Monday, February 7, 2011

What the Packers' Super Bowl XLV Victory Meant to Me

As I sit alone in my bedroom watching the same SportsCenter for the 2nd time since the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, I want to share my thoughts on the victory and what it means to me.

I should probably start with the second most painful memory I have of the Packers. 4th and 26. Enough said really. I was set-up to have my dreams come true. As a season ticket holder, my dad won the lottery for Super Bowl tickets. If the Packers went so would I. And the Packers were playing well. And then my heart was ripped out over the course of a weekend. In the span of 3 days, the Packers lost a heartbreaker and I was fired from Home Depot for among other things, playing a teeny tiny practical joke on a one-time great friend. For years I wanted to blame Nick Barnett and Darren Sharper for the blown coverage, but really it was Brett Favre throwing the prayer duck in overtime that killed us. After the game, I got drunk. Super drunk. Like the kind you warn your kids about. And then I drove home. I’m not proud. I was young, stupid and pissed. And did I mention I was drunk. 4th and 26 – the game that took the shine off of my Brett Favre idolatry.

That’s enough for that heartbreak. Let’s move on to the draft. I vividly remember the 2005 NFL Draft. I was watching it in my parents’ living room. I sat in agony watching Aaron Rodgers slip and slip and slip. And then the Packers were on the clock. When they announced that the Packers stopped the slide and selected Aaron Rodgers, I was ecstatic. I actually ran outside to tell my dad the good news. I wish I could honestly say I knew what the future held, but I didn’t. I was just happy that a quarterback some “experts” had going number one overall fell into the Packers laps.

(Blog intermission…I hate Trent Dilfer. He better call Ray Lewis every week and thank him for winning him a Super Bowl ring. Anyone that says that to be a great quarterback, one needs to win a Super Bowl ring should look no further than Dilfer. He proves that even the sun occasionally shines on a dog’s ass.)

Okay, let’s fast forward to the 2007 NFC Championship game against the Giants. The absolute worst I ever felt as a Packer fan. I must admit how utterly crushed I was after the game. I sat in the stands at Lambeau for awhile after the game ended. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I was too stunned to move. I wanted to punch a douchebag Giants fan taunting the Packers, but I couldn’t. I was too stunned to move. It didn’t feel real. It destroyed me. I became a social pariah. I didn't watch a Super Bowl again until XLV. The reason it hurt so bad was because I bought the hype. I really thought the Lombardi trophy was coming home.

And then the drama took over. Brett Favre retired at a teary press conference. I cried with him. That was years and years of memories riding off into the sunset. Then Brett Favre returned. But Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy wouldn’t have any of that. They were prepared to move forward without Brett and handed the keys to the franchise to Aaron Rodgers. I took a lot of crap for defending Ted Thompson. People were upset that their childhood idol was cast aside. But I’m a Packer fan first. I cheer for the uniform. And Brett Favre put himself above the Packers. I’m not going to deny that I enjoyed the 2010 Viking season. Although, to see a shadow of the man I cheered for many years was sad. Then again, I saw “more” of Brett Favre in 2010 than I needed to.

(Blog intermission #2…To all you Ted Thompson haters, fuck you. You know who you are. Of course, you’re back on the bandwagon. But I still know who you are and like an elephant, I will never forget. Like a boyfriend to a cheating girlfriend, I know what you did. You should be ashamed of yourself. No one is bigger than the franchise. Not even one of the greatest ever to put on the green and gold. It’s okay to question the direction of the franchise. It’s not okay, and downright disrespectful, to blindly hate someone for getting rid of an idol. “Knock, knock, Ted Thompson haters.” “Who’s there?” “A return to Titletown celebration and you’re not invited.”)

That faith in Aaron Rodgers paid off in 2010. For six straight games, it was sudden death for the Green Bay Packers. After the Packers knocked the Bears out of the play-offs to clinch a Super Bowl berth …wait…I need to say that again since it’s so satisfying. After the Packers knocked the Bears out of the play-offs to clinch a Super Bowl berth, I tried to temper my excitement. But it was hard because Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson and Mike McCarthy led the Packers back to the Super Bowl. I tried not to live too vicariously through the Packers success. I couldn't take another soul crushing loss. Once again my dreams were racing with thoughts of a Super Bowl victory, a Titletown celebration and year long bragging rights. This time? The Packers didn’t disappoint. I have to admit that for a mere moment I had doubts when I saw Charles Woodson in sweats and his arm in a sling. I thought “Here we go again.” But the defense made just enough stops and the offense scored just enough points to allow Coach McCarthy to be doused in Gatorade and the players to be covered in confetti.

It was a special moment to see everyone’s hard work pay off.

At the Super Bowl party I was at, the victory was a bit subdued. We were all glad the Packers held on. I noticed that on the Super Bowl trophy stand that Ted Thompson was not showing much emotion. One of my friends said that was because Ted was already plotting his next move. He’s probably right too. Today was the end to 2010, but tomorrow is the beginning of 2011. It’s back to the grind for the GM that brought the Lombardi Trophy back home. The significance of the trophy coming home had not sunken in yet. It still hasn’t. Once everything clicks, the feeling will be glorious. As I headed home from the party, I drove in my truck stunned. Stunned at the victory. Stunned at the brilliance of Lil Wayne’s “Green & Yellow.” Stunned that Lil Wayne was actually a Packer fan.

On the way home, I had to stop by my sister and brother -in-law’s house. Ed, my brother-in-law, has been by my side for most of the greatest Packer moments I’ve experienced. There have been many high-fives exchanged in section 130, row 10 of Lambeau Field. As he opened the door, we high-fived. No words were spoken. No words needed to be spoken. I drove up, got out, high-fived and drove home. It was a special moment.

As I got home to wind down, I walked into my parents’ living room and my dad was watching the postgame shows. I gave him the Aaron Rodgers’ title belt celebration. We both laughed. We knew the victory was special. And nothing beats a quick laugh to add a touch of levity to moment we’ll both cherish for the rest of our lives.

And that brings me back to the here and now – sitting here watching ESPN at 3 am trying to keep the moment alive for as long as I can. I wish my life contained more of these moments. And it will. I just need to be patient. But today, I can cherish the fact that we (yes, WE) are Super Bowl Champions.

And I love the Green Bay Packers. Through the wins, the losses, the blow-outs and the nail-biters, I love the Green Bay Packers. I have always loved them and I will always love them. They are my team. They are our team. Thank you, Green Bay Packers, for the memories, the smiles, the tears, the screams, the excitement and the championships.

I love the Green Bay Packers.

We are champions again.

And, of course…the Bears still suck.

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