Grandma's saying rings true despite COVID-19

Grandma Lamb - God rest her soul - often told me when I was growing up that I should always try to find something good in something bad.
I found nothing good about COVID-19 until late last week when I stumbled across an old fisherman off the southern tip of French Island.
Sitting in the warmth of my Jeep with the outside temperature only 33 degrees and an unwelcome damp breeze, I watched the old-timer unload a 5-gallon bucket, two fishing poles, a small tackle box and live bait from his SUV. He pulled on a heavy wool coat and trudged down to one of the boat docks at Veterans Point Marina.
The gate to the dock was open and unlocked. The senior angler baited up his poles and began fishing.
I watched a few minutes, then stepped outside and walked toward shore. I snapped a few photos and then shouted out the standard fisherman's greeting.
"How they bitin'?" I blurted out.
"Just got here," he shouted back.
I watched him a few more minutes, took a couple more photos and then shouted, "Would you like to do a video with me?"
Pulling his hoodie down a little, the old-timer shouted back, "Sure, I guess so."
I returned to my Jeep, got my video recorder and walked down the gangplank to meet the old guy.
"My name is Bob Lamb and I would like to do a video interview with you for my website - boblamboutdoors," I said.
"Oh, you're Bob Lamb. I always enjoyed your outdoors stories in the newspaper. Well, I am certainly happy to meet you after all these years, Bob," he replied as we bumped elbows, while mentioning the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
We visited several minutes. I learned the old-timer is pushing 80, is a lifelong La Crosse resident, loves to fish as well as talk about fishing.
We hashed over the good old days of bullhead fishing, reeling in sunfish, crappies and perch, as well as pursuing larger fish like catfish, northern pike, bass and walleye.
OK, let's try a video," I suggested.
"OK, Bob," he replied.
Once you see the video on our homepage - albeit more than 8 minutes long - you will easily see I found something good in something as bad as COVID-19.
Thanks, Duane Johnson (pictured)!

We couldn't believe our eyes

There's something special about living in the country.
Early Tuesday morning I realized once more why we enjoy retirement life in the country so much. The clock showed 1:50 a.m., when I awoke from a sound sleep.
Crawling out of bed and looking out our bedroom windows, I rubbed my eyes, paused and stared at the lone blue spruce in the snow in our backyard.
In front of the tree was a large black image laying in the snow. I took a couple of steps toward the windows and noticed another image even closer. Their dark silhouettes stood out easily in the snow.
I backed away slowly, tip-toed into our study and then into our great room, peering out those windows each time.
The two images were of deer, bedded down less than 20 yards from our home. I snatched my camera from the study desk, then tip-toed back into the bedroom. By now my better half was awake.
"What are you doing?" she said, wiping her eyes.
"There are two deer bedded down right outside - one by the tree and the other one even closer," I whispered.
Needless to say, Kathy couldn't believe her eyes either.
"Nobody will believe this," she whispered.
"That's why I'm going to take a couple of photos and hope the flash doesn't go off," I whispered back.
I nestled the camera lens against the window and snapped two quick photos without any camera flash. The deer didn't move. They didn't even turn their heads toward us.
We watched them for the next 20 minutes. It was a sight to behold below the cloudy skies.
Laying motionless in the snow, they only moved their heads, cautiously looking for humans or predators.
We crawled back into bed at 2:20 whispering back and forth how long we thought the deer had been there or how long they would stay.
Kathy leaned up from bed just after 2:30. The show was over. No curtain call. The deer had disappeared.
We muttered a few words about how surprised we were that they would bed down on our snow-covered lawn. We have watched many deer walk or run through our backyard, front yard and between our home and the neighbor's condo in the last six years. Never did we expect to see deer bed down so close to our home.
That's why we enjoy living in the country, whether it's watching pheasants, coyotes, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, garter snakes and deer.
That's why I always tell people where we live is like fishing the Mississippi River. You never know what you're going to catch on any given day.

Packers must jump out to early lead against 49ers

I hope the Green Bay Packers get the football first on Sunday.
If they win the coin toss against the San Francisco 49ers, I pray they don't defer to the second half. If the 49ers wins the toss, I hope and pray they defer and force the Packers to accept the opening kickoff.
Why? Because the Packers must start quickly to begin the NFC Championship game. They must grab an early lead and then turn their defense loose.
This has been a topic of conversation throughout media outlets this week. The common strategy among NFL gurus is that a team should defer the opening kickoff for the second half because the chances are greater that team will have the last offensive possession before halftime and then get the ball back immediately in the second half.
I don't know about you, but in my years spent listening, watching and covering NFL games, it doesn't happen all that frequently.
Let's be clear. Green Bay is not a "come-from-behind" team when it plays against NFL elite teams, especially in critical games. All we need to do is flashback to the Packers-49ers regular season game. Granted, the Packers had the ball first, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers fumbled resulting in a quick 7-0 deficit. Green Bay faced a 10-0 hole by the end of the first quarter and a 23-0 crater by halftime. Frisco went on to a 37-8 rout. However, I guarantee that won't repeat again if the same scenario presents itself.
Let me ask you this. As an athlete, would you prefer to play from behind or ahead?
That's why I hope the Packers get the ball on offense to open the game.
What do you think?

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49ers far superior to Packers

Two games, same outcome.
The Green Bay Packers were bruised, battered and completely dominated up front on both sides of the ball in a beating by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
The score was closer than the 37-8 loss the first time the two teams met in regular season, but the 37-20 score really isn't indicative how badly the Packers were beaten.
I wrote a blog more than a week ago, saying the Packers had to jump out to a quick lead to have any chance.
I stated in the blog that if the Packers won the coin toss, they shouldn't defer to the second half.
Why? Because the Packers had to start quickly, grab an early lead and then hope their defense could hold up in the NFC Championship game.
While the common NFL philosophy is that a team should defer the opening kickoff to the second half because the chances are greater to have the last offensive possession before halftime and guaranteed to get the ball to begin the second half.
So, what did the Packers do when they won the coin toss on Sunday? They deferred to the second half.
Oh sure. Green Bay's defense forced San Francisco into a 3-and-out after the opening kickoff, but were were stopped on their opening drive. The 49ers got the ball back. Six plays and 89 yards later, Frisco had a 7-0 lead. Oh-oh! At that moment I knew the game was over. Green Bay simply can't play from behind against an elite NFL team. A 27-0 halftime deficit sealed it for me.
The Packers took the second half kickoff and marched 75 yards in 11 plays to cut the margin to 27-7, but it was too little, too late. Everyone in the stadium knew the 49ers were going to win.In all honesty, the coin toss strategy didn't make any difference against the 49ers. If we weren't convinced the 49ers were far superior in talent and speed after the first game, Frisco stamped it on our foreheads with their cleats on Sunday. Perhaps Packers rookie coach Matt LaFleur said it best:
"They were better, faster and more physical than us," LaFleur said. "They got after us two games. Right now they're the gold standard in the NFC."
Turnovers, missed opportunities and a dreadful night trying to defend 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (220 yards and four touchdowns), Green Bay certainly showed it was the inferior team. In all truthfulness, I'm not sure the Packers could win one game against the 49ers if they faced each other 10 times this season.

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Packers' Rodgers must change roles

Aaron Rodgers needs a role change.
The Green Bay Packers' veteran quarterback (pictured) must do his best "Superman" impression by stepping into a phone booth and changing into Clark Kent.
Rather than being "Da Man," as he has been all these years, Rodgers must be "Da Manager" for the remainder of his NFL career. Don't get me wrong. The Packers road Rodgers' arm and legs for years, but it's time for a change. Not only for the franchise, but also for himself.
The first step began more than a year ago when head coach Mike McCarthy was fired. Loyal Packers' followers knew Rodgers and McCarthy had drawn lines in the sand. While they were joined arm and arm in the "Pass first, run second" philosophy for years, their divorce was imminent in 2018. One of them was going to leave and it wasn't Rodgers. Good call!
Exit McCarthy. Enter young Matt LaFleur, an NFL head coaching newcomer with an entirely different offensive scheme, including a run-pass-option game.
Despite all eyes on the new marriage for months, Rodgers and LaFleur hit it off beautifully and the Packers finished with a surprising 13-3 regular-season record.
By most standards, Rodgers has had an uncharacteristic down year, but the Packers still won. That's most important.
Rodgers certainly isn't washed up, but as he openly describes in golf terms, has "made the turn to the back nine," of his stellar career. That doesn't mean the 36-year-old doesn't have it anymore. Personally, I would take Rodgers any time, any day against every other QB in the league, especially in the playoffs. However, injuries are beginning to take their toll on the sure first-time ballot NFL Hall of Famer.
So, how can he change?
First, Rodgers is extremely cerebral, a chess master who continues to out-think even the best NFL defensive coordinators in the league. He is a true veteran leader, the man players and coaches rely upon. Rodgers still has a very good arm, although not as strong before his two collarbone injuries. He is also a very good scrambler, although his legs are showing their age, and wear and tear as the Green Bay starting quarterback for the last 17 seasons. Yet, perhaps his best strengths now are running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.
Rodgers' most glaring weakness, at least this year, is passing accuracy. He's been off a tick or more several times, including 16 overthrows in the season finale at Detroit. However, he still connected on some precise throws only Aaron Rodgers can make in many other games including a few in Green Bay's "must-win" regular-season finale over Detroit for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. The other weakness is a sub-par receiving corps other than No. 1 Davante Adams.
To prolong his career and boost the playoff run, Rodgers must become more of a game manager than a game changer, similar to what other older quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees have become. Rodgers should not try to carry the team on his shoulders alone. Focus more on the rushing and the short passing games which, in turn, should free up receivers downfield. It will not only serve Rodgers well now, but also in the long run as he enjoys a career into his 40s.

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