This week’s guest on the Thursday Q & A is Chris Lempesis from Ol’ Bag of Donuts .  Chris, along with Adam and Gene, do a simply great job with their little space on the Internet and are always a great read. In addition to getting Chris’s take on the Packers on general, we’ll also find out firsthand what it’s like for a Packers fan living in the enemy territory of Minnesota.

Ol’ Bag of Donuts, which I think is by far one of the most creative names for a Packers blog, is obviously named for former Packers Center Frankie Winters.  How did that come about?

Adam, Gene and I had the idea to start a Packers blog probably a month and a half before we got the site up-and-running (how’s THAT for a quick turnaround?). We tossed out a bunch of different names, but nothing seemed to resonate with us. “Dan Devine’s Dog” was an early front-runner. Dark? Yes, but sort of funny, too – at least to us. Then – and this is the God’s honest truth – Adam, myself and a friend of his were at an Indiana Pacers/Minnesota Timberwolves game one night (the tickets were free, keep in mind). After a couple of beers, the topic of the blog name came up again. Adam, in a moment of genius, turned to me and said simply, “How ’bout Ol’ Bag of Donuts?” I replied, “Wait – Frankie Winters’ nickname? Yeah – YEAH!” We then ran it by Gene and he absolutely loved it, as well. The rest is, as they say, history – or, at the very least, proof positive that good things can come out of Minnesota Timberwolves games.

How is it working with a ‘team’ of contributors?  Do you often have ‘staff meetings’ to make sure you don’t overlap in your content or isn’t it a real concern.

It’s awesome to have three of us running the site. Adam and Gene are really great writers and having three guys, instead of just one, means you get three unique viewpoints and three unique styles. That allows for a diversity of content which a lot of blogs simply don’t have. And, speaking personally, OBOD wouldn’t be half as fun as it is if those guys weren’t involved.

We’ve never really had staff meetings, per se. Starting the blog was a group effort, of course, but the only real “meeting” I can remember is Adam and I getting together to go over our draft coverage plans this year. As far as overlapping each other in content, that’s never really been an issue. We’re pretty good about keeping each other up-to-date on what we’re doing so we don’t have two guys writing, essentially, the same post at the same time.

One of the things I really like about your Blog is you have a couple of yearly series you do, currently with Friendly Fire.  Is it easier to write posts in a series or are the one-offs better?

The one-offs are certainly easier, because you can just write the post, give your thoughts and move on to the next thing. The series tend to be more difficult because of all the research you have to put in to them (especially with something like the All-time 53 man roster…man, that was a doozy to pull together). Ultimately, those are the most rewarding, though, because once you’ve finished, you really feel like you’ve covered the full scope of whatever that series is about, be it an all-time roster, our draft coverage or the Friendly Fire stuff.

I know you and Adam (not sure about Gene) reside in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, aka Minnesota. Besides bar time being an hour earlier, does it get a little rough for you guys come Football Season?

Gene doesn’t live in the Twin Cities anymore, so he’s been able to get away from it. But for Adam and I, it certainly can get rough at times. Some idiot cracked – probably by kicking it – Adam’s Packers tailgate cover while he was at work one day last season, for example. And once, while out with my brother for drinks during the summer of ’05, a big, fat Vikings fan screamed “(Expletive) you!” at me while I was wearing my Favre jersey (oh, the irony!). The thing that bothers me – and every other Packers fan in the Twin Cities – the most is that Vikings fans truly believe their team stands toe-to-toe with ours, in every aspect. Nevermind the fact that their team has won zero championships, couldn’t sell out games (playoffs included) until you-know-who got here and only has a stadium that’s loud because they artificially pump in noise. None of that matters to them and it simply baffles me. The trick is to just keep telling them over-and-over that the only score that really matters is 12-0. That shuts them up.

Last week in our Q & A with Greg Bedard, his responses in regards to the CBA & the 2011 NFL Season weren’t that hopeful.  What are your thoughts on those topics, which are really one in the same.

First, let me say that it’s freakin’ awesome to be following someone like Greg Bedard. I feel like A-Rodg following you-know-who (or, at the very least, Brian Griese following John Elway…okay, maybe Jay Fiedler following Dan Marino).

As for the 2011 season, I’d tend to agree with Bedard. Both sides are really digging in already and we’re still a year away from any sort of deadline. The players seem dead set on having the owners open their books so they can see for themselves what kinds of profits/losses the owners are experiencing. I can’t see the owners actually doing such a thing. This will be a major point of contention in an already contentious battle.

Plus, you have to factor this in: The NFL is not only as big as its ever been, in terms of popularity, but it seems to be growing by leaps and bounds every single year.That means that these negotiations mark a major historical moment – and a major crossroads – for the league and the NFLPA. Neither side will want to go down as the side who came out on the losing end of such a moment. Hence, we’re in for a prolonged battle. My guess is that we’ll see football in 2011, but a much-abridged version. A 10-12 game regular season with the regularly scheduled postseason sounds about right. I hope I’m wrong.

In recent Friendly Fire Training Camp pieces you mentioned the two most interesting & perhaps important battles will be between Bigby/Burnett & College/Spitz.  In those posts you gave the edge to Burnett & Spitz.  If you had to lay a million on one of those to be right, which pick of yours do you have the most confidence in?

This was a much tougher question to answer before we found out about Atari Bigby’s still-problematic ankle. With what we now know, I’d definitely lay my money on Burnett. I always figured it was just a matter of time before he took the starting job, anyways. Now I’m certain he’ll claim it before the end of camp.

Who is going to be the player in Training Camp that no one really knows right now but will be on the tip of everyone’s tongues come the season opener.

Sam Shields. The guy is lightning-fast and, if he can learn how to field punts/kickoffs, could bring a special element to the return game. He’s intriguing as a corner prospect, as well.

Call your shot, how far with the Packers go this year?

Wally, my man, I live my life by many well-worn philosophies. Two of the biggest are, “Go big or go home” and “Grip it and rip it.” So, in keeping with those philosophies, I’ll say this: Green Bay 27, Baltimore 20 in Super Bowl XLV. A-Rodg ghost-busts the Favre spectre in high style, winning the game’s MVP award. In a league that appears to be as wide-open as ever, why not us, right?

This may tie in with the above question, but if you had to pick one thing, just one, what excites you most about this upcoming Packers Season?

For the past few seasons, the Packers have consistently been the league’s youngest team. It seems like Ted Thompson is finally beginning to move past that philosophy and is now more interested in moving forward with the core that’s in place. So I’m incredibly excited to see this core group of youngsters take the next step in the growth process together. They’ve gone through the growing pains. Now it’s time to really establish themselves. If they do it like I think they can, this team’s going to be special for many years to come.

Time to share your wisdom, what advice would you give to sports bloggers (or bloggers in general) as it relates to starting or maintaining their blogs?

The idea that you need to have a clear vision of what you want your blog to be before you start it is extremely incorrect. Adam, Gene and I had no idea what our blog was going to be before we launched. All we knew was that we loved writing, loved the Packers and felt we all had something to say. The rest literally just worked itself out. I WOULD say you should feel like you have something to say, though. Don’t just start a blog because you think it’s cool.

As for maintaining one, just make sure you post every day (or, at least, every couple of days). Not only does that help you grow an audience, but for you, personally, it helps you to become more invested in what you’re doing. By having that happen, you will work harder and your posts will be better.

…and now for the lighting round.

Your all-time favorite Packers player is:

LeRoy Butler. In addition to being a great, great player, I had the opportunity to interview him while working for The Mining Journal (Marquette, Michigan) during the ’08 season. The man is a total gentleman and, obviously, extremely insightful.

Your favorite Packers blog to read that is not named Ol’ Bag of Donuts is:

Cheesehead TV , with Pocket Doppler being my second favorite. Not looking for brownie points there, either. It’s true.

If there were no Packers, you would have a blog about:

Hot chicks, man…I kid, I kid. I’d have a blog that would tackle totally random things, ranging from other sports (mainly hockey and baseball) to pop culture (I’m a big music/movies/TV guy) to my thoughts on daily life. I’m not sure anyone other than my friends and family would ever read such a blog, but I think that could help get me by in a non-Packers universe.

If you were a pro football player, your position would be:

As much as I’d love to say quarterback, I’m simply too overweight to say that with a straight face. I’d have to go with center, definitely following in the Frank Winters/Mike Flanagan mode. I’d survive on pizza and beer and would be the best quote on whatever team I was a part of.

Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a _____________ for taking the time to answer these questions.

If you had asked me that while I was in college, I would have answered with “Jager bomb.” Since I’m, you know, an adult now, I’ll simply say a beer. It doesn’t have to be a Sam Adams Summer Ale – you’d earn extra points if it was, though – but I’d rather it not be a Blatz, either. How ’bout a Miller Lite?

Thank you to Chris for being this week’s guest and if you don’t frequent Ol’ Bag of Donuts on a regular basis, you don’t know what you’re missing out so correct the situation right away.


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