Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ryan Longwell, Mark Tauscher to be inducted into Packers Hall of Fame

48th induction banquet to be held in July

December 12, 2017

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. announced today that it will induct former Packers players Ryan Longwell and Mark Tauscher at the 48th Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, to be held Saturday, July 21, 2018, in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

Placekicker Ryan Longwell entered the NFL in 1997 as a free agent, first signing with the San Francisco 49ers and coming to Green Bay off waivers later that year. Longwell’s 1,054 career points during his nine seasons (1997-2005) with the Packers stood as the team’s all-time scoring mark until 2015. He connected on 226 field goals and 376 extra points during his Packers career, leading the club in scoring in nine consecutive seasons. His 964 points from 1997-2004 were the most in the NFL over that span, and he holds Packers records for most consecutive games scoring, with 144 games from 1997-2005, and most consecutive PATs made, with 156 (2001-05). Following his tenure with the Packers, he spent time with the Vikings and Seahawks before choosing to retire with the Packers in 2013, at which time he ranked No. 13 on the NFL’s all-time scoring list, with 1,687 career points.

Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft, played in 134 games with 132 starts during his 11-year Packers career (2000-10). A Wisconsin native and University of Wisconsin alumnus, Tauscher made an immediate impact in his rookie year, taking over the right tackle position in Week 2. He started each game the rest of the season and was named to the Football News all-rookie team. Tauscher formed a longtime, reliable tackle tandem with fellow 2000 draftee and now-Packers Hall of Famer Chad Clifton, setting the standard for a consistent offensive line. Among Tauscher’s most significant contributions were helping pave the way for club records in rushing (2,558 yards) and average per carry (5.0) in 2003, and a franchise record for fewest sacks allowed (14) in 2004.

Information about tickets for the banquet, which begins with a cash bar at 4:30 p.m., with dinner and program to follow at 7:00 p.m., is still being finalized and will be released in the near future at

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. Golf Classic is set for Monday, July 9, 2018, at The Bull in Sheboygan Falls, Wis. Please contact Holly Borga at 920/965-6986 or at for more information.

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. is a nonprofit corporation independent of the Green Bay Packers that guides the Hall as a historic national sports venue and educational resource to the Green Bay community and the state of Wisconsin. The Hall raises funds through its annual induction banquet, Golf Classic and other events to preserve the history of the Green Bay Packers and expand its archives. Historic memorabilia donated by individuals to the Hall may qualify as tax-deductible gifts.

Originally established in 1967 as a temporary display in the concourse of the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, the Packers Hall of Fame moved into its own facility in 1976 near Lambeau Field. In 2003, it was relocated to the lower level of the Lambeau Field Atrium, and it was closed in November 2013 for renovations. The Packers Hall of Fame reopened in August of 2015, and is now located on the main floor of the Atrium across from 1919 Kitchen & Tap. Groups interested in booking tours and those seeking additional information may visit the Hall online at

Rex Burkhead sits with Rob Gronkowski atop Patriots’ 2017 touchdown ranks

Rex Burkhead gathered his seventh TD of the season on Monday night in Miami.

By Oliver Thomas

December 12, 2017

Rex Burkhead and Rob Gronkowski have, at minimum, one thing in common.

Through Week 14 of the 2017 season, they share the New England Patriots’ lead in total touchdowns.

Gronkowski’s been there many spikes before, seeing how the four-time All-Pro set the franchise record in October and became the fastest tight end to amass 70 TD grabs in September. Burkhead, though, really hasn’t been since his days at Nebraska.

The 27-year-old running back reached the end zone four times over the course of his 42-game tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals, and never more than twice in a season. But despite missing a month worth of football this campaign due to a ribs injury – starting with Sept. 24 against the Houston Texans and ending with Oct. 15 against the New York Jets – Burkhead has crossed the plane for six on seven occasions.

Seven: Rex Burkhead,
Rob Gronkowski
• Five: Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan
• Four: Mike Gillislee
• Three: James White
• Two: Danny Amendola
• One: Dwayne Allen

In only nine games.

Burkhead posted consecutive multi-touchdown performances versus the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills before getting there once more in the second quarter of Monday night’s 27-20 loss to Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. And with the three-yard plunge out of jumbo personnel, he now has four of New England’s 11 rushing touchdowns after having three in his Bengals career.

He also has three of New England’s 27 receiving touchdowns after having one during his stay in Cincinnati.

• 2017: seven in nine games
• 2016: two in 16 games
• 2015: one in 16 games
• 2014: one in nine games
• 2013: none in one game

Drafted No. 190 overall in 2013, Burkhead handled the ball just 16 times through his first two seasons with the Bengals. And while he became an every-game active in both 2015 and 2016, it was special teams first on a depth chart reserved for Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. In relative terms, it still is for Burkhead, who signed a one-year, $3.15 million contract with the Patriots on March 14.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound multipurpose back has played a higher percentage of snaps in the kicking game – 25 percent – than on offense – 19 percent – this year. In addition, he’s blocked a punt, returned a kickoff 17 yards and registered four tackles.

So, the fact Burkhead is averaging a TD every dozen offensive touches says something. The fact he’s made five trips to the end zone in New England’s last three games certainly does, too.

Burkhead has gathered 252 rushing yards on 60 carries. He’s tacked on a career-best 249 receiving yards on 29 catches. And, at least for now, he can say he’s right there with Gronkowski, who served his one-game suspension in defeat Monday.

We’ll see whether one can take the lead outright next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Not long ago, though, it would’ve been hard to foresee Burkhead even having the chance to.

Al Johnson named ECU Head Football Coach

December 12, 2017

ADA - East Central University Director of Athletics Dr. Jeff Williams has announced the hiring of Al Johnson as the 19th head coach for the Tiger football program history and just the fourth in the NCAA era, since 1997.

"I am excited to present Al Johnson to Tiger Nation as our next head football coach," said Williams. "Al has been uniquely prepared for this opportunity and he made an immediate and unforgettable impression that never faded. I anticipate that will be the same for our players, campus, community and alumni. He brings an infectious passion for leading and developing student-athletes, which becomes evident to everyone he meets."

"I am very excited and honored to be the next East Central University Head Football Coach," Johnson stated. "I want to thank ECU President Dr. Pierson, Director of Athletics Dr. Williams, and the entire search committee for this amazing opportunity."

Tiger fans will have to wait until 2018 to meet the newest addition to the ECU Athletics staff, as Johnson still has to complete his current duties as the assistant offensive line coach at the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers will be competing in the Orange Bowl, Dec. 30 against Miami at 7 p.m.

"Al Johnson brings a unique mix of professional experience and different levels of coaching," ECU President Dr. Katricia Pierson commented. "He brings a great deal of enthusiasm and knowledge of football that will help lead the Tigers to success both on and off the field by believing his players should be equally committed to academics and athletics."

Johnson has had a wide variety of experience as both a player and coach, working at NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III, in high school and operating his own camp. He has also seen great experience as a player on the field, playing for Wisconsin for four seasons and spending seven years as a member of the National Football League.

He started his NFL career by being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round in 2003.
The offensive lineman spent three season at center for the Cowboys and helped build them back to a playoff caliber team, making two playoff appearances.

While in Dallas, Johnson met his wife, Brandy, and gained ties to Oklahoma through friends. The pair decided right after having to move, when he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in 2007, that they would love to return to the state to raise their family.

"I want to make sure the ECU faculty and staff, alumni, fans and supporters know that I am committed to building ECU into one of the premier NCAA Division II programs in the country," added Johnson. "My family and I are looking forward to making Ada, Okla., our home and immersing ourselves into the community."

Johnson spent the 2007 season with the Cardinals as a starting center before being injured in 2008. After recovering, he signed with the Miami Dolphins for the remainder of the 2008 season and made a playoff appearance. He ended his professional career in 2009 with the New England Patriots.

Johnson earned his time in the NFL after being a standout at Wisconsin from 1998 to 2002. The three-time All-Big Ten selection was a Rimington Award finalist in 2000 and 2001, which is presented to the premier centers in the FCS, Division II, Division III, and NAIA division. The Badgers also earned two consecutive Rose Bowl championships (1999-00) during his tenure.

After his time in the NFL, Johnson started his coaching career in 2013 as a co-owner and lead offensive coach of the Al Johnson Line Camp and as the offensive coordinator at Southern Door High School. The camp was designed to develop youth and high school linemen through mentoring and overall character building and served over 1,000 kids in three years.

At Southern Door High School, he helped the team double their total offensive yards, coached five all-conference players and laid the foundation for three-straight conference championships.

Johnson then moved on to the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisc. In two seasons he helped the team to a 10-1 record, coached nine all-conference offensive players and the conference lineman of the year.

Johnson then returned to his alma mater in 2016 as an assistant coach and helped to develop the offensive line into one of the best in the nation.
In 2016 the Badgers claimed the Big Ten West and Cotton Bowl championships. He has coached three All-Big Ten selections and all-American and first round NFL pick Ryan Ramczyk.

This season Wisconsin, ranked No. 6 in the nation, currently has a 12-1 overall record and finished with a 9-0 mark in the Big Ten, with the only loss coming in the Big Ten Football Championship Game. The Badgers will have one more chance to play in 2017, at they will participate in the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl (Dec. 30), in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Johnson earned a bachelor's degree from Southern New Hampshire University in Sports Management in 2014 and is working on his master's degree at Wisconsin in Education and Leadership.

Johnson married his wife Brandy while with the Cowboys and has four children; Skylar Burleson (18), Makayla (9), Cyrus (7), and Chloe (6).

"I want to thank the members of the search committee who served our university diligently throughout the search process," Williams stated. "The rich heritage of ECU and Tiger Football made our position attractive to many highly qualified football coaches and provided an extremely talented pool of applicants. The process confirmed that Al Johnson was the complete package we were seeking in our next head football coach."

Johnson will officially start Jan. 3, 2018 and the ECU Athletic Department will announce dates and times for meet and greet events at a later date.

"I can't wait for the Tiger Family to meet Al, Brandy and their wonderful family as they join us in moving ECU toward future success," added Williams.

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