Poker has been an effective fundraising vehicle for numerous charity foundations and advocacies throughout the years.
In these charity poker events, it’s not uncommon to see tables packed with athletes from basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing, mixed martial arts and football (among other sports) playing for a good cause and having a good time. One of the landmark charity poker tournaments in recent years is the Raise Your Hand for Africa Texas Hold’em Tournament.
On February 19, 2011 at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, more than 350 participants helped raise awareness for two outstanding organizations: the Starkey Hearing Foundation, dedicated to providing hearing devices to those in Africa, in addition to promoting a deeper understanding of hearing health awareness and how to prevent hearing loss; and PROS FOR AFRICA, a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization that encourages professionals of all fields to share what they know, do and create with the citizens of Africa.
Presented by World Poker Entertainment, the event was hosted by 13-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) Champion Phil Hellmuth, Jr., along with eager co-hosts Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Adrian Peterson. Some of the most famous names in the gridiron and poker worlds, as well as stalwarts from Hollywood and the music industry walked the red carpet before the event. Fittingly, 2011 Super Bowl MVP and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the NFL contingent of around 30 players, which also included fellow quarterback Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams. Other NFL players who attended the event were Visanthe Shiancoe, Vernon Davis, Vontae Davis, Gerald McCoy, Curtis Lofton, and Mark Clayton.
In fact, a number of poker pros spiced up the competition, including Michelle Lau, Suzie Lederer, “The Flying Dutchman” Marcel Luske, and of course Betfair Poker Asian Tour veteran Liz Lieu. A few notable actors were also on hand to enjoy the festivities and riffle a few chips, including Lou Ferrigno, Steve Martin, Don Cheadle, Verne Troyer and Kevin Sorbo.
In the end, amateur poker player Debbie Gostowski – a dedicated supporter of the Starkey Heating Foundation herself – of Effingham, Illinois took the event’s top prize, a 2011 CSM #2 Shelby Mustang. A few lucky contestants also won all-expense paid trips to Africa, South America and Mexico as part of the charitable foundation’s missions.
It’s not too surprising to know that the Raise Your Hand for Africa poker tournament has turned into a yearly affair. The national prominence of Aaron Rodgers and his NFL brethren, along with a diverse array of poker-loving celebrities from different realms of entertainment, certainly provide the star power and publicity that the good cause deserves.
With their final five picks of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers opted for a fairly simple approach.
Reinforce the front seven and add depth at wide receiver. No, literally, that was it.
A defensive tackle, two linebackers and two wideouts comprised the rest of Green Bay’s draft Saturday.
We’ll discuss these picks in the order they occurred.
With their second fifth round pick (167th overall, 34th of the round), the Packers tabbed Mississippi State defensive tackle Josh Boyd. At 6-feet, 3-inches, 312 pounds, Boyd likely projects as a 3-4 end in Green Bay. He had a big 2011 season (eight tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) before falling off quite a bit in 2012 (just 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks). Still, he’s a hard-nosed defender with good burst off the line who should be an asset against the run. That’s important as ends Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson are free agents after this season.
The Packers targeted outside linebacker with their next pick, the 25th pick of round six (193rd overall), by selecting Illinois State’s Nate Palmer. Palmer, 6-feet, 3-inches and 240 pounds, recorded 17 sacks over his final two seasons in college. He was drafted as a linebacker but played defensive end in college. Hard to find a ton of information of Palmer, but it sounds like he’ll be in the mix for a backup spot at OLB. That’s a good thing because, as of now, Dezman Moses is really the only backup OLB on Green Bay’s roster.
After fans spent most of day two and day three clamoring for a wide receiver of some sort, Ted Thompson finally obliged.
He used Green Bay’s first two seventh-round picks (it had three total) on the position. The first of those two picks was Grand Valley State’s Charles Johnson (10th pick of the round, 216th overall). Johnson is 6-feet, 2-inches and 215 pounds. He turned in a monster pro day in early March, highlighted by his 4.38 and 4.39 40 times and 39 1/2 inch vertical. In two years at GVSU (GLIAC represent!), he totaled 128 catches for 2,229 yards and 31 touchdowns.
One drawback: GVSU was the third college Johnson had attended. He left his first school, Eastern Kentucky, after being suspended (reasons unknown). He then spent a year, 2008, at Antelope Valley Community College in California (no, you read that right – that’s a real place). After taking 2009 off completely, he spent his final three college years at Grand Valley (redshirting in 2010). So yeah, that’s a tad troubling. But his skill set and collegiate production could make him a real find for the Packers.
The second of Green Bay’s two wideout selections – 18th pick of round seven, 224 overall – was Maryland’s Kevin Dorsey. Dorsey, 6-feet, 2-inches and 207 pounds, had only 18 catches for 311 yards and four scores in 2012. But it sounds like Maryland’s quarterback play was atrocious last year, so maybe you can’t blame him too much for the lack of production. He’s got good size, good hands and decent quickness. He’s not a great route-runner, though, and has trouble gaining separation from corners. A project, for sure.
The Packers capped off the draft by selecting another outside linebacker, South Florida’s Sam Barrington, with the 26th pick of the seventh round (232nd overall). Barrington had 80 tackles (6.5 for loss), three sacks and two forced fumbles in 2012. Barrington was drafted at outside linebacker, but at 6-feet, 1-inch and 246 pounds, you wonder if he wouldn’t be a better fit inside (Desmond Bishop, for example, is 6-feet, 2-inches and 238 pounds).
Okay, that wraps up our coverage of Green Bay’s selections. We’ll be back in a couple days to put a nice bow on the draft. And there’ll absolutely be a draft recap podcast over at the Packers Talk Radio Network, as well. Thanks for hanging out with us this weekend, gang.
As I type this, the draft is still going on. We’re well into round six, in fact.
But with the Green Bay Packers having so many picks – 10 in all at the start – on the final day of the draft, it seemed like a good time to check in with an early report on the first part of their day.
With their first four selections on day three, the Packers have continued their image overhaul, aiming for improvements on the ground, in the trenches and in terms of measurables.
The highlight of these first four picks, obviously, came when Green Bay packaged fifth-and-sixth round selections to gain a fourth rounder (pick 28 of the round, 125th overall), which it used to select UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin. I had a feeling last night – and wrote as much – that Green Bay would use some of its considerable late-round ammo to gain a third fourth round pick. I had no idea that pick would be used on a running back.
Franklin, 5-feet, 10-inches and 205 pounds, racked up 1,734 yards on 282 carries (6.1 YPC) and scored 13 touchdowns in 2012. He also caught 33 balls for 323 yards and two scores. He loves to get outside and, with his top-end speed, can leave defenders in his wake when he turns on the jets. He’s a durable back who is also quite good in pass protection, something you need if you just gave your quarterback an $110 million extension. If you’re thinking he’ll play lightening to second-round pick Eddie Lacy’s thunder, you aren’t alone.
Franklin, a player some had listed as the second-best back in the draft, provides great value at that spot. He also leaves the backfield situation, seemingly cleared up last night, murkier as of now. If you figure, as I do, that Franklin, Lacy, DuJuan Harris and Alex Green comprise the backs who could be on the roster, well, that’s probably one back too many right? And at this point, Harris is a better bet than Green is if you only keep three. But would they really give up on Green so soon? Remember, he was a third round pick just two years ago. Cutting him so soon goes against the entire organizational philosophy.
The smarter approach would be to cut fan-favorite John Kuhn. Kuhn is a short-yardage back who does well in pass-protection. Don’t Lacy and Franklin, combining their skill sets, make him obsolete? Could you turn, say Ryan Taylor, into an H-back type (OBOD’s Adam Somers made the Jim Kleinsasser comparison here, which really works)? That way you’d keep all four backs and have some real firepower there. Just something to consider.
Green Bay’s other two fourth round picks were spent on the offensive line. With the first of those, the Packers snagged Colorado tackle David Bakhtiari (109th pick overall, 12th pick of the round). Standing 6-feet, 4-inches and 295 pounds, he began his career on the right side before moving over to the left tackle spot for his final two years, where he played well. He’s got a nasty disposition and strong hands but can struggle with edge rushers, causing some to think he’ll move inside to guard. Either way, he’ll be a versatile player who should be expected to man a top backup spot somewhere right away.
The other offensive lineman taken in round four comes from the Ivy League as Green Bay tabbed Cornell tackle J.C. Tretter with the 25th pick of the round (122nd overall). At 6-feet, 4-inches, 302 pounds, Tretter has good feet, a good jump off the snap and a high-level of intelligence (obviously). His size and lack of arm length likely mean a move inside in the pros, possibly to guard but more likely to center. With Evan Dietrich-Smith on just a one-year deal, the best guess here is that Tretter will be groomed to be the center of the future for the Packers. If that’s the case, there’s a lot to like about this pick. You want a guy like this as your center
The last of the picks, for this wrap-up anyways, came in the fifth round when Green Bay selected Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde (159th overall, 26th pick of the round). Hyde provides great size for the corner position, standing 6-feet and 196 pounds. Hyde had 44 tackles (four for loss), 15 passes defended and one interception in his senior year last season. For his career, he picked off seven passes and defended 36.
Hyde possesses many of the traits Green Bay looks for in its defensive backs, namely he has very good ball skills. He also has great football smarts and awareness and is a really good tackler (something the Packers current DBs don’t always do well). He doesn’t have top-end speed, though, leading some to think he’ll be moved back to safety. That could happen eventually, but with his size, it’d be good to at least give him an early look at corner.
Okay, that wraps up those four picks. Unless Ted makes some more moves, there are five more picks to break down and we’ll do so shortly after the draft wraps up.
“No running backs this weekend, folks.”
Who wrote that just a couple of days ago? Who would say such a thing?
Well, that would be me.
In a move that a lot of Green Bay Packers fans wanted, but one yours truly did not expect at all, the Packers selected Alabama running back Eddie Lacy with the 29th pick in the second round (61st overall) of the draft Friday. Lacy’s selection came after Green Bay traded back six spots with the San Francisco 49ers (more on that in a bit).
Lacy, 5-feet, 11-inches and 231 pounds, was a one-year starter for the Crimson Tide. In that one year, last season, he racked up 1,322 yards on 204 attempts (6.5 YPC), hitting paydirt 17 times. He also caught 22 passes for 189 yards and two scores.
In a conference call with reporters after being selected, Lacy said “everything” when asked what his best attributes are. In reality, he might not be far off. He’s a tough, hard-nosed, physical runner who also brings a very nice, semi-sneaky dose of athletic ability (and boy, oh boy, can this guy spin).
It’s a safe bet that Lacy is already the No. 1 back on Green Bay’s depth chart at this point. He’ll play the role of every-down hammer for the offense. And when it’s 2nd-and-goal on the two-yard line, well, John Kuhn probably won’t be taking the handoffs anymore. DuJuan Harris becomes a change-of-pace back (and a nice one at that) and Alex Green likely serves as a pass-catching, screen-game back (where he probably should’ve been all along). This gives the Packers three backs in three clearly-defined roles, something they haven’t had in awhile. That’s important.
It also likely means the end of the line for James Starks and Cedric Benson in Titletown. But make no mistake, the offense just got quite a bit better with Lacy’s selection, one that I was never against, but rather just didn’t expect. That’s mostly due to how Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have treated the position in recent years. Outside of drafting Green in the third round two years ago, they’ve mostly tried to scrape by at running back.
But the selection of Lacy, along with first-round pick Datone Jones, shows the Packers are indeed going about building their team a different way. They are emphasizing attributes they’ve previously ignored as the focus now seems to be about getting tougher, more physical, fielding a team that is more capable of winning street fight games against the likes of the 49ers and New York Giants. These two picks don’t put Green Bay ahead of those teams, necessarily, but the Packers are much closer to catching them than they were Thursday afternoon.
As for Green Bay’s other selection Friday, there wasn’t one. In the third round, the Packers moved back five spots, from 88 to 93, in their second trade back of the day with San Francisco. At 93, Green Bay pulled off a deal with the Miami Dolphins, moving out of the third round completely, to pick 109 (12th pick of round four). Those two deals netted the Packers an extra seventh-rounder (from San Fran) and fifth-and-seventh-round picks (from Miami).
Toss in the first trade back deal with the Niners (which gave Green Bay a sixth-rounder) and the Packers now have a whopping 10 picks on the final day of the draft. I’m not at all pleased about allowing arguably your top competition in the NFC to move ahead of you twice, but Thompson definitely has a ton of ammunition for the final day now. With two 4s, three 5s, two 6s and 3 7s, it’s a safe bet Thompson will be looking to move back up on more than one occasion. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Green Bay used some of those later picks to move up early Saturday or even gain entirely new picks early on.
And with the depth that is still left on the board, that may end up being the smart play. Alabama’s duo of center Barrett Jones and nose tackle Jesse Williams are still available, as is Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton, all players who would look great in green and gold. Either way, it’s sure to be a frantic final day Saturday and we’ll be recapping all the madness here. As always, stay tuned.
Everyone knew the Green Bay Packers needed to use the 2013 NFL Draft to get better along the defensive line.
The Packers definitely have some talent at that spot, some of it high-end (B.J. Raji). But there was still something missing. There wasn’t that consistently fearsome presence off the edge.
There just might be now.
With the 26th pick in the first round Thursday night, the Packers snagged UCLA defensive end Datone Jones. In several ways, Jones fits the mold of what Green Bay needed to come out of this draft with on the line.
First, his size. At 6-feet, 4-inches, Jones (17.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last season) is instantly Green Bay’s tallest d-lineman. Should Johnny Jolly end up making the roster, Green Bay will be quite a bit taller up front, which is very important. Some will worry about Jones’ weight – at 283 pounds, you could consider him a tad light for a 3-4 NFL end. But there’s plenty of time for him to tack on an extra five-10 pounds, so I wouldn’t worry too much there.
He’s strong, smart, athletic and explosive and should help the Packers tremendously in defending read-option attacks, as well. In my draft primer from Thursday, I said the Packers needed to avoid project-type players and find guys who could make immediate impact at the positions they played in college. Check and check with this pick. If Jones isn’t starting in week one, that’s an upset in my mind.
Last season, Green Bay’s pass rush consisted far too often of Clay Matthews, Clay Matthews and Clay Matthews. This season, though, things could be much different (and much better). If the Packers can get Nick Perry, Matthews, Mike Neal (who really came on as the season progressed) and Jones on the field at the same time, that’s a foursome that WILL get after the quarterback. There’s simply too much there for teams to block all of them consistently.
Add in Raji’s occasional pass rush, Mike Daniels’ year two improvement and the return of Desmond Bishop and all of a sudden, pass rush could be a major strength not just for the defense, but the team as a whole.
You’ve got to love April, folks.
Now we enter into day two of the draft. The Packers have two picks, their own second and their own third and there’s still a lot of talent in this very deep draft left. As for what to look for today, I’m sticking with my primer predictions that had Green Bay going wide receiver and center, though I will adjust it a bit. Instead of strictly going for a wideout, I’d be good with the Packers taking a pass catcher of any kind, so a tight end would work, too.
Some names to consider at wide receiver include Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope, Marshall’s Aaron Dobson and, if Ted feels like taking a gamble, Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers. Yes, Rogers has had a ton of issues, mostly related to failed drug tests. But he may also be the most talented wideout in the entire draft. Is he worth the risk?
At tight end, I still love San Diego State’s Gavin Escobar, but Cincinnati’s Travis Kelce and Rice’s Vance McDonald are a pair of other names to consider.
At center, I’m still all about Alabama’s Barrett Jones. Cal’s Brian Schwenke could be a good fit, as well.
What do you think about Jones? Where do you think Green Bay should look today? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@Olbagofdonuts).
It’s here. It’s finally here!
We sit just 18 hours away from the Super Bowl of the NFL offseason. That’s right – it’s just about time for the NFL Draft.
(Sorry, I just can’t help myself.)
For fans of our beloved Green Bay Packers, what happens tonight through Saturday is of particular importance. As we know, Ted Thompson treats free agency like DARE pamphlets at a Snoop Dogg concert, so the draft is basically the entirety of Green Bay’s offseason in terms of adding new talent.
Not to mention, the Packers were one of the last eight teams playing this past season, so in order to get further in the postseason next time, Green Bay needs to add some key pieces at some important spots. Here’s where that will (or won’t) happen.
That being the case, I’ve decided to put together a primer for Packers fans for the draft. The following contains things I’d like to see happen and things I’d rather avoid for these massively important three days. Hopefully I can help guide you, my fellow Cheesehead, a little bit here, as well.
Continue reading Your 2013 Green Bay Packers draft primer
If you were wondering when – or, maybe, if – we would ever see Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre standing side-by-side again, you got your answer Saturday night.
In a rather surprising turn of events, the pair came together as presenters at the NFL Honors awards show in New Orleans. Outside of four post-game meetings, by all accounts the pair hasn’t really spoken since Favre’s time in Green Bay came to an end after the 2007 season.
Wait a second, wait a second – who am I kidding? “Surprising turn of events”? This was mind-blowing. It was utterly shocking. So shocking, in fact, that yours truly had absolutely no idea how to handle the news of them presenting together when I first heard it. Those two guys? Together in the same space? Were their respective families being held hostage and them going up on stage together was the only way to spare their lives? It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But there they were.
Continue reading Favre and Rodgers re-unite to present at awards show – where do we go from here?
I promised you a second part of our early offseason primer for the Green Bay Packers and dammit, that’s what you’re going to get.
Part one, for those who missed it (shame on you if you are one such person), can be found here. In part two, we’re talking contracts, the draft and free agency, not necessarily in that order. Enjoy!
- Question: We’re still a few months away from the draft. But let’s be honest, it’s never too early to talk about the draft, right? What are some areas the Packers could look to bolster in April?
Answer: No, it’s never too early. Never. In fact, I pretty much began my internal countdown to the draft within a day or two of the loss to the Niners (only 95 days away from round one!). Yeah, I’m deranged, I know. I haven’t really started my in-depth research – though I’m going to – so as of now, we’ll look more at positions rather than specific players.
Continue reading So, should we continue talking about the 2013 season? Sure, why not!
The 2012 season is over for the Green Bay Packers. And, yes, many are still trying to get over the San Francisco defeat and trying not to think of what could’ve been.
But, as we all know, the NFL never stops. That means it’s time to begin piecing together what the 2013 edition of the Packers could look like. And unlike in year’s past, it stands to reason this team will look much different come opening day. For the first time in a long time, there could be significant turnover on the roster and in the coaching staff.
That being the case, it seems appropriate to go comb over everything and figure out who will be back, who will be gone, who’s getting paid and who’s being paid too much (amongst other things). Consider this your early offseason primer for the green and gold. We’re going to do this in two parts because, frankly, it ended up being too long for one. Part two will run later in the week.
Continue reading So, should we talk about the 2013 season already? Yeah, we probably should
Waking up the day after your team’s season ends feels a lot like waking up the day after being dumped.
The finality. The embarrassment. The sense of failure. It just…it just stinks.
But that’s where we are today, a day after the Green Bay Packers were (quite literally) ran out of the playoffs, losing on the road to the San Francisco 49ers by a 45-31 count.
As much as I maybe don’t want to, I suppose I should give you some takeaways from the season-ending defeat, huh? Okay, here we go:
- Even now, a day after the loss, I’m still in shock – and still mortified – as to how badly this defense played. A defense that kept Adrian Peterson under 100 yards last week was completely ripped apart on the ground, allowing 323 – 323! – rushing yards on 43 attempts. In case you were wondering, yeah, that’s 7.5 yards a clip. There was no containment, guys were overplaying things all over the place and getting flat-out fooled by San Francisco’s read-option offense. It was almost as though they had no clue, or no real plan, for what they were up against. It was, in a word, pathetic. In a sense, it looked a lot like Green Bay’s first two games against Peterson. That made last night even more difficult to stomach, as it seemed the Packers had finally figured how to attack a run-first offense. Snake eyes on that roll, huh?
- That your defensive coordinator – a man who has been around the game forever – can’t or won’t make any adjustments or have his guys better prepared for what is, essentially, a high school-level offense, says a lot about Dom Capers. Namely, it says he needs to be relieved of his duties. In three of his four years as the man in charge of the defense, Capers has seen his units torn to shreds when it matters most (Arizona in 2010, New York last year and now this). The first two of those are a little more understandable – Kurt Warner and Eli Manning are great quarterbacks who have wrecked a lot of defenses. But to allow a second-year player, making his first postseason start, to account for 444 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns is inexcusable. It should be the final nail in Capers’ coffin in Titletown.
- I mean, how often did you even see someone spying Colin Kaepernick last night? I can only really think of one play where Brad Jones was filling that role. It may have happened more and I just didn’t notice it, but it sure didn’t appear that way.
- For the “players make or don’t make plays, not coaches” crowd, yes, you have some valid points after this one. Clay Matthews, for example, was far too quiet considering his opponent, left tackle Joe Staley, appeared to be playing with one good arm. Tramon Williams failed to adequately cover for most of the night. Erik Walden was a nightmare to watch. Pretty much anyone not named Sam Shields had a bad night for the defense, really.
- Mike McCarthy abandoning the run in the second half really put this offense in a tough spot. It was unnecessary to do and ended up forcing Aaron Rodgers to do everything himself. You knew then this team was in deep trouble.
- For the night, Rodgers turned in a solid showing and did his all to keep this team in the game. Considering how badly the defense played, the game would’ve been over much quicker in the hands of a lesser quarterback. He only really made one bad decision and that interception wouldn’t have hurt the team so much if someone would’ve tackled Tarell Brown on his return.
- Shows you how little we know – Adam and I both said on our podcast this past week that if the offensive line kept Aldon Smith and Justin Smith in check, the Packers would win. Well, the two only accounted for one quarterback hit and the Niners still romped. For what it’s worth, though, the offensive line did turn in a nice performance as a whole.
- Should McCarthy have punted on 4th and 5 near midfield with his team down 14 early in the fourth? Absolutely not. What faith could he have possibly had in his defense at that point? It’s five yards. You have the MVP under center. It’s the playoffs. I’ll never understand that decision. Certainly not his best coaching job overall last night.
- So, now it’s over and we’re left with one big question: Was this team really that good? The answer is yes AND no, I’ve decided. The Packers won their division for the second year in a row. They also racked up 11 wins. Those things aren’t easy to do. BUT, they also went 2-4 against playoff teams. The offense took a major step back from its record-setting 2011 pace and the defense – despite overall improvement – was shredded in five of the team’s six losses (allowing 30+ points in each of those five defeats). And, as I said on Twitter last night, for a team and a city that defines itself by titles, this season was indeed a failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t take away good games or moments or say you had fun watching them – it just means the ultimate mission fell short. That’s all.
- It’s probably unfair to say this team finds itself at a major crossroads this offseason. But it’s certainly a big one, as numerous changes could loom on the horizon. I’ll be writing about that on this site in the next few days, so be sure to pop back here when you can.
- Lastly, thanks to everyone who has started migrating back to our site over the second half of the year. I know we dropped off the radar there for awhile, but we’re back and it feels great to say that. The season is over, but we aren’t going anywhere.