released, so make your travel plans accordingly. If you have never been to camp, you owe it to yourself to go at least once. You can look back through the Blog Archive in the column at right to last year and view some photos of what camp looks like. As we get closer to camp, we will post some things we’ve learned from a couple of decades of camp-watching to help those who are perhaps coming for the first time.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mini-Camp — Day 3

It was a bright sunny day in Green Bay as the final session of the 2017 mini-camp got underway at 11:30 a.m. Yesterday was also a sunny day until a beast of a storm rolled through northeast Wisconsin about 4:15 p.m., producing no less than ten tornadoes in the immediate area.

Running backs running through the apparatus designed to cause fumbles.

A quarterbacks meeting.

While he was the top dog in this mini-camp, QB Brett Hundley (#7) will still get a lot of work in Training Camp as the team will control QB Aaron Rodgers’ activity.

Wide receivers working through their fundamental position drills.

QB Brett Huntley eyes the Packerville, U.S.A. camera.

Matt Klein, the Packers’ Football Administration Coordinator, is the guy with the voice that you hear booming at practices, letting the players know what is coming next.

Double QBs, a concept the NFL does not allow in games.

WR Davante Adams also eyes the Packerville, U.S.A. camera.

We had heard that it would be a short practice (coach McCarthy thought they accomplished a lot in the last two days), so we thought the practice was over when he called the team together.

But McCarthy had another idea up his sleeve when the players and coaches were told that there would be an egg tossing contest to end the session. Players picked a partner, and then those whose eggs did not break would move back one yard on both sides after each toss.

McCarthy watches to make sure the contest is going as he wanted.

Each time, there would be players eliminated when their eggs broke while a catch was attempted.

The players were really getting into it.

S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (#21) has an egg malfunction.
Green Bay Packers Photo

In the end, the winner was LB Jordan Tripp (#58).

When McCarthy had the players gather again at midfield, T David Bakhtiari (#68) and C Corey Linsley (#63) executed a Gatorade™ bath...

... not on Coach McCarthy, as anticipated, but on the egg toss winner, LB Jordan Tripp.

After they broke the team huddle, all of the players came over to thank the fans that showed up to watch mini-camp practices.

Green Bay Packers Photo

Green Bay Packers Photo

Green Bay Packers Photo
Now, players, coaches, and staff have some vacation time until the first 2017 Training Camp practice on July 27.