Monday, August 31, 2009

Go "All In" on 2009 Packers' Season

Over at ACME Packing Company, Mitchell writes an impassioned plea for Packer fans to curb their enthusiasm. He cites some holes in the roster (Crosby, Hawk, Johnson) and lays out the rather logical argument that the preseason is historically not a precursor for success in a season, despite all the positives we've seen so far from the Green Bay Packers.

And, in many ways, he's totally right. The competition hasn't been top-notch, preseason football is more about internal struggles rather than trying to win football games, and quite simply, it's a long season and there are a ton of things that can go right or wrong between now and the end of it all.

So, it is logical to take the three-game preseason win streak with a grain of salt. Hedge our bets. Keep a sensible, realistic view of the situation.

And, I'm here to tell what?

Since when has football been a sport based on logic and rational thought? Heck, if being a realist and wanting to see more proof of success in the regular season is what you want, more power to you. That's very logical and intelligent of you.

But, come on. This sport isn't based on logic. It's based on passion. That's what being a fan is all about. We ignore facts and logic all the time when it comes to this game. Why? Because it's the Green Bay Packers. And, it's about time we start acting like fans again.

In my time writing about the Packers, I've had the pleasure of meeting some of the brightest Packer fans there are. I've seen laymen no more accredited than myself break down the zone blocking scheme in minute detail. I've had Packer fans present me with pages and pages of statistical evidence designed to prove their hypothesis correct, whatever that hypothesis might be. I've seen folks draw up historical trends dating back years to compare a present day GM, QB, or coach to a distant measuring stick. Very, very heady stuff.

But, this game wasn't designed to be understood only by college graduates. It's designed for Everyman, guys who paint their faces and paint their cars and build shrines to the team in their homes.

And, you know what? When it is fourth and one yard to go in the fourth quarter, down by five points, guess where all that logic goes? Personally, I have no idea, because I am too busy standing on my couch screaming at the television. And any self-respecting Packer fan is doing the same thing, wherever they are.

A three-game preseason winning streak? You know what? Go for it. Get on board the bandwagon with both feet and grab the reins. Make hotel reservations in Miami for February 7th. Heck, you can probably cancel it, if you have to, with little penalty.

Buy in to this team, their quarterback, their leaders, their offense, and their defense. Figure that the Cardinals are probably as strong of a team that the Packers will face on their regular season schedule, and the Packers have a legitimate shot to be in every single game. Get excited.

Seriously. Let's get excited. We deserve it.

I'll admit that I am probably am usually one of the more critical voices when it comes to the Packers. But, I'm ready to take my optimism to the next level. How about you?

Go in your closet and pull out that old Favre and KGB jerseys and donate them to Goodwill. Head down to the Packer Pro Shop and get your new red Aaron Rodgers jersey or your new green BJ Raji jersey. Consider spending $300 a seat for scalped tickets, go to the game, and scream your head off until the final gun. Even if they lose. Make Lambeau Field the home field advantage it once was again.

Don't have money in today's economy to put towards jerseys or trips to the Mecca? Then call your friends over for each game, move the couch ten feet from the television and drink your favorite beverages with your fellow fans. Passionately explain why that zone blitz failed to work while your friends roll their eyes at you and grab another beer. Forget what you were talking about mid-sentence as Charles Woodson forces another fumble.

But, most of all...believe.

This is football. It isn't your marriage, your career, your health insurance, or your 401(k). In the end, football is a simple diversion of passion, something we don't have to hedge our bets on or play conservative with the market. It's an escape when those real things in our lives may not be going as well as we would like, and something we can grab onto and believe in.

And the 2009 version of the Green Bay Packers is looking like something we can grab by the horns and hang on tight to. Why not?

You know what? We might be disappointed in the end. In fact, chances are pretty high that the Packers will not be playing in the 19th game of the season, much less win it.

So what? That's why they erase the W-L records and start over every season. But, the 2009 version of the Packers appear ready to achieve something, perhaps even something special. And, just like back in the early 1990's, there comes a time where we, as fans, have to come together and believe that this team is going somewhere, even if it doesn't make sense. Those players feed off of our passion. It only makes sense: if they believe, we believe. And if we believe, they believe.

And it's time. The past five years have likely been the most divisive of any five-year span in the 90-year history of the Green Bay Packers. We've had fans taking sides on almost every issue, from trying to prove Brett Favre as hero or goat in the 2005 season, to Sherman versus McCarthy, to dissecting every Ted Thompson draft pick and (lack of) free agent moves, to Favre vs. Rodgers and Favre vs. Thompson. All small micromanaged postulates backed up by formulated rationale and statistics, punctuated with insults at our fellow fans.

We've spent more time fighting with each other than standing with each other. And, it is time to get behind this young team and put an end to it. Period.

So, go ahead. Be irrational. If it is your cup of tea, ignore logic and facts and statistics and those people who try to turn this game into thesis statements or fantasy football. Stand together with your fellow Packer fans and start imagining names like Rodgers, Jennings, and Woodson becoming as legendary as Starr, Hornung, and Nitchske, or Favre, White, and Butler. Could there be a player on the field today that will have a street named after them? A number retired by the Packers?

Imagine trophy number four.

Guaranteed, we'll have at least one game that will be such an exhilarating victory that you will hug that brother-in-law you've vowed never to talk to again. And, there will be at least one game that will be such a disappointing loss that you'll want to vow never to watch another game. Happens every season.

Hey, if you want to hedge your bets and wait, that's totally fine. Just don't spend time telling the rest of us that "you told us so" later on, with your pages of statistics and historical trend charts. If folks want to believe this is a special team with unlimited potential, regardless of the logic that refutes it, that's their right, too.

There's been discussion lately as to what a "true Packer fan" really is. In my opinion, a True Packer Fan stands not only behind their team, but stands alongside each other, passionately cheering for one goal...their team to win.

So hop on board the Packer Express. As a certain coach once said, "the train has left the station". We have no idea where the tracks will lead us, but as another coach once said, "the journey is its own reward."


Franklin Hillside said...

On board, C.D. I don't care about tempering expectations. If you can't get excited for Packer football, preseason wins or no, don't sit next to me on the "Express". I've had my ticket and seat assignment for too long to have to sit and listen to naysayers prattle on. Bring on the Bears....Hi-YO!

Anonymous said...

Well, TT's train may have left the station, but it has an awful habit of derailing shortly out of the station.

I hope the Packers win every game, I always do. I'm excited that the season is starting so I can watch more Packers football. I just remain a little less optimistic because we still have Ted Thompson and that bring out the negativity in the best of us. The guy is an idiot and seems to have no idea how to build a consistent winning team. I also refuse to donate my Brett Favre jerseys as I still plan to wear them. That way, I can show that I still support Favre, although I refuse to cheer for the Viqueens team, and support the Packers as the only Favre jerseys I own are Packers jerseys.

The preseason has gotten me more excited about the regular season. However, the Lions had a great preseason last year and we all know where that led. Until we see the Packers line up against the Bears in the regular season, where both teams are giving their all to win, we really have no idea what we've got. Bring on the season and let's actually start getting the questions answered.

PackersRS said...

I'm on board since March. I've drunk the Kool-aid. "GET ON BOARD NOW OR KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!" That's what I have to say. See you in two weeks, mr. Cutler. By then, Barnett will have something to say to you, too.