All you scrawny 130-pounders out there who thought you never had a shot at playing football for the Green Bay Packers: fear not, the game is all mental.
In a fascinating recent piece by Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel, a bright light is shined on the role of Mike Eayrs, Green Bay’s very own, in-house secret weapon. His primary function for the team, apparently, is seeking out new and innovative ways to strengthen them mentally, motivate them and ensure the type of winning mindset that has propelled the squad to an 11-0 start. That’s not to say his other role, director of R&D isn’t important, it just means that he wasn’t getting articles written about him when R&D was his sole responsibility.
Of course, the notion of giving players a mental advantage is about as vague as you can get. Specifically, Eayrs utilizes his stats-oriented position to find little details and information that, in turn, nudges the players’ minds into the direction they should be going in.
"He'll say this crew has more pass interference calls than any in the league, so don't be as physical," backup quarterback Graham Harrell told Nickel. "Or this team calls more holding calls - so let's try to play clean up front. Or this team calls more fourth-quarter penalties.
"Guys really do listen and take it to heart. It might kind of give us a slight advantage."
Among Eayrs’ favorite mental toughening tools are 15-second mental vacations, borrowing tricks from the Army (“"It was all about how to prepare and to maximize your performance in the cold weather,”), recalling old Sesame Street adages and keeping things light with jokes.
He’s a Jack of All Trades ready to dispense knowledge that you wouldn’t expect a football team to have at a second’s notice. And yet, the Packers are 11-0 – so maybe football teams should know this stuff.
In a season where Green Bay is doing everything against the grain, carrying on a seemingly historic run all the while dancing to the beat of their own drum, does this really surprise you?
Didn’t think so.