The picture says it all, doesn't it? A few weeks ago the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV, bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to where it belongs - my home state of Wisconsin.
I felt a special affinity for this year's team. The win back in SuperBowl XXXI was grand, a welcome return to glory after thirty years of mediocrity. Yet this championship was more than a mere sports victory. It was the culmination - the definitive 'The End' - to years of Favre induced agony. I am old enough to know that the good guys don't always win, and that sometimes even the right decisions turn out poorly. For three years the right/wrong of the Favre fiasco has been up in the air. So it was a relief to me - and I'm sure, to Ted Thompson, Aaron Rodgers, and much of the Packers nation - to finally have proof that yes, we did what needed to be done with Favre, and yes, it was the right call. Speaking just for myself, it feels like a literal weight has been removed from my shoulders.
I'm also happy for two more reasons: One, I asked off for the SuperBowl long before it was even a certainty that the Packers would make the playoffs, and Two: I had the opportunity to contribute, in my small way, to the historical record of this Championship. The following column was published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in the lead-up to the game (by the way, I detest the headline. That was soley the creation of the editor):
Why Pack's success means so much
Here's something you won't hear every day from a Wisconsin native and self-professed Green Bay Packers fan: A lot of the insults other NFL fans toss at us? They're true.
Put otherwise reasonable Wisconsinites within sight of anything green and gold, and they lose their ability to reason and act rationally. Guess what art project my kids did in school this week. Did they paint a still life? Sculpt? Discuss art theory and history?
No. They made their own cheeseheads. Say that aloud, and just try not to wince with embarrassment. They had to make their own cheeseheads in school.
So I can understand why some people are annoyed with the ever-present Packers coverage as we approach Super Bowl XLV. I can empathize with the friends on Facebook who complain that our priorities are skewed, and I am tolerant of the people at the water cooler who - in hushed tones, lest they be discovered and ostracized - say they don't see what all the fuss is about.
I can empathize with these people and I can tolerate their views, but I cannot agree.
I don't care whether you've watched every down or never seen a game - whether you live and breathe sports or view it as no better than an ancient city, states sending out their armies to settle grudges. Either way, acknowledge this fact: For one day, the Packers will have the attention of the largest audience imaginable, and for many of those viewers, Wisconsin and the Pack are one and the same.
If Grandpa Joe hates abstract art, but an exhibit brings that much attention to Wisconsin, I expect him to brush up on Jackson Pollack and put a smile on his face. We should expect no less for the Pack.
(And, honestly, the anti-football crowd should rejoice. This season should - cross our fingers - finally put the kibosh on the lingering Brett Favre-Ted Thompson-Aaron Rodgers triangle that's dominated the past few years. It's over folks. Time to move on.)
Besides, you never know when it will happen again. I was 22 when the Packers won their first championship of my lifetime. Now, as I near 40, decades pass in the blink of an eye, but back then I remember comparing the wait to an eternity in limbo (there's that rationality clause again).
Even worse: Both my grandfathers were within shouting distance of my age when Vince Lombardi walked away from Green Bay. I'm sure, even in the worst-case scenario they could imagine, they didn't think they'd pass away as old men without ever seeing another Green Bay team crowned as champions. I hope I have better luck, but just in case the drought is even longer this time around, I keep telling my kids to soak it all in and appreciate the moment.
Here's hoping they also get to appreciate a Super Bowl win on Feb. 6.
One more thing: I love Rodgers, but Nick Collins [INT for a TD] should have gotten the MVP trophy. I'm just sayin'