Fred Couples: “I love Steve Stricker. Everything he does is first class.”

MADISON, Wisconsin | PGA TOUR Champions golfer Fred Couples was among the golfing legends competing in day two of the Pro-Am at University Ridge golf course in Madison on Thursday. Couples will take part in the American Family Insurance Championship Friday-Sunday at U Ridge.

Couples, who has been a force in golf ever since his first PGA Tour victory in 1982 at the Kemper Open, is still a fan favorite. A group of kids were asking for a picture with him while he was on the driving range Thursday. His reaction? “Sure! Come here.”

Keep in mind the driving range is off limits to the general public. And Couples needs all the practice he can get after spending most of last season and part of this one out with a sore back. But Couples not only made time for the kids and their Dad. He also spent a few minutes giving props to Steve Stricker for being who he is and for hosting the Am Fam Championship.

“I love Steve Stricker,” said Couples. “He’s been a friend forever. Everything he does is first class so I’m sure this is a great spot.”

Couples went on to talk about his longtime relationship with Stricker and explained why he’s so well liked among his peers.

“He’s very friendly and has a great family. He’s gonna be a perfect President’s Cup captain. He’s just easy to be around.”

Couples says he doesn’t know a whole lot about the city of Madison. He’s been here a couple times before for various golf events. But he’s going to take in the Darius Rucker concert at Breese Stevens Field on Friday night and will return to the Badger State to see his Seattle Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in September.

“I will  not have any Seahawks gear on. I won’t do that!”

Couples, who is 57 years old, says he will continue to play on the PGA Champions Tour as long as he’s competitive.

“If there comes a time I’m in 25th or 30th place, I can’t do that. My body is not strong enough anyone. Hopefully I have two or three more years. I keep saying that but hopefully.

Packers release DT Mike Pennel

The Green Bay Packers have released defensive tackle Mike Pennel.

Pennel, who was suspended twice this year for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, played in 37 games over the past three seasons with five starts. The 25-year-old had 29 tackles and one sack during his time with Green Bay.

At one point thought to be a starter in the team’s 3-4 base defense, Pennel was suspended for the first four games of this season. He played in eight games, registering five tackles and one pass break-up, before once again being suspended for a second violation and missing the final four games of the regular season. Green Bay had a roster exemption for Pennel that expired on Monday.

In addition to his off the field concerns, Pennel became expendable, in part, due to the play of rookie Dean Lowry over the last half of the season.

Green Bay will travel to Dallas this Sunday to take on the Cowboys in an NFC Divisional Round playoff game with the winner advancing to the conference title game.

Aaron Rodgers leads the Packers to a 31-24 victory over the Lions and an NFC North title

It was a never a guarantee, just a feeling. But whatever you want to call it, quarterback Aaron Rodgers delivered on it.

A little more than five weeks after telling reporters that he felt the Green Bay Packers could run the table and win out, that’s exactly what the team did with a 31-24 NFC North-clinching win in Detroit Sunday night.

“That’s what you have to do sometimes as a leader,” Rodgers said of his ‘run the table’ comment that came in the midst of a four-game losing streak to drop the Packers to 4-6 on the year. “You have to exude confidence even in a situation where it seems to the outside world that confidence shouldn’t exist. And that’s what I did. I believe in myself and my abilities, but I also believe in this team. This wasn’t just a shot in the dark.”

Since making that comment, the Packers are 6-0 and Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdowns and no interceptions, and put himself firmly in the race for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, something he’s taken home twice in his career already.

“Great players make other players so much better around them,” coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers, who finished the season with 40 touchdowns to lead the NFL.

The Lions led at the half 14-10, but a 10-play, 75-yard drive, that Rodgers capped off with a 3-yard touchdown to wide receiver Davante Adams, gave Green Bay a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. All but one of the Packers four touchdown drives went at least 70 yards, including on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to virtually seal the game.

“There was never any reason not to believe we were going to be here today,” McCarthy said when asked how his team turned things around after the 4-6 start. “This team, they’re different.

“This team has an energy, it has an edge, it has confidence that was evident very early in our preseason. I’ve always believed in that. And they believe in that. Maybe that’s why we aren’t doing cartwheels right now.”

They aren’t because the end goal wasn’t to win the NFC North. It was a goal, but not the goal. That — a victory in Super Bowl LI — remains out there, starting with a visit from the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.

“We have bigger aspirations,” McCarthy said. “This is the first step. This is the threshold to get in the playoffs, getting in this tournament. We’ll move on Monday. Get healthy (and) get ready for the Giants.”

Injuries strike

Green Bay has been tormented by injuries throughout the year, and that continued on Sunday night, specifically in the secondary where they lost three cornerbacks — Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall and Makinton Dorleant — in close succession.

The most serious appeared to Rollins, who landed hard on the Detroit sideline early in the second half, and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital, and Packers officials said he was alert and able to move all his extremities.

Randall injured his knee in the first half and didn’t return, while Dorleant was carted off after being injured on special teams in the second half.

The injuries left safety Micah Hyde as one of the two outside cornerbacks along with LaDarius Gunter, while safety Morgan Burnett was forced to play as the nickel cornerback in the slot.

Tickets on sale

The team announced that about 8,000 tickets were available to the general public for the playoff game against the Giants at Lambeau Field. The sale was the result of tickets not claimed by season-ticket holders.

You can order them here:

Mike Daniels: ‘(I’m) sick of this s***’

The Green Bay Packers frustrations on the field Sunday boiled over into the locker room following a less than stellar performance in a 31-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

While reporters were in the midst of interviewing players at their lockers, a loud voice boomed from inside the shower room, going off about his team’s play in the wake of falling to 4-4 on the year. reported that the voice belonged to fiery defensive end Mike Daniels, who was furious with the play of a team that had Super Bowl aspirations coming into the year.

“What the (expletive) are we doing, man?” Daniels shouted. “(I’m) sick of this (expletive).”

Here is an edited version of that audio:


Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was asked about the outburst and whether it was a sign that frustration was building within the team.

“That’s a question for (Daniels),” the veteran said.

The rant came on a day where the Packers had very little energy from the start, allowing the Colts to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. It wasn’t until the final few offensive possessions that Green Bay came alive, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back drives, but the comeback fell short.

“I don’t understand it,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the lack of energy. “This is what we get paid to do, is to bring it every week, and I hope the guys would say I bring it every week. I mean, I love this game and I bring the energy. I’m not a rah-rah guy, but I’m a focused, enthusiastic player, and I don’t know what the lack of juice was. You kind of felt it over the entire sideline.

“We didn’t have the same kind of enthusiasm and encouragement that we had the previous two weeks. So we’ve got to look deep in the mirror there, because that’s just not acceptable.”

Packers release Matt Rotheram and Jesse Schmitt

GREEN BAY, WIs. — The Green Bay Packers have released G Matt Rotheram and LS Jesse Schmitt. The transactions were announced Monday by Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson.

Rotheram, a 6-foot-5, 325-pound first-year player out of the University of Pittsburgh, originally signed with the Packers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2015 and spent the entire 2015 season on Green Bay’s practice squad.

Schmitt, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound rookie out of Purdue signed with Green Bay on Aug. 9.

Nelson returns to practice with no setbacks

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers receiver Jordy Nelson returned to practice Monday afternoon, roughly one year after tearing his ACL in a preseason game against the Steelers.

Nelson was relegated to individual drills only, but made some sharp cuts and sudden stops that would seem to indicate a completely healthy right knee.  He took passes from Aaron Rodgers as part of a duo that many say rivals the best in the NFL.

Nelson’s availability for the remainder of the preseason games is uncertain at this point, but it’s step towards returning to his Pro Bowl status.