It’s only appropriate that Clay Matthews inked a deal with a grooming product with a date in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers and safety Troy Polamalu, who has an endorsement with Head & Shoulders. “Matthews has signed a one-year deal with Unilever’s Suave brand,” writes Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The deal includes media appearances before and after the Super Bowl and a production day should the company want to film a commercial with him. Contract terms were not disclosed.” It will be interesting to see what is meant by media appearances before the Super Bowl, which on the surface doesn’t seem like the best timing with the most important game of his life coming up.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Wednesday insisted he didn’t suffer a concussion during the NFC Championship game. “Rodgers changed helmets after suffering his second concussion of the season Dec. 12 at Detroit, and he now wears one with extended ear flaps that fits tighter than his previous helmet and gives more protection in the jaw area, which is right where Peppers drilled him with the crown of his helmet,” writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. “Peppers was assessed a 15-yard penalty on the play.” Rodgers didn’t appear to want to talk about it and declined to elaborate other than to state he didn’t have a concussion.
In other Rodgers news, he called he criticism of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler following Sunday’s NFC Championship game “disrespectful.” “I was real disappointed, to be honest with you,” Rodgers is quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “I’ve known Jay for a few years now and know what kind of competitor he is. I thought it was disrespectful, some of the stuff said about him.”
Reports out of Pittsburgh say that center Maurkice Pouncey will not play in the Super Bowl. “Pouncey is the Steelers’ best offensive lineman and would have provided a solid challenge for Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji, who is playing his best football and was the hero of the NFC Championship game victory over Chicago,” writes Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel. This would figure to be a big loss for the Steelers. Pouncey was a Pro Bowl caliber player in his rookie season.
Jarrett Bush, the oft-criticized cornerback for the Packers, created a lot of converts in Packers fandom yesterday. “It was unfortunate what they thought of me, but what I thought of them didn’t change,” Bush is quoted as saying by Gary D’Amato. “I thought they were still the greatest fans in the world.” By declaring his love for Packers fans and taking responsibility to change their minds, he said all the right things. Alex Tallitsch of Packers Lounge was moved to tears by Bush’s sincerity.
The impact Bush has had on special teams is documented by Tom Fanning of the Packers’ official website. “Through the first seven games, Green Bay ranked No. 30 in the league with its opponents averaging 15.8 yards per punt return,” writes Fanning on Packers.com. “Starting with the Packers’ 9-0 win at the N.Y. Jets, they limited their opponents to just a 7.6-yard average on punt returns in the final nine contests, good for No. 8 in the NFL over that span. Opponents have averaged 8.8 yards on punt returns against Green Bay in three postseason contests.”
The last meeting the Packers had against the Steelers in ’09 was a game to forget. The good news is, the Packers have improved since then. “[Josh] Bell isn’t on the active roster,” writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “He was placed on season-ending injured reserve a week into training camp last summer. Bush, one of the special teams captains, rarely plays on defense anymore. Back then, the Packers were just 14 games into the transition to Capers’ 3-4 defense, and outside linebacker Clay Matthews was nowhere near as dominating as he’s been this season. The Packers didn’t have nickel cornerback Sam Shields and weren’t starting inside linebacker Desmond Bishop.”
The Packers know that tackling Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be a tall task after last year’s game. “Wrangling Roethlisberger will be one of the top priorities for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV,” writes Kareem Copeland of the Press-Gazette. “The 6-foot-5, 241-pound quarterback rarely goes down from an arm tackle or anything less than a full, two-armed grasp.” The Packers missed many opportunities to sack Roethlisberger in the ’09 meeting.
Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, who appeared in a Super Bowl his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams, talked about his naivete on Wednesday. “I thought, ‘This is easy. I’ll be back every year,’” Pickett is quoted as saying by Gary D’Amato. “I mean, how crazy was that?” He realizes now how rare appearances like these are.
General manager Ted Thompson is profiled in an article by Rob Reischel of the Journal Sentinel’s Packer Insider (sub required). “In the six drafts Thompson has conducted in Green Bay, he’s had 58 selections,” writes Reischel. “Fourteen of those individuals are currently starters and 19 others are still with the team.”
The Lambeau Field Atrium, including Curly’s Pub, will be closed on Sunday for the Super Bowl.
The Los Angeles Times revisits the Reggie White signing with Green Bay.
The Packer Ranter muses on cheese and bratwurst.