Packers bypassed for NFL kickoff game
The National Football League took care of that Tuesday when it announced the Dallas Cowboys, and not the Packers, had been chosen to play the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the kickoff game Sept. 5.
There had been much speculation that the Packers, who are to play the Giants on the road next season, would be making the trek to MetLife Stadium for a Wednesday night opener.
It would have been a matchup between the last two Super Bowl champions and a rematch of the Jan. 15 divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field that the Giants won, 37-20. And it would have featured the NFL's largest television market combining with one of the most popular teams nationally.
Instead, the NFL went for the slam dunk, choosing the Cowboys, who not only are the Giants' rival and generally referred to as "America's Team," but come from the fifth-largest television market in the NFL.
At the end of last season, Cowboys at Giants drew a 27.6 rating on NBC, which was the network's best regular-season number since taking over the season opener and weekly Sunday night games. To say the NFL took that into consideration would be a major understatement.
It should be noted that the Packers-Saints kickoff opener last year ranks third on NBC's all-time list with a 27.2 rating, but clearly NBC loves Cowboys-Giants. Last year, they televised both meetings between the NFC East foes.
The kickoff opener is usually played on Thursday, but it was moved to Wednesday this year so it didn't conflict with President Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6.
Reportedly, the four teams who were considered for the opener against the Giants were: Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
The opener was the only game the NFL announced. The rest of the schedule won't be released for a couple more weeks.
Though coach Mike McCarthy was not available for comment, it's likely he wasn't upset about not getting the opener. McCarthy prefers a fairly regular schedule and playing on Wednesday night would have caused him to adjust his training camp and Week 2 schedule.
The defending Super Bowl champion has hosted the first regular-season game of the year for eight seasons, including the Packers' 42-34 victory over the Saints last year. The home team has won all eight times.
The Packers could still land a Sunday night or one of the two Monday night games opening weekend, but with Bill Parcells possibly coaching New Orleans, Peyton Manning debuting with Denver and Tim Tebow in play with the New York Jets, there are plenty of choices for primetime.
The Packers will host Giants free-agent end Dave Tollefson on an official visit Thursday and Friday, an NFL source said.
The Packers, who drafted Tollefson in the seventh round in 2006, are one of a half dozen teams interested in him. He already has visited Seattle and is expected to visit one other team this week.
In addition to the Packers and Seahawks, the Oakland Raiders are interested in Tollefson. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie were both with the Packers when Tollefson was drafted.
The Packers are also expecting a visit from Buffalo free-agent tackle Demetrius Bell soon.
A draft in the room: One of the interesting parts of the Packers' draft this year is that nine of the 12 picks are scheduled for the final day of the three-day draft.
The first round will be held Thursday, April 26, followed by the second and third rounds Friday, April 27, and the fourth through seventh rounds Saturday, April 28.
The Packers have one pick in each of the first three rounds: Nos. 28, 59 and 90. In the fourth, they have three: Nos. 123, 132 and 133. In the fifth and sixth, one each: Nos. 163 and 197. And in the seventh, four: Nos. 224, 235, 241 and 243.
The three-day format has presented some challenges to general manager Ted Thompson, who for years took part in drafts that began early in the morning. Drafting 28th this year, his pick might not come until the middle of David Letterman's monologue.
"I'm not really a night person," Thompson said. "The first day we're picking at 11 o'clock or something. That's not when I'm at my best. I actually liked the setup when I was working in Seattle because the draft started at 8 o'clock in the morning and by 1:30 you're done."
Having four picks in the final round may save the personnel staff some work after the draft when they're feverishly calling undrafted players in order to sign them as free agents. With three extra picks in the round, they can assure themselves of getting at least a couple of the players they normally would sign as free agents.
Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, the former Packers offensive coordinator, said he made a strong push for quarterback Matt Flynn from the start of free agency.
When asked about Flynn's decision to choose Seattle, he said he thought Flynn had an excellent visit to the Dolphins facility. When pressed further, Philbin said:
"Again, you need to ask Matt Flynn why he's in Seattle. There's a myriad factors that go into why people make decisions about their own future, which is their prerogative. It always takes two people to get a marriage and so I wish him well. He's a great young man. But he's better to ask why he's in Seattle."
Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report from Green Bay.