Former Green Bay Packers running back Tony Fisher was Monday's guest on Clubhouse Live, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s live weekly football show.
Among the topics he touched on were the ability to give back, preseason football, Matt LaFleur and the Packers' offense. The show can be seen live at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill in downtown Appleton or at clubhouselive.com.
Here are select and edited answers from the interview:
Q: You currently work for the Packers as their player and alumni specialist, which seems right up your alley since you were a big community guy when you played. Why did you find it so important to get out and give back?
Fisher: I think it was always just seeing the impact, the power of a professional athlete. I was a big Michael Jordan fan, and I remember going to a Charles Oakley camp back when I was in the third grade. At the time, I think Oakley might have been playing with the (Chicago) Bulls or whatever the case may be. And he surprised us all with having Michael Jordan come there. I'm in the third grade. I'm what - 8, 9 years old? You see your idol, it's like 'Wow!' Nobody knew he was coming, but he was there. And just to see him in person was one of those things like if I ever had the opportunity to be able to give back like that, I most definitely would do it. And that's what I do all the time now is I go back home, I give back to the kids at my high school - like just a local community - and even up here (in Wisconsin). I'm always giving back to the community any time that I get.
Q: There seems to be a philosophical shift in how coaches approach playing time in the preseason today compared to when you were in the NFL. Do you agree with sitting key guys for preseason games? Does it make sense given the risk of injury in games that don't count for anything?
Fisher: I'm going to be honest. I kind of like the way that I grew up playing, where there were actual two-a-days in (training camp). You're hitting. But I know the thing is about putting out a great product and the safety of the game. But it was almost as if the contact and stuff that we went through during practice was what built us up going into the game. The game was pretty simple. We hit harder, we played harder in practice than what you did in the game almost. So your body was conditioned and ready for the pounding.
Q: What's your take on Packers head coach Matt LeFleur and the new regime? Do you like what you see so far?
Fisher: You have to. It's fresh air. (Former Packers) Coach (Mike) McCarthy is a wonderful man. He was around for 13 years. But sometimes, change is needed and Coach LeFleur is bringing in a new energy, a new juice. He has some younger coaches that are able to really communicate with our younger team. You have a younger team, you want to be able to communicate with them. And I think he's going to push (Aaron Rodgers) to the limits that 'A-Rod' hasn't been pushed yet. It's just funny. When I look at Coach LeFleur, we're the exact same age. (Chuckling) So it's just like - wow, just wait and see how much he's going to age in the next few years.
Q: What are your thoughts on the potential of the Packers' offense this season? We won't get a feel for that side of the ball until the regular season, but there seems to be some pieces in place to pile up yards and put up points.
Fisher: I think they're very underrated. Obviously, everyone wants to look at what can 'A-Rod' do. But it's not just about 'A-Rod.' As long as we have healthy surrounding pieces, I think our offense is going to surprise a lot of people this year. I think we'll get that running game going. We've got healthy tight ends. And those receivers, we know what Davante (Adams) is going to bring, but I also believe that Marquez (Valdes-Scantling) and 'G-Mo (Geronimo Allison) and some of those other younger ones with Jake (Kumerow), they're going to surprise a lot of people.