We're Black and Blue All Over:
It's understandable if, in yesterday's flurry of news, you missed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' always-interesting weekly radio show on 540 ESPN in Milwaukee. As always, you can listen to the podcast, where among other things you can hear a discussion about the very issue we hit on Monday.
Namely: Would the events of Week 17 in any way impact MVP voting? As you know, Rodgers sat out the Packers' 45-41 victory over the Detroit Lions, during which backup Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns. Meanwhile, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees played almost all of a 45-17 blowout of the Carolina Panthers, adding another 389 yards and five touchdowns to his totals.
Asked about the MVP impact, Rodgers said: "I don't really see how that comes into play when you're talking about a most valuable player vote. I think the way that we've gone about it and the games that we've won, I don't think you can say in any way that we've tried to get late points or late yards or late touchdowns. Look at the film. I'm not sure if that's the case for every team in the league."
In addition to playing most of Week 17, Brees also remained in the Saints' Week 16 blowout of the Atlanta Falcons as he pursued the NFL's single-season record for passing yards. All told, Brees threw 155 more passes than Rodgers this season.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers a thoughtful and reasoned argument for why he chose Rodgers over Brees on his MVP ballot.
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette delves into the 2012 possibilities for Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
Rodgers on the possibility of Flynn returning to the Packers next season, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "Not going to happen, I don't think."
The Chicago Bears are inviting trouble by forcing coach Lovie Smith on the new general manager they hire, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Smith emerged as the "most powerful man in the building" after the Bears fired general manager Jerry Angelo, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com wonders if longtime NFL executive Bill Polian, fired this week by the Indianapolis Colts, could be a fit with the Bears.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com on the Minnesota Vikings' decision to promote Rick Spielman to general manager: "The authority the Vikings handed Spielman on Monday -- control over all football matters and final say on the 53-man roster -- doesn't ensure success. The overhaul ahead is too arduous and Spielman's track record too limited to draw strong conclusions. What's certain is Spielman will get to execute his vision now, for better or worse, without interruption or exception, and assume all the pressure that goes with being the most powerful football man in the building."
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune: "Other than the fact we now know exactly who to blame or praise for all personnel decisions, essentially nothing has changed because, right or wrong, the decision-makers are the same and no changes are planned for the scouting departments."
Brutal take on the proceedings from Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Coming off a disastrous season and facing an increasingly disillusioned fan base, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf needed to make a bold statement. And on Tuesday, they did: 'We are idiots.'"
The Wilfs met with a select group of reporters to discuss this move. Here's a transcript from 1500ESPN.com.
The Detroit Lions aren't bothering to play the "disrespect card" this week, notes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on the possibility of a high-scoring game Saturday night at the Superdome, via John Niyo of the Detroit News. "Yeah, I don't plan on anybody shooting our defense out."
Suh is clearly excited about playing in this game, writes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.