Sports interviews are rarely interesting anymore. The only reasons for athletes or coaches to give us their two cents are either self-promotion or contractual obligation. In any event, the end result is usually just another regurgitation of endless clichés. Bill Belichick is the personification of the inconsequential sound bite, but he is by no means the only one. It seems that everyone is taking things one game at a time and respecting all opponents, regardless of how hopelessly inept they might be.

In this age of oversaturated media coverage, all of this is perfectly understandable. One misspoken word can be taken out of context and made into national news within minutes.

It is against this backdrop that we should consider the words of Jordy Nelson. The Packers wide-receiver was interviewed two weeks ago on ‘The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz’, a Miami-based radio programme. Dan LeBatard, the host, pressed Nelson on whether the Packers would prefer to play in domes during the playoffs, as opposed to the freezing outdoor environment of Lambeau Field.

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have been asked similar questions in the past, and both stated that they would take the home field advantage every time. Jordy Nelson, however, responded:

“I would say that for the majority of the time we’d take the dome. The one exception possibly would be at New Orleans, because they’re a whole different team at home…”

Nelson semi-jokingly went on to say of Lambeau Field, “we’ve suggested to some people here in the organization that they need to sell some more stocks and get a dome on the place.” LeBatard asked Nelson if he thought many people would object to the idea of a dome on Lambeau Field and Nelson replied, “not in the team, that’s for sure.”

There appears to be little tradition and heritage left in sports. The heritage that does remain is treasured by hardcore fans with frenetic zeal. The icy, unforgiving atmosphere of Lambeau Field exudes nostalgia and many identify the Packers franchise with it more than they do with any individual person, including Lombardi and Favre.

Green Bay fans are some of the most passionate in the World too, and subsequently Nelson is risking unpopularity with his quotes. However, the contents of his refreshing honesty should not surprise anyone. Green Bay’s foundation is based on a blistering offense and a quarterback that is playing the position better than arguably anyone else in the history of the sport.

Aaron Rodgers’ stats indoors are simply incredible. He has played 17 games in domes, throwing for 36 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions. His quarterback rating is comfortably in excess of 110 and it leaves Brady, Brees and Manning trailing distantly in his wake.  The Packers record during this time is only 10-7, but they have won their last 5 games in domes with Rodgers throwing for 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in the process. Their last defeat in a dome was in Week 14 of 2010, when Rodgers was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the second quarter in Detroit.

This suggests that the Packers would be better off playing on the road in Detroit, Atlanta and Dallas (with the roof on).  Nelson still wishes to avoid the dome in New Orleans, and this is likely because of the similarity in offenses. New Orleans would be just as uncomfortable at Lambeau Field, and at least at Lambeau it is the Packers that would enjoy familiarity and home comforts. The Packers might even prefer to play the 49ers on the road too, in a warmer climate that accommodates their quarterback and vertical game. The 49ers strong defense and powerful running game, conversely, is better suited to the frozen field in Green Bay.

The Packers loss to the Chiefs last week should not be exaggerated. It was a blip that could happen to any team and is expected in the course of a normal season. However, it did emphasise some of Green Bay’s deficiencies. Their offensive line has been decimated by injuries, and they do not have a substantial running game to rely on; defenses know that the Packers will be throwing, and they know that they can get to the quarterback. Add to this that Greg Jennings, their big deep threat, is out injured, and suddenly the offense does not look quite so daunting. Jennings will be back for the playoffs but who knows how fit or in form he will be.

The bottom line is that Rodgers has little time to release the ball. He has a history of concussions and the last thing that Green Bay needs is a further injury of that type to their star. Furthermore, Rodgers needs to throw the ball into tight windows in order to keep his team moving forward seamlessly. Green Bay’s whole gamelan is predicated on this; if it is hindered, then they will undoubtedly struggle. The controlled conditions of a dome regulate temperature and eliminate wind. Whether anyone else in Green Bay admits it or not, this gives Rodgers and his offense a far more comforting feeling than the cheers of the home fans would. It makes everything that much easier.

As for Lambeau Field, that is quite another matter. It would cost millions of dollars to fit the stadium with a roof, but with this teams window being open for another 8-10 years it could be seen as a shrewd investment; it maximises their chances of forming a dynasty and adding to their Superbowl titles. Perhaps the Packers should consider sacrificing part of their history now, in order to create new history going forward. According to Jordy Nelson, the players themselves would be in favour of this course of action. A controversial thought, but at least it is an interesting one.


Oggy’s Quick Slants

–       The New England Patriots confirmed that defensive end Andre Carter is out for the rest of the season, having placed him on injured reserve with what they describe as a “leg injury”. It is a huge loss for the Patriots, who now lack any semblance of a pass rush heading into the playoffs.


–       Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley has announced that he will be staying with the Trojans for his senior season. Barkley was projected to be a top 10 draft pick if he opted for the NFL now, but he asserts that he is fully dedicated to the USC cause for one more year.