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PHOENIX (AP) — As part of the celebration of its 100th season Youth Dexter Williams Jersey , the NFL will break from tradition and feature the Packers vs. the Bears in its season opener Sept. 5.Usually, the Super Bowl champion is the home team for the prime-time opener, but the league wants to salute historic rivalries in 2019. None fits better than Chicago-Green Bay. The teams have met 198 times since 1921, when the Bears were the Chicago Staleys. Green Bay leads the series 97-95-6, including the clubs splitting two postseason games.Staging the Thursday night game at Chicago’s Soldier Field — even if it is a modernized version of the stadium — adds to the theme. There will be a free fan festival and concert in nearby Grant Park and, for the first time, the league has approved a free viewing event of the game in the park.“We see that around other sports,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president for league events. Such viewings, for example, have been a staple of the World Cup for decades, and hockey also has adopted the practice. “It will create a big festival environment.”This will be the first time since 2003 the Super Bowl champion has not played in the opener. New England instead will open at home in the prime-time game Sunday night, Sept. 8. The opponent has not yet been determined. The full schedule will be announced next month.“With the 100th season, we want to do something to kick it off in a special way,” said Hans Schroeder, the league’s chief operating officer of media. “We’re celebrating the Bears, one of the original member clubs, in their 100th season, and the Packers are in their 101st. It’s an iconic matchup.”Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel invoked the name of George Halas, the team’s founder, in welcoming the news.“George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas and the NFL’s co-founders probably didn’t imagine the federation they established 100 years ago in cities and towns across the Midwest would one day be the most successful professional sports league in the world White Dexter Williams Jersey ,” Emanuel said in a statement. “But that’s what their vision achieved. Chicago — the most American of American cities — is the perfect venue for this game.”Schroeder and Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer, outlined other plans for the 100th season: NFL Films will produce a series that selects the 100 greatest teams, plays, games, characters and game changers; an all-time team is being chosen and will be featured in a TV series; and Peyton Manning will talk to fans around the country about the history of the NFL for another television series.The league also disclosed plans for next month’s draft that will supplement the proceedings in Nashville. Teams will make selections in eight of the original 13 towns that comprised the NFL for its first season. In Dayton, Ohio, the field used back then, Triangle Park, still exists, and a selection will be made there. The NFL also has committed to installing new turf on the field.“This is a really special moment for our city,” Dayton mayor Nan Whaley said. “We’re excited that the NFL is recognizing the places that were there in the very beginning and that they are celebrating Dayton’s special history in paving the way for the league with a donation that will leave a lasting impact in the community.”Each of the 32 clubs will stage a “Fantennial Weekend” during the regular season in which it will work in conjunction with local high school football teams on a Friday, stage a fan festival on Saturday, and then have former players from the NFL club at the game on Sunday. The home team also will reveal the greatest moment or play in its history that day.Rolapp said the league is talking to DIRECTV about expanding the digital presence for its popular Sunday Ticket option that makes available all out-of-market games. The NFL could opt out of its contract with DIRECTV after next season.“The world has really changed and how people consume games has changed,” he said. “How do we broaden these rights, deliver more easily to digital platforms?” The APC writers share their feelings about Green Bay’s unexpectedly lucrative opening salvo in free agency."Raise your hand if you thought the Green Bay Packers would have signed four free agents by now. Okay, now put it down again. I don’t want to sound mean here, but I think you’re a liar. Anyone who expected the Packers to be this active this early is either fibbing or should purchase a lottery ticket to take more profitable advantage of their clairvoyance.Even acknowledging that Brian Gutekunst has pledged to be more active in free agency, this was unexpected. A day later, we’re still processing exactly what went down. Here are our early reactions to an exciting early portion of free agency in Green Bay.Evan “Tex” Western: Pumped upI’ve been a Ted Thompson defender for a long time, with the exception of one item: that he didn’t sign enough free agents on the margins. I’m talking specifically about guys who could contribute to the team’s depth or special teams. Of course Muhammad Wilkerson Jersey , his draft-and-develop strategy only works when you draft and develop well, and his struggles to do so forced Brian Gutekunst’s hand this year, as it created a ton of holes on the roster.Suddenly, those holes all seemed to be filled up -- or at least well on their way. Matthews and Perry are out, replaced by the Smith tandem and allowing the Packers the flexibility to not draft a pass-rusher at 12 if their board doesn’t call for it. Adrian Amos provides a terrific, versatile fit at safety, where the Packers’ depth has been ravaged by underperforming Thompson picks who played their way into trades out of Green Bay. And then there’s Billy Turner...well, at least he’s a versatile player who provides a possible starter at right guard and some insurance everywhere else. That’s solid.Perhaps the best news, however, is the way the contracts are structured. Yes, in order to keep cap hits down they are backloaded, but there are a couple of critical items to keep in mind there. First is the fact that the deals all have outs after year two. Should any of these players fail to live up to their contracts, they can be released or restructured without much pain in 2021. The other factor is that the NFL will need to write up a new CBA that year, which should result in another big salary cap jump like the one that happened in 2011. It’s a great way to structure these contracts, and it allows the team to still make a couple of key moves for the 2019 team while avoiding cap hell down the road.Paul Noonan: Very good, with knock-on effects. I’m probably the biggest Ted Thompson guy around here and I think free agency should be approached with caution, but it’s hard not to like every single one of these moves. No signing is in any way back-breaking or crippling, now or in the future (Russ Ball still works just fine, as it turns out); every signing is an upgrade at worst. Turner is probably the least likely to stand out, but even he is a somewhat interesting prospect who could still excel if allowed to focus at guard. Even if Amos and the Smiths are just average they are still enormous upgrades over their incumbents, and taking Amos from Chicago is extra sweet. Most importantly DeShone Kizer Jersey , all of these signings will allow the Packers to have enormous flexibility in the upcoming draft. While it is tough to create surplus value in free agency alone, the fact that they can focus on the best player available throughout the draft will allow them to create much more surplus value than they otherwise would have in their rookies. That’s a huge win and may be the best explanation of why Ted ultimately failed over the last 3 years of his tenure. While the draft is still the best pipeline for bargain players, you need to be more creative than ever in creating an edge over the other teams in the draft. Through deft use of free agency, the Packers now sit in an enviable draft position. Irony of ironies. Jon Meerdink: Excited about the draftAs Paul alluded to in his entry, the Packers are now supremely well-positioned for the draft. In addition to whatever these players are able to offer on the field, that’s a huge benefit for at least two reasons.First, for the first time in a long time, the Packers truly be able to take the best player available. They’ve mostly filled their biggest holes already. Smiths Za’Darius and Preston are at least capable starters and Adrian Amos is the best safety the Packers have had since before Ha Ha Clinton-Dix started to coast. The Packers won’t be obligated to address either position early in the draft, and if they do, it’ll be because they think the player they’re selecting is truly the best player they can get at that point.Second, no matter who the Packers select, they won’t be counted upon to be a starter-level contributor immediately. The Packers were somewhat lucky that Jaire Alexander was able to be the player he was as a rookie. Sure, first rounders should be good, but having to depend on them the way the Packers have is probably not the best practice. Even if the Packers do take an edge rusher now, he’ll be able to have a more typical rookie development curve.Bob Fitch: Unexpected pleasant shockConsider me, alongside Paul, a big time Ted Thompson guy. Draft and Develop is paramount to a franchise’s success, and for a long time, Green Bay was able to do just that. As Ted’s tenure came to a close, however, it was clear there was a need for a change in strategy. Drafts hadn’t panned out well Antonio Morrison Jersey , and the coaching staff didn’t seem to get enough out of those draft picks.Last year’s FA class under Gutekunst showed a glimpse of his strategy, but it’s Year 2 that has got me more excited for the future. There are two keys to the recent signings in my eyes; first, nobody over 30 was signed. Athletes age badly, particularly ones that spend so much time colliding with one another, so it was nice to see younger free agents sign. Secondly, two positions of need were immediately filled (well, half filled with regards to the safety spot), which alleviates pressure to draft for need in the upcoming draft. I’m not too happy about the Turner signing, but the cost wasn’t exorbitant and his play is at least trending in the right direction, so the impact is minimal.I shouldn’t have been that shocked, I guess, but coming from a decade of not spending in free agency has got me excited for March again.Mike Vieth - Extremely EncouragingAs we all waited (patiently I’m sure) through day one of free agency to see what path Brian Gutekunst would take the Packers this year we saw a good portion of the top free agents sign with other teams. My initial reaction to the lack of signings on day one was “fantastic.” The money that was getting thrown around to the guys at the top of the mountain was ridiculous. The Packers had just under $35 million to play with and making a huge splurge or two right away could have wiped us out quickly. Then day two came. I was at the gym and my phone just started going crazy. First, Za’Darius Smith, then Adrian Amos, Preston Smith, and finally Billy Turner. The initial response was “Wow!” the Packers just filled in some major holes that needed to be filled. The one part that worried me was the contracts that it took to lock up those players. Needless to say, when those were reported I felt even better about everything. The one thing that I probably loved seeing the most was the patience the Packers took in signing the four players. Russ Ball and Gutekunst had to work some magic in getting the contracts just right. The four players only count for $23.6 million against the cap this year and that gives the flexibility to try and resign Bashaud Breeland, Ibraheim Campbell and tender restricted free agents Geronimo Allison and Kentrell Brice. Some might have a problem with the overall money to each player but they went for what the market was going for. Adrian Amos is probably my favorite signing of the group and he is going to get paid like he should have. Landon Collins, Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu were the top players available and they average about $14 million per year and Amos is in the second tier and getting on average $9 million per year. That’s perfect. The Smiths will both have contracts in the top ten overall for outside linebackers. That fits what the market for outside linebackers are at and the big benefit is that both are hitting the prime of their careers. These signings could be a bargain if they play like prime time players. The biggest question for me was Billy Turner. I think he’s the biggest gamble of the four but I’m encouraged that he has had better overall production at the guard spot in the past few years. Hopefully, having a solid starting spot will take his game to the next level.

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