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Hillenmeyer flourishes after Packers cut him

Discussion in 'All Other Team Discussions' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    By BOB McGINN
    bmcginn@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: Jan. 30, 2007

    Miami - If drafting punter B.J. Sander in the third round was Mike Sherman's most indefensible act as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, dumping Hunter Hillenmeyer one game into his rookie season ranks among the top five.



    Hillenmeyer remembers his release as if it were yesterday, a stunning moment in September 2003 that he discussed Tuesday during Super Bowl media day from his status as a highly compensated starter at strong-side linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

    "It definitely was a bump in the road," Hillenmeyer said. "But, in hindsight, it's probably the best thing that's happened to me in my entire NFL career."

    Hillenmeyer was one of those players with whom Sherman fell in love and then gave up a draft choice in order to move up and select him. The Packers took him in the fifth round out of Vanderbilt.

    In training camp, Hillenmeyer played briefly on the strong side but generally worked behind fellow rookie Nick Barnett in the middle. He made the 53-man roster but when injuries struck at wide receiver in the opener, the Packers added Antonio Freeman and someone had to go.

    "They pulled me right out of our morning team meeting and I went up and talked to him," Hillenmeyer said. "I think it was a Wednesday."

    Sherman wanted Hillenmeyer to accept a berth on the team's practice squad after clearing waivers. But within three hours, his agent informed Hillenmeyer of interest from the Bears and other teams.

    Three days after being waived, Hillenmeyer joined the practice squad in Chicago.

    "We had a little back and forth whether I was going to go to Chicago," Hillenmeyer said. "I actually had kind of a lengthy meeting with Sherman that day. He told me that I was making a huge mistake."

    The Bears promoted Hillenmeyer to their active roster 2½ weeks later and he has been there ever since. In one of his subsequent appearances against the Sherman-coached Packers, Hillenmeyer was approached by the coach-GM.

    "He came up before one of our games, shook my hand and said, 'You made the right decision,' " Hillenmeyer said. "I think that when he said it he believed it. That I had put all that time in training camp in Green Bay and knew the system, and to start over with a new one in Chicago would have been a big step in the wrong direction."

    At the time, the Packers had Hannibal Navies and Na'il Diggs starting alongside Barnett. Their backups were Paris Lenon and Marcus Wilkins, two disposable players, and Torrance Marshall was three weeks away from returning from a drug suspension. The club didn't think Hillenmeyer was very good on special teams.

    If the Packers were so enthusiastic about Hillenmeyer in April, shouldn't they have given him more than one week of the regular season to prove they were right?

    "I don't think I played bad but I just don't think I had an opportunity," Hillenmeyer said. "It's at least partially my fault for not making a name for myself early enough. Unless you're a first- or second-round pick, if you don't make plays right from the day you walk in the door, you're not going to be there."

    When the Packers anointed Barnett as their No. 1 middle linebacker on draft day, Hillenmeyer became something of an afterthought.

    "The problem with Nick is he needed every rep because they had to get a rookie ready to start and run the defense," Hillenmeyer said. "I wouldn't even get in until the fourth quarter of the (exhibition) games. That didn't leave many reps for me to adjust to the speed of the game."

    Hillenmeyer played 13 games on special teams for the Bears in 2003, then replaced Warrick Holdman on the strong side in '04. He ended up starting four games outside and seven games in the middle for injured Brian Urlacher.

    After Hillenmeyer started again in '05, the Bears rewarded him last June with a six-year, $15.02 million contract containing roster bonuses totaling $5 million over two seasons.

    "He's a very good player and we paid him, obviously," Bears linebackers coach Bob Babich said. "He's going to be around for a long time."

    Hillenmeyer, 6 feet 4 inches and 238 pounds, is overshadowed by Urlacher and Lance Briggs, both of whom made all-pro. He isn't a bad athlete (35½-inch vertical jump) and is the smartest player at Super Bowl XLI (39 on the Wonderlic test), but his 40-yard dash time was just 4.84 seconds coming out of college.

    "He is such a quick dissector of plays and that allows him maybe to play a step quicker," Babich said. "We feel very confident in his speed."

    Hillenmeyer has shown limited big-play ability but the strong side isn't a big-play position and he doesn't get a chance to play on passing downs. Not only does he think that his level of play matches up well with the worst starting linebacker for most teams, he has long since forgiven the Packers.

    "The first couple games were a big deal but Sherman's not there anymore," he said. "There's no spite toward them from a 'they cut me' standpoint. It doesn't need any extra motivation. They're our biggest rival."
     
  2. P@ck66

    P@ck66 Banned Banned

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    Sherman's a jackass and will probably never get another Head Coaching job in the NFL...

    What does that tell you?
     
  3. trippster

    trippster Cheesehead

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    Sherman's not a Jackass. he is just human. At the time and I think still, Barnett's a better player. Someone had to go.


    If Hillemeyer doesn't blame Sherman, why do you?

    What is it about Sherman that you don't like? his winning record in GB? The fact that he was respected by his players? That he is a nice guy? What is it?

    PAck, you have one of the best rear view mirrors I have ever seen. Do you ever make judgements without the benefit of hindsight?

    Sherman's gone. move on.
     
  4. P@ck66

    P@ck66 Banned Banned

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    Do you see any of these guys still with the Packers or anywhere, yet Hillenmeyer is starting with the Bears and playing in the SB?

    See the discrepency?

    Sherman was a control freak and a fool who was in over his head both as a GM and HC, and he didn't how to tweak a very talented team that he was given to get them over the hump....

    Mr. Nice Guy wasn't seen as being so nice by many of the assistant coaches who worked with him, and he sacrificed people by firing them over his own incompetence. Except his pet hump Rossley, for some reason...although you don't see him burning up the NFL anywhere either now, do you...???
     
  5. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    To get back on topic.........


    Good for Hunter, glad to know he is moving on and doesnt hold any hard feelings..I wish him very good luck, but not enough gl to win
     
  6. trippster

    trippster Cheesehead

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    Every team, every GM , and every coach at points in their carreer, gives up and let go, someone that they like (or dislike) only to have that player go on and flourish in another system. By the way, Lenon is a starter with Detroit. Torrence Marshal was highly thought of coming out of college.

    Once agian, this is rear view commentary Pack.

    Who DO you like at the helm? Tell me who YOU think would make a great (not good....good is not enough as evidenced by your distaste for Sherman) head coach? Remember, they must be available and willing.

    Also, put your Harlan hat on....who would you have as GM too? I may have missed it in the past, but while disliking the recent hirings on Lombardi ave, I don't recall and solutions to the problems that you think exist.
     
  7. digsthepack

    digsthepack Cheesehead

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    Hey Tripp...Torrence Marshall was removed from many team's boards because of massive character issues and the fact he was dumb as a rock. But, can't cut a 3rd rounder for a guy like Hillenmeyer who was taken in the 5th because that would look bad...shine a poor light on MS's lack of competence as a GM.

    Lenon is a marginal player playing for a horrible team...he should be the starter for the Kitties. He is nothing to keep when a talent like Hillenmeyer was there. Again, the loyalty of MS to those undeserving lead to a poor decision.

    All Hillenmeyer ever did during his entire collegiate career was lead the team in tackles year in and year out because as a smart, intellectually and football wise, player, he saw where **** was going and was there to meet it. Kinda what you like in LBs, hmmmmm?

    Production over impressive 40 times and raw physical talent...how we draft now, by the way. And look at the players we have now.
     
  8. all about da packers

    all about da packers Cheesehead

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    That you have a hard time letting go.....

    You came back at least attempting to be sensible, but lately you seem to go on an anti-Sherman rant given the tiniest of opportunities...

    While on the topic, Sherman may have eventually failed at Favre's best shot of winning another SB, but hey at least he tried to get things done. You knew his heart was in being the coach of the Packers, and that is more than what you can say for all other NFL coaches (see Mora Jr., Jim).

    Even Belichick was terrible in his first stint as a HC, but he got another chance.... As a mater of fact it is reported that were it not for the silly asking price Sherman made, he'd be the Cards coach as of today....

    Also, Adam Schefter on NFLN said that Mike Sherman was getting positive reviews in his HC interviews, and before the start of the 08 season he expected Sherman to have a HC job again.....

    As a matter of fact I can understand your frustration, but you've gone beyond the frustration point and seem to have a vendetta against Sherman as if he personally insulted you. IF anyone should have that vendetta, it should be the Players who played under Sherman, especially Favre because of his missed chances at the Superbowl. Yet when Sherman announced he was fired, the players gave him a standing ovation that lasted a few minutes. Favre NEVER once spoke ill about Sherman, nor did any of his teammates.

    Yes Jags and ex RB coach Rowland spoke ill about Sherman, but what about the people who defended Sherman: DB/DCSlowick, LB coach Duffner, DB Asst. Wasington, ex RB coach Croom (who made Green a star), ex WR coach Ray Sherman (no relation), and the biggest name: ex DC Jim Bates. These people stated their respect for Sherman, and never said a bad thing about him.

    I'll take it a step further, calling Sherman a jackass sheds light into the type of man you are.... Sherman gave it his all and was a great guy off the field, some things that are quite admirable.... he had the respect of his players and never once did they quit on him even through rough starts.... that shows he may have been a lot of things, but jackass is certainly not one of them.

    In fact I believe a lot of people on this forum alone (definitely more than 2/3) will say negative things about you..... if Sherman is a jackass, by your standards what would that make you?
     
  9. P@ck66

    P@ck66 Banned Banned

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    I doubt it's 2/3rds AADP...

    (Should we have a Poll..?? I think I know how you would vote..)

    ....I seem to have struck a nerve with you regarding ex-Packer coach Sherman...

    I will give you this..

    It really wasn't all Sherman's fault. It was mostly Harlan's for listening to Wolf and giving Sherman the GM position, when the was the jury was still out on him as H.C.....
     

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