Thursday, February 28, 2008

Colin Cole Receives Elevated Tender

By Pete Dougherty

February 28, 2008

Thompson has until today to determine what tender, if any, to offer his two restricted free agents to retain the rights to match any offer they sign or receive compensation: defensive tackle Colin Cole, whose agent is Neil Cornrich of NC Sports, and running back Vernand Morency.

An NFL source said the Packers will place the second-round tender of $1.47 million on Cole, meaning they'll get a second-round pick if another team signs him and they don't match. The best guess is the Packers will put the low tender of $927,000 on Morency, which means they'll get a pick in the round Morency was drafted (third) if another team signs him and they don't match.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Neil Cornrich a Guest Expert on Sirius NFL Radio

February 26, 2008 associate editor Jason Feller sat with Pat Kirwan and Vic Carucci during their "End Zone" show on Sirius Satellite Radio live from the Scouting Combine. The following observations were gleaned with help from their conversations with Colts president Bill Polian and agent Neil Cornrich.

Rookie wage scale

The increasing price tag on high draft picks has become a growing issue in recent years.

Rookies at the top of the draft consistently become the highest paid players at their positions, without ever having played a snap at the pro level.

QB JaMarcus Russell, last year's No. 1 overall pick, signed a contract that reportedly included some $29 million in guaranteed money, then started only one game and appeared in only three others.

The concern is two-fold. First, teams are concerned about investing so much money and salary-cap space in an unproven player. Second, veterans who were not drafted high but who have produced at a high level often make far less than top rookies who might never pan out in the NFL.

Colts president Bill Polian voiced his displeasure with the system on the show and went into further detail about his frustrations in an interview with the Associated Press .

The model that comes up as a potential replacement is the NBA system in which rookies are slotted into set compensation levels based on where they are drafted.

According to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement: "Each Rookie Scale Contract between a Team and a First Round Pick shall cover a period of two (2) Seasons, but shall have an Option in favor of the Team for the player's third Season and a second Option in favor of the Team for the player's fourth Season."

That system helps offset the risk involved in making high draft choices and also gives a larger portion of the pie to veteran players who have proven their abilities.

However, not everyone likes the idea of a rookie salary scale.

Agent Neil Cornrich offered his dissenting opinion during the show.

He asserted that the only reason the concept of a draft was palatable to players at all was because of the high level of compensation. He noted that players coming out of college forfeit the right to negotiate with the team of their choice by applying for the draft. Without the big contracts provided in the current system, surrendering that freedom of choice to the draft concept would not be in the players' best interests.

Cornrich added that the rookie contracts help veterans get better deals by setting a standard for the market.

Whichever side you're on, the fact is this issue is far from resolved and will continue to linger as rookie contracts continue to grow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oklahoma’s Stoops set to earn $6 million in ‘08

Iowa's Ferentz signs one-year contract extension

February 22, 2008

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops is on track to earn $6 million this year, including a $3 million bonus on Dec. 31 for coaching at the university for 10 seasons.

Details of his contract, including the $3 million "stay bonus," were also reported when the university regents approved the pay plan in June.

"People may question why we do certain things," Castiglione said. "But we can measure his impact, not just with success on the field, but the way our team generates interest and excitement because of the leadership of the head coach. He positively affects so many elements of the athletic program, campus community and the state you could talk about it from the infusion of excitement to the economic impact.

"Bob Stoops is worth every penny and always has been and always will be."

The year before Stoops arrived in Norman, OU generated $26.1 million in athletic revenues, according to figures provided by the school. In 2006-07 Stoops' eighth season at OU the athletic department generated $66.3 million in revenues, with football directly accounting for $28.5 million.

"The people who are generating the revenue, why on Earth wouldn't they share in it? Because without them, we wouldn't have any of it," Castiglione said.

• Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has been given a one-year contract extension. The agreement, which will not include a raise or any other changes to his current deal, will keep Ferentz signed through June 2013. He has an average annual salary of $2.84 million. Ferentz is 61-49 in nine seasons with the Hawkeyes.

Bob Stoops' Salary Raises NFL Eyebrows

By Michael David Smith

February 22, 2008

There's a story at the bottom of Page 4C of the weekend edition of USA Today headlined, "Oklahoma's Stoops set to earn $6 million in '08." It's a short story that ordinarily wouldn't garner much attention.

But 32 NFL head coaches and a few hundred assistants are in Indianapolis right now, staying in hotels that give them free copies of USA Today, and I've heard a few NFL coaches taking note of the story, which details the compensation given to Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops.

There's a sense, at least among a couple of NFL coaches, that if Stoops is worth $6 million a year, NFL coaches must be worth more than that. After all, while Oklahoma's football program brings in a lot of money, it doesn't make nearly as much as NFL teams make.

Of course, Oklahoma doesn't have to bother with that pesky little NFL problem known as "paying the players," so more money can go to Stoops. But there's no doubt that NFL coaches are taking note of what their college brethren are making.

Former Michigan teammate has kind words for Patriots' Woods

February 25, 2008

By Shalise Manza Young

INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan safety Jamar Adams is a big fan of his former teammate and current Patriot linebacker Pierre Woods.

“Pierre is a great guy,” Adams said yesterday of the special-teams player. “The best thing about Pierre is he is a genuine guy; he always cares about Michigan and the former players. I like to talk to Pierre, see how he is doing, get a feel on how the NFL is treating him. I talk to him maybe once a month, not too much. He has a lot of things to take care of.”

Woods, who as an undrafted player would know better than most, advised Adams not too worry about where he gets drafted, telling him as long as he gets a foot in the door to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stoops "Worth Every Penny" of Six Million

By Jake Trotter

February 21, 2008

NORMAN — Bob Stoops is about to become a $6 million coach.

Stoops, 47, is scheduled to receive a one-time $3 million benefit on Dec. 31 this year for coaching at OU 10 seasons, according to his contract obtained by The Oklahoman through the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

That $3 million benefit, combined with more than $2.77 million he'll receive in guaranteed compensation, along with additional income he could gain from various performance bonuses, means that Stoops could earn more than $6 million in 2008.

Sooner athletic director Joe Castiglione admits that figure could invite criticism of OU having misplaced priorities.

"People may question why we do certain things,” Castiglione said. "But we can measure his impact, not just with success on the field, but the way our team generates interest and excitement because of the leadership of the head coach. He positively affects so many elements of the athletic program, campus community and the state — you could talk about it from the infusion of excitement to the economic impact.”

"Bob Stoops is worth every penny and always has been and always will be.”

Castiglione points to the numbers to support his claim.

The year before Stoops arrived in Norman, OU generated only $26.1 million in athletic revenues, according to figures provided by the school.

In 2006-07 — Stoops' eighth season at OU — the athletic department generated $66.3 million in revenues, with football directly accounting for $28.5 million.

That doesn't include another $18 million in contribution, advertising and licensing dollars that football likely had a big hand in landing.

In contrast, of the $65.9 million in athletic expenses for 2006-07, football required only $15.1 million, meaning that without football OU athletics would be operating at a significant deficit.

For that reason, football is why OU has continued to not only balance its athletics budget, but is among only a handful of athletic departments to also turn a yearly profit.

The OU athletics department has contributed roughly $4 million from football ticket sales to "academic enhancements,” according to the school.

OU athletics also has the goal of finishing a $1 million endowment for the library.

"If that doesn't tell the story, I don't know what does,” Castiglione said.

"We really feel our financial model is more in line with the expectations of higher education, intercollegiate athletics and the institutional mission.”

Why Stoops is ‘the difference'

Back in 2005, the OU Board of Regents approved Stoops' $3 million benefit when renegotiating his contract through the 2011 season — just a few months after Florida made a strong push to snag Stoops as its head coach.

Since, the university has been contributing an average of $750,000 a year toward the $3 million benefit.

"The people who are generating the revenue, why on Earth wouldn't they share in it? Because without them, we wouldn't have any of it,” Castiglione said.

"I know Bob Stoops well enough that he would never make any one person including himself the difference in anything.

"But it's fair to say the program he leads is the difference between us having a broad-based athletic program that can be successful and give each of our student-athletes the chance to compete for a championship, to provide a myriad of resources to support them from the academic center to being able to travel that's comparable to other programs. All of these things do have a tie back to the success of our football program.”

Kampman Reaches out to American Soldiers

February 20, 2008

From the football field to Fort Riley...Green Bay Packer Aaron Kampman suited up in Army green for a tour of some military training.

Soldiers from Fort Riley welcomed Kampman, a pro bowl defensive end as he visited some of the sites where soldiers trained for wartime situations.

"Being able to visit our service men and women in different areas different branches is great, alot of these soldiers are going down range really soon to be able to see their sacrifice that's involved.. the strength just say thank you,"says Kampman.

Kampman also spoke at Fort Riley's national prayer luncheon about his religous faith and where it comes from.

Kampman says, "my faith in the Lord is my motivation to play hard, the bible says whatever you do with all your heart is for the Lord and not for man and so I think that's the ultimate call to play and actually be an example of someone that plays in an extremely intense manner because I'm working, playing for a higher being."

"Everybody looks up to him not only because he's a leader as a football player, but as a man and as a spiritual leader on his team, we wanted to bring that same message here for our troops," says LTC Chaplain Brent Causey, Fort Riley.

Clark agrees to 6-year deal with Colts

By Mike Chappell

February 21, 2008

Dallas Clark might have the distinction of being a "franchise player" for the shortest time in NFL history.

The veteran tight end, who was "tagged'' by the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday, agreed Wednesday to a six-year contract with the team.

Financial details were not immediately available, but it's believed the deal makes Clark the NFL's highest-paid tight end. It most certainly provides him a more favorable salary-cap number. The one-year franchise designation carried a $4.522 million price.

"We've been working on this deal since the fall,'' said Neil Cornrich of NC Sports, Clark's agent. "Dallas had indicated to me and to the Colts a strong desire to remain a Colt for his entire career, if that was possible."

The Colts clearly agreed and, according to Cornrich, "we were able to get this done.''

Clark, 28, is coming off the most productive season of his five-year career: 58 receptions, 616 yards, 11 touchdowns. The receptions and TDs broke the single-season club records of Hall of Famer John Mackey.

Clark is the latest Colt to move to the top or near the top of his position leaguewide in terms of financial compensation. He joins quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, defensive end Dwight Freeney, safety Bob Sanders and place-kicker Adam Vinatieri.

Colts Make Clark the Highest Paid TE in NFL History

By Matt Loede

February 20, 2008

The Colts and tight end Dallas Clark have come to terms on a six-year deal according to team President Bill Polian. The move to lock up Clark comes just one day after the team taggd him as their franchise player. “Mr. Polian and I had engaged in ongoing conversations since the fall with the intent desire to keep Dallas with the Colts till the end of his career,” said Neil Cornrich, Clark’s agent. “It’s been close for quite a while and we just refined it.”

The deal will make Clark the highest paid tight end in NFL history. As the franchise player, he would have made $4.55 mil this season, but the new deal will pay him quite a bit more. He was the teams first round pick back in 2003, and this past season caught a career-high 58 passes for 618 yards and 11 TD’s. The numbers were franchise records for tight ends. “He’s a very unique player,” Polian said. “He gives us a lot of flexibility we otherwise would not have.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

Seahawks sign Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle

February 15, 2008

By Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks signed former Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle to a five-year contract Thursday.

Agent Neil Cornrich declined to specify the value of the deal, but it is believed to be comparable to what other starting guards in the league earn. That would mean approximately $3 million in base salary, plus many more millions in a signing bonus.

Wahle, a 10-year veteran who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and '06 while with Carolina, earned $18 million in base salary and bonuses in his last three seasons with the Panthers before they cut him Monday in a salary-cap move.

The 6-foot-6, 304-pound Wahle will become the fourth left guard the Seahawks have tried since All-Pro Steve Hutchinson left after the 2005 season in a tricky free-agent deal with Minnesota. Hutchinson's contract included unprecedented "poison pill" contract provisions that the Seahawks vehemently protested but ultimately could not match.

The Seahawks then tried Floyd Womack and Chris Spencer, now their starting center, at left guard. After that failed, the Seahawks thought they had agreed on a contract with free agent guard Kris Dielman last offseason, but his teammates persuaded him to re-sign with the San Diego Chargers instead. So Seattle rotated inconsistent Rob Sims and the injury-prone Womack at left guard during games throughout the last half of 2007.

The Seahawks' problems in running the ball are getting coach Mike Holmgren's full attention this offseason. Wahle's signing is the first proof.

The New England Patriots and "just about every team in the league who had openings on the offensive line" were interested in Wahle, Cornrich said. But the Seahawks had inherent advantages.

Wahle's father played at suburban Bellevue, Wash., High School and at Oregon State. Wahle's parents have a second home in Bainbridge Island, Wash., across the bay from downtown Seattle. And the family has many relatives in the Northwest.

"The Seahawks definitely had a home-field advantage with Mike," Cornrich said in a telephone interview from Cleveland.

Wahle's rookie season was Holmgren's final season as Packers' coach before he arrived in Seattle. Holmgren will coach his final season with the Seahawks in 2008.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Orange & Brown Report Compliments Cornrich

by John Taylor

February 14, 2008

Cornrich represents Phil Dawson, Ethan Kelly and Dave Zastudil among the current Browns. He's also the agent for Savage, Chudzinski, Mel Tucker, and Grantham.

He also has Nate Salley, Dallas Clark, Ted Ginn Jr. and Mike Vrabel among many others.

And there is not a more honest, forthright player-agent in the NFL biz than Neil Cornrich.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hard work pays off for Stephen Neal

By Ryan Finley

February 1, 2008

Patriots guard Stephen Neal probably never thought he would play in the Super Bowl.

That is because Neal never played college football.

Neal was a standout wrestler at Cal State-Bakersfield who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2001; three years later, he made New England's starting lineup. Neal, a 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound guard, has started 51 games since 2004.

"It's not really a path I could choose," Neal said. "Luckily for me, I got an opportunity, and the Patriots' organization let me go down this path for quite a while without seeing any upsides. I was very fortunate to be kept around."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Neal "deserves everything he's gotten."

"Nobody worked harder or is tougher or gives more of himself than Steve Neal."

Versatile, reliable Vrabel is Hall of Fame material

February 3, 2008


Pending further developments, there are 16 linebackers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are six Ohio State Buckeyes (Sid Gillman, Lou Groza, Dante Lavelli, Jim Parker, Paul Warfield and Bill Willis) in Canton -- seven if you count coach Paul Brown. Obviously, these are very exclusive clubs, and it's likely that Mike Vrabel will add to their ranks at some point in the next 20 years.

Vrabel sneaks up on you, doesn't he?

Scouts Inc. recently took every player who will suit up for Super Bowl XLII and ranked all of the Patriots and Giants, from 1 to 106.

Vrabel was No. 10 on the list. That underrates him, but, then, what else is new?

Vrabel was a tight end when he reported to Ohio State from Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls. The Buckeyes apparently had enough big receivers, so Vrabel was moved to defensive end. No problem.

Vrabel's set school records with 36 sacks and 66 tackles for losses. He was a first-team All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. His record for sacks in a season (13) stood for 10 years, or until Vernon Gholston broke it in the recent national championship game against LSU.

This was good enough to get him picked at the bottom of the third round of the NFL draft. Apparently, there were 90 players better than Vrabel -- including four of his OSU teammates, Orlando Pace, Shawn Springs, Rob Kelly and Ty Howard -- when he came out in 1997.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made him into a backup linebacker and stuck him on special teams.

Hey, these things happen. They happen to Vrabel all the time. He spent four seasons in Pittsburgh and considered retirement when his contract reached term. Think about that for a second.

Vrabel signed a free-agent deal with the New England Patriots in 2001. The Patriots used him at outside linebacker in their 3-4. No problem. They used him at inside linebacker. No problem. They moved him back outside this season. No problem.

Vrabel had a career-high 12½ sacks this season, the most by a Patriot since Andre Tippett's 12½ in 1987. Vrabel made the Pro Bowl for the first time, at age 32.
How many games did the Patriots win? All of them.

The perception is that Vrabel isn't even the best of the aged corps of Patriots linebackers at this point. Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau get more attention. No problem.

Vrabel's numbers are adding up. He has 542 tackles, 371 solo, and 44 sacks in seven seasons with the Patriots. These figures speak to consistent production of the highest level.

Vrabel has been known to check in at tight end when the Patriots line up at the goal line. He blocks. He catches. No problem. He has eight career receptions, all for touchdowns.

Vrabel caught a touchdown pass to help the Patriots win one of their titles, a 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. He also had two sacks in that game. He nearly won the MVP award, which went to quarterback Tom Brady.

Vrabel is one of 17 players to have caught two touchdown passes in Super Bowls. And he's a linebacker. At least, it is believed he is a linebacker.

Vrabel is the first and only player to have two touchdown receptions and a sack in the same game, which he did in December 2005.

During his tenure in New England, the Patriots have an 86-26 regular-season record and they've won three Super Bowls. They'll probably add a fourth title today.

A time will come when their dynasty will decline and, farther down the road, the football historians will make their assessments. Brady will lead a list of New England luminaries who will be enshrined in Canton.

Vrabel, who has been sneaking up on us for 15 years, won't sneak into the Hall. He'll be ushered into the place.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mike Vrabel: The Most Efficient Pass Catcher in NFL History

Mike Vrabel at center of Pats' greatness

January 29, 2008


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Vrabel looked around the tent outside the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and found himself in good company.

Diagonally across the makeshift room was fellow linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who has played in every Patriots Super Bowl since his rookie season of 1996.

Immediately to Vrabel's left was Kevin Faulk, whose subtle contributions were invaluable in three Super Bowl wins. With a 90-degree tilt of his head, Vrabel could make eye contact with Richard Seymour, a Pro Bowl fixture at defensive end.

But perhaps none has been more integral to the Patriots' Super Bowl success -- they will try to win their fourth championship in seven seasons Sunday -- than Vrabel.

Not bad for a guy who at one point contemplated retiring after four seasons, thinking his career would be little more than a footnote in the Pittsburgh Steelers' media guide.

"To really look back ... sometimes I still have to pinch myself," Vrabel said this week.

A standout defensive end at Ohio State, Vrabel was taken by the Steelers in the third round of the 1997 draft but never found a home there. From his rookie season through 2000, he never started and had just seven sacks in 51 games.

Despite a mundane career to that point, the Patriots still sought out Vrabel and signed him to a free-agent deal in March 2001.

"Every year, we've brought guys in who have helped the team, added to our team," Vrabel said.

That year, it was Vrabel, and New England has reaped the benefits. Very early on, the Patriots made Vrabel a starter, and he has responded with 44 sacks in seven seasons -- including 12 1/2 this year.

He has plugged holes as an inside and outside linebacker, but much of his success this season has been because he's been able to focus solely on playing the outside -- and rushing the quarterback on a nearly every-down basis.

Perhaps most impressive, his imprint has been on each Super Bowl:

• Early against the Rams, Vrabel rushed from the outside into the face of Kurt Warner, halting Warner's follow-through and forcing a fluttering pass that Ty Law intercepted and ran back for a touchdown.

• His best game came against the Panthers, when he had two sacks, a forced fumble and a juggling touchdown catch.

• And against the Eagles, Vrabel added another sack and a touchdown catch.

Vrabel's defensive career was reborn when he arrived in New England, and he's even made his mark on offense, becoming the most efficient pass catcher in NFL history. His 10 career receptions have all gone for 1- or 2-yard touchdowns -- and it's a safe bet he will have another opportunity near the goal line Sunday against the Giants.

"For all the great things Bill (Belichick, the head coach) does ... he has faith in his assistants," Vrabel said. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the offensive staff "give me the nuts and bolts when I go over there. They tell me, 'Just don't mess it up.'"

Given what he's done with his second chance with the Patriots, that's the last thing Vrabel would do.

"We've won three Super Bowls," he said. "I would say this has exceeded any expectations I had."

Back On Outside, Vrabel Excels

All-Pro, Pro Bowl Selection For First Time


January 29, 2008

Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel has said he doesn't always agree with his coach despite Bill Belichick's success.

But Vrabel has coaching aspirations, so it would make sense to apply what he's learned from one of the best.

One thing Belichick did that worked was to move Vrabel back to outside linebacker. He was moved inside last season following a season-ending injury to Junior Seau Nov. 26 against the Bears. The signing of free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas and the return of Seau, allowed for that to happen.

Vrabel responded by having his best season. He was voted to the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro for the first time in his 11-year career. And he's in the Super Bowl for the fourth time.

"I don't know how many guys come into the NFL thinking they are going to play 11 years, first of all," Vrabel said. "To win three Super Bowls, go to a Pro Bowl, I would say that it has probably exceeded any expectation at the time I was a third-round draft pick of the Steelers in 1997."

The Steelers released Vrabel after the 2000 season and the Patriots signed him. He is one of the best acquisitions in the Belichick era.

Vrabel goes about his business the way a construction worker does. He's all hard hat, but uses his brains as much as his brawn, a trait that has allowed him to thrive in Belichick's 3-4 defense.

"He's one of the brains behind the operation," safety Rodney Harrison said. "A smart, intelligent guy that just makes huge plays, makes big plays, sacks, forced fumbles. Just a tremendous leader on our team and he's really the quarterback of our defense."

Vrabel led the Patriots with 12 1/2 sacks, the third highest total in a season by a Patriots player and the most in 20 years. He led the team with 16 quarterback hits, showing he hasn't lost a step even at 32. He tied his career high with four forced fumbles.

"He's done a terrific job of performing at the outside linebacker position," Seau said. "You've got to remember, Vrabel's been one of the most versatile, unselfish players on this team. Whenever you're taking a player that's an outside linebacker and putting him in the middle because you need it for the team and he goes out there and performs, that's a credit to him and then he gets a chance to play outside linebacker all year and look what he does."

Vrabel also moved inside in 2005. He played outside the first five games before moving inside for the final 11.

Vrabel's versatility is not limited to the defensive side of the ball. He continues to be a goal line threat lining up as an extra tight end, catching two touchdown passes this season to give him 10 for his career.

Numbers-wise, Vrabel hasn't had a strong postseason. In two games, he has four tackles and hasn't had a sack.

But he has been known to make big plays in the Super Bowl. In his first, against the Rams six years ago, Vrabel pressured quarterback Kurt Warner into throwing an errant pass that Ty Law intercepted and returned 47 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Vrabel had a huge game in a 32-29 victory over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII. He had six tackles, including two sacks, and forced a fumble. He also caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that gave the Patriots a 29-22 lead.

The following year, Vrabel caught another touchdown pass in a 24-21 victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

"It's tough to get to this point," Vrabel said. "If you look at all the great teams from our conference and from the NFC, it's tough. We don't ever look back and compare and say, 'This was the easy way' or 'This is the way we did it then.' We're always caught in now and what this football team is."

Vrabel has been caught in the now for seven seasons.

"Obviously I have a lot of respect for Bill and what he's done with this football team and the decisions that he makes. I certainly don't always agree with everything that he says or does, but I think ultimately the end result is very positive," Vrabel said. "He gave me an opportunity to come here. He said I won't ever promise anybody a spot, but there'll be an opening for you to compete and be an every-down player. ... He's not really caught up in the guys that are supposed to be good players or allegedly good players. He wants guys that are going to go out there and work, be smart and are dependable and consistent. Those are the kind of guys we have on this football team."

Packers' Kampman Has Reggie-Like 2007

By Bruce Ciskie

January 25, 2008

In 1993, newly-acquired defensive end Reggie White set a Green Bay Packers standard by registering 29 quarterback knockdowns.

Since White's superb first season in Green Bay, no Packer defensive end had even approached that number.

Until 2007.

Aaron Kampman did more than just post Pro Bowl numbers for the Packers in 2007. For the first time, the Packers had a defensive end put up a full season that could remind folks of what Reggie White did in Green Bay.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Kampman is as good -- or better -- than White was. There will be only one Reggie White. But Kampman, annually one of the NFL's more underappreciated players, continues to impress in his own way.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted some interesting numbers on the Packers' season (it may have ended prematurely for Packer fans, but it was a fun season, yes?). Part of that was a breakdown of Kampman's superb year at defensive end.

Kampman registered 31 knockdowns in 2007, doubling his previous career high. His 12 sacks led the team, while his 15.5 hurries registered third behind Cullen Jenkins and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

The category of "pressures" is defined as the sum of all three -- sacks, hurries, and knockdowns. Kampman led the team with 58.5. The Journal Sentinel started keeping track of the stat in 1998, and it's the highest total they've seen by a Packer.

Oh, and Kampman also managed to play 84 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps in 2007. When you digest that number, keep in mind that he played precisely zero snaps in the regular-season finale against Detroit. He was deactivated that day, though the Packers surely had to hide his helmet and jersey to keep him off the field.

As Packer fans begin to rebound from Sunday's loss in the NFC Championship Game, they will reflect on the magical 2007 season. It was a season that saw the team far exceed anyone's realistic expectations. No one could have seen a 14-4 season coming when the offense was sputtering through a rather sickly-looking four-game preseason. Then fans watched their team ride a fluky special-teams touchdown and a shaky performance by Donovan McNabb to a Week One win over Philadelphia.

Even once the offense got things going, it was clear that Kampman was not only the Packers' best defensive player, but he was probably the most anonymous star the franchise has seen in years. While Kampman is wreaking havoc at left defensive end, most media are busy watching Nick Barnett roam the middle, or maybe the press coverage of Al Harris and Charles Woodson.

And to think the Packers could have lost him after the 2004 season, when the Minnesota Vikings signed him to an offer sheet. Good thing Green Bay matched, I'd say.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tom Santi named to All-ACC Academic Football Team

February 4, 2008

Tight end Tom Santi and wide receiver Staton Jobe are among 40 players named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Football Team announced today by ACC commissioner John Swofford. To be eligible, a player must have earned a 3.00 grade point average for the fall semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career.

This is the third consecutive season Santi has been named to the conference’s academic squad. He earned second-team all-ACC honors after catching 36 passes for a team-leading 418 yards and three touchdowns. He received his degree in sociology in January 2008, a semester early. Santi was also this season’s recipient of the Jim Tatum Award as the ACC’s top student-athlete among the conference’s senior football players.

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