Where do I begin? It has been many, many years since I have been this devastated after a football game. Possibly since 2003 when the Packers lost to the Eagles in the playoffs...also by a field goal in overtime. However, the knife dug in much deeper this year as the unthinkable took place last night. Mr. Eli "whiner" Manning and the little Giants ripped the Super Bowl right out of the hearts of the Packers community. The players, the coaches, the staff, the Green Bay residents, the fans in Wisconsin, the Favre fans everywhere, the Packer fans all over the country, and especially the die-hard fans in a warm & cozy house in Saginaw, TX. A loss hurts, but an overtime loss in the playoffs is just so much more devastating. Particularly when it occurs courtesy of a team who shouldn't have even been in the championship game. The football life has literally been sucked out of me. I really don't think I can even watch the Super Bowl this year. As much as I hate the Patriots and want them to lose (they certainly could have to Green Bay), I don't want a team like the Giants to even have the opportunity to win or lose. There's no doubt they will get slaughtered by the Patriots, so now we have a wasted Super Bowl between two teams in which only one is deserving to be there. I know I'm spilling bad grapes, but there is some truth to it. I am so devastated.
A few things became clear to me in this time of darkness. I'll admit I've felt somewhat guilty the last few years as the realization has hit me that I'm a bigger Green Bay fan than my good ol' home team Dallas Cowboys. But last week, when the Cowboys lost to the Giants in a very close playoff game, I could care less. I really felt like it served them right for being a bunch of jerkoffs the last 6-8 weeks. I do not want to hash on the Cowboys, because I will always watch them and support them (unless they play the Packers), but the biggest epiphany I've had in the last 24 hours is that they just don't have an identity. Jerry Jones is an idiot and cares way too much about money and not enough about building a solid franchise with people of high integrity and work ethic. I can't even keep up with who is coaching them year after year much less who plays at each position and I even watch the games. There's no reason to be a proud Cowboy fan other than the HOPE of a successful Tony Romo. There's a few other good guys like Marion Barber and Jason Witten, but where is the TEAM? Anyway, this blog is not about the Dallas Cowboys. I just think that the final ounce of hesitation in coming out and admitting that I am 100% a Green Bay Packer fan was removed this weekend. Talk about identity. Green Bay has it. You will not find a more committed and dedicated fan base in the NFL than the Packer fans. Even the team is such a close-knit group of professionals. You never see them in the news for getting in trouble anywhere. But you do see EVERYONE building each other up, even after making mistakes in a game. The coach and the GM and the players and the position coaches are all on the same page. They're the oldest team in NFL history who still resides in their original town, and their ownership's legal documents stipulate that the proceeds of the sale of the franchise would go to a specific charity, so it will never be in anyone's best interest to want to send the team anywhere else in the country. The Green Bay Packers have always been and will always be in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Right there with the spirit of Vince Lombardi and Ray Nitschke and Paul Hornung and Reggie White and Bart Starr and Brett Favre. Talk about history. Wow. That spirit is real too. I felt it when I first stepped foot into the atrium of Lambeau Field and it brought me to tears. There is a presence that resides in Green Bay and in Lambeau Field that will make any unbeliever think that maybe there really are football gods. But despite this rich history and unity of past, present, and future, the games still have to be played. And sometimes, like last night at a bitter cold (-25 to -35 wind chills) January playoff game in Lambeau Field, even with Brett Favre, the football gods allow fate to take its course. Who knows why the Giants had to win that game. Surely it wasn't a cruel joke from Vince Lombardi who once coached with Tom Landry in New York! HA! No, but there is a place and a purpose for last night's loss that is just as much a part of Packers history now as all 12 of their Super Bowl and pre-NFL-merger championship wins. And that is why I can proudly hold my head up high and voice that even though I do not live in Green Bay, Wisconsin, my heart is with the Green Bay Packers. And I am proud to show my colors even the day after a devastating NFC Championship loss to a team who almost didn't make the wildcard round. If this year is for the Giants or Patriots, then so be it. Because my Green Bay Packers are not going anywhere. As cliche as that sounds, the Packers will remain at Lambeau Field and continue to be the example of a true NFL team and will be ready for next year with or without Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers proved against the Cowboys he is a capable quarterback. However, I don't think Favre can walk away just yet. He'll be back to claim next year's Super Bowl title with the rest of his team, his coaches, his GM, his owners (who happen to be the community of Green Bay, Wisconsin), and his unwavering fans, who all make up one cohesive unit. The fans will still line up next year for the opportunity to sweep snow off of the seats and field before their games. The streets of Green Bay will be completely bare during all of the home games. Fans from all over the country will travel to Green Bay every single home game to experience the incredible feeling of being at Lambeau Field and truly feeling the unbelievable presence of history and tradition.
However, despite my unwavering support, it will take time to heal from this devastating loss. But I have to admit...Caleb made a little headway in that department late last night. I was tucking him in to bed and telling him about the game. He's too young to understand, but he will learn about this game when he is older and I want to be able to tell him that I told him all about it that night. I was amazed at how captivated he was. He listened to me with an unusual amount of sincerity, as he normally will laugh or do something silly to make me laugh. I think he sensed the weight of the conversation. He did say Brett Favre and football a few times, but he took me seriously. It was funny. When I speculated with him over Brett Favre's return next year, he said "Brett Favre no home". Impressed with his statement, I asked "Will Brett Favre go home next year or will he win the Super Bowl?" Know what his response was? "Brett Favre. Super Bowl." I LOVE IT!!!!!!!
I think we'll have to make another trip up to Green Bay next fall.