Packers’ goal: Have fun, stay focused
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Mike Holmgren’s pep talk to the Green Bay Packers as they flew south for Super Bowl week was simple: Have fun, stay focused and then put the finishes touches on one heck of a season.
The Packers coach, who won two titles as an assistant in San Francisco before taking over in Green Bay five years ago, stressed that the club’s first journey to the Super Bowl since 1968 wasn’t all about business.
``We talked a lot about it. I have some experience. We only have a couple of players, Don Beebe and Jim McMahon, who have been in Super Bowls,″ Holmgren said. ``We have a pretty mature team, I think, and good leadership on the team, and they want to finish what they started.
``And so I’m not gong to be a policeman down here. I want them to enjoy the experience. I want their families to enjoy the experience. And then I want them to do it all. We still have a game to play.″
Defensive end Sean Jones said taking the time to take it all in was essential.
``That’s part of the drill,″ he said. ``Hey, it’s fun being here. Don’t be just totally stonefaced and go around acting like there’s no enjoyment. Sure, enjoy it, but keep your focus.″
Holmgren said he wasn’t going to deny his team its due.
``While we won’t lose sight of what our ultimate goal is, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the moment,″ he said. ``You’ve got to enjoy the journey, all the way. It’s been a long trip, and we should. We’ve accomplished quite a bit already.″
Holmgren also gave his players a not-so subtle reminder of the spoils of victory. On the charter to New Orleans, he wore his diamond-encrusted championship ring from the 1990 Super Bowl, when he was San Francisco’s offensive coordinator and the 49ers whipped Denver 55-10, also in New Orleans.
``I put it on this morning and I haven’t worn it all season. I thought this would be a good time to wear it, because we got this one in New Orleans,″ said Holmgren, who also has a ring from the ’89 Super Bowl.
Free safety Eugene Robinson, one of several veterans on the team who are enjoying their first taste of the Super Bowl, said he’s going to enjoy his stay by taking in many of the fine foods that New Orleans has to offer.
``I’m eating everything,″ he said. ``You got any dreams? I’m eating them, too.
``I’m eating everything down here. I don’t eat oysters, but I’m going to eat them just to say I ate oysters. Frog legs, I’m eating them. They got any rattlesnake? I’m eating that, too. I’m not going to worry about my diet. I’ll just take some Pepto-Bismol,″ Robinson said.
Tight end Mark Chmura said he doubted his teammates would hang out into the wee hours on Bourbon Street flirting with mischief.
``I don’t think so. I mean, we’re going to have fun, just like any other team would, but we know where to draw the line,″ he said. ``We know the reason we’re down here is to play a football game, not to treat it like a vacation and turn it into one big party.″
That would come only after a victory, split end Antonio Freeman said.
``I think our approach has to be just as it has been all year: We’ll focus at practice, and when practices and meetings are over, then it’s time to have fun,″ Freeman said.
Holmgren said middle linebacker Ron Cox, who took over two weeks ago after starter George Koonce’s season-ending knee injury, missed a workout last week because he had the flu. But he said everybody else is fine and his team is as healthy as it’s been all year.
Holmgren had said last week that he planned a heart-to-heart with two-time MVP Brett Favre, who’ll be playing in the biggest game of his life on Sunday just an hour’s drive from his hometown of Kiln, Miss.
Holmgren said he wasn’t so much concerned with Favre staying out of trouble as he was with keeping him calm, however.
``He has a reputation of coming out a little excited, and some of the balls fly on him occasionally,″ Holmgren said. ``So, what we talked about was trying to create a mind-set so we can relax a little bit and enter the game a certain way.
``We’ll continue to talk about it, and I’ve talked with him about that all season. But this is the biggest game he’s played in, and the biggest game I’ve coached in.
``So we all want to do it right.″