The Green Bay Packers unconventional injury woes in 2010 have been as funny as a “Roadrunner” cartoon this season, without the odd “meep-meep” to illustrate when pain is about to go-down.
Unlike “The Looney Tunes” however, the Packers aren’t relying on a 1000 pound Acme weight to crush the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas.
If you were to ask Packer fans who their most missed player is right now, you would be met with a wagon full of answers three days prior to the Super Bowl. Choosing a suitable response proves to be strenuous, but realistically there is only one man mimicking Spock’s absence in the third “Star Trek” film, and that is tight end Jermichael Finley.
Head coach Mike McCarthy went without a vote for the NFL’s Head Coach of the Year Award yesterday. I guess Troy Aikman’s 17 week promotion plan failed, but after watching the Packers offense against Lovie Smith’s beautifully boring Bears two weeks ago, it’s no wonder Big M failed to take home the honors.
But don’t pull the trigger just yet on McCarthy.
In typical Packer fashion, Green Bay’s head coach had a trick or two up his husky triple extra-large shirt. Replacing Finley with veteran Donald Lee was as predictable as professional wrestling when the year first started, but when the Packers rolled out rookie Andrew Quarless, folks in Wisconsin were left high and dry with such a promising season on the line.
Who was to thank for this seemingly troublesome move that warranted some serious chatter outside the gates of Lambeau Field?
Nope, it wasn’t McCarthy… guess again. Chairman Mark Murphy? Not even close.
I’ll let you in. It was Mr. Football himself, Joe Paterno -- the man that trained Quarless into a stellar tight end during his three year career as a Nittany Lion, and also happens to acquire one of the rarest voices in America, which resembles a cross between Mike Tyson and a dog whistle.
Okay, so blaming Joe Pa may be a little hasty. But we all know the Ted Thompson excuse has been used to wits end time and time again when discussing the Packers drafting options.
In the three years Quarless was amongst Zombie Nation, he broke records faster than Al Davis fired Tom Cable. Holding the title for most receptions by a tight end in a career (87), Quarless’ name runs throughout Penn State’s history books, finding itself alongside one and only Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris.
Serve up some caviar, because Quarless is unbelievably swanky.
Undeniably so, Quarless has also achieved some fame in Titletown this year. A tally of 238 yards and a score to his name, Quarless has added even more depth to the Packers receiving game (although it was never needed), along with maintaining a serious blocking role when aiding Aaron Rodgers in the pocket.
That job was supposed to be left to the offensive line. Bryan Bulaga would most likely agree.
For a man that has “God’s Gift” tattooed on his triceps, Quarless certainly puts his money where his mouth is. On media day fans queried the rookie on his tattoos, asking for a brief description of each.
Still, there is one piece of art occupying Quarless’ left arm that intrigues me a little. It isn’t a cheesehead, nor is it a monument of Joe Pa. Instead it is simply two hands corralling a football, which takes up much of Quarless’ forearm.
Why is this so interesting?
Perhaps in four days’ time, one of those hands will feature silverware big enough to silence Beyonce herself – as the Packers will finally have put “a ring on it” for the first time since Brett Favre’s 1997 victory.
Unlike linebacker Clay Matthews, Quarless has experienced success from early on. All 254 pounds have been put into full effect this year, and for a rookie jousting for the starting spot in 2011, expect the perennial eyebrow of the league to rise a little after Sunday.
Short hair, six foot-four, Quarless isn’t the most demeaning tight end in the league. Dallas Clark or Jeremy Shockey resemble Civil War veterans between the hash marks, bearing untamed mustaches and facial hair fit for a New York city hobo.
Quarless wants no piece of this scene, even though he may be sporting somewhat of a playoff beard that bears no resemblance to Sidney Crosby or any other NHL bruiser.
Instead the rookie tight end is comfortable portraying his style. Matthews may choke on his own golden locks when chewing on his mouthguard from time to time, but Quarless on the other hand is purely focused.
How does a chaotic event like media day sit with a player who is determined to win a ring so early in his career?
Quite well. Especially when a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers awaits.
“I think towards the middle of the week we should be done with a lot of this stuff, you know get this out of the way, and then it’s going to be strictly Steelers” said Quarless on a local AM radio station.
Something about the words “No struggle, no progress” on Quarless’ arms makes me believe him.
Whether its ink, Penn State or Green Bay, the Packers have a seriously talented player to utilize this Sunday. The Steelers defense is still everlastingly playoff strong, and after a shootout against the Arizona Cardinals two years ago, expect close confines inside Jerry Jones’ billion dollar hobby.
That isn’t to say the Packers won’t need Quarless to win.
Up the middle plays have been Green Bay’s bread and butter this year, but recently teams have become more aware of the Packers multiple receiving threats on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, Quarless falls into that category.
McCarthy’s players were asked who their favourite Packer player was recently. Fellow receiver Donald Driver answered Bart Starr, while star cornerback Tramon Williams chose Reggie White.
Quarless was never interviewed. Like it or not, the reason behind this is due to Quarless’ unknown status in big games.
Maybe it’s the frigid conditions in Dallas, or the excitement that comes with the Super Bowl, but something about this game has Quarless’ name written all over it – in black permanent marker. Cornerback Sam Shields made a name for himself against Chicago two weeks ago recording two interceptions, now it is No.81’s turn to do the same.
Starr once said “If you don’t make any mistakes, people will love you forever”. Quarless has the Packer fan base in the palm of his hand. Now he must do right by the green and gold.