Monday, September 11, 2006

Nobody Knows Anything

One of my all-time favorite contemporary writers is William Goldman. He has been vastly successful as a screenwriter, winning two Academy Awards for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men. But he has also written terrific novels, and two of the best non-fiction books about the screenwriting business. These latter two books have educated, inspired and influenced many aspiring screenwriters, myself included.

Mr. Goldman is credited with one of the most succinct and widely quoted statements about Hollywood, “Nobody Knows Anything.” Meaning, it’s wise to be skeptical when you encounter people who proclaim themselves “experts” about what makes a great screenplay, a great book—actually all literary activities.

Mr. Goldman’s axiom certainly applies to pro football as well. The scribes and TV chatterers who predicted gloom and doom for the Green Bay Packers are now, after the team’s weak performance against the Bears, no doubt congratulating themselves on their sagacity. They told us our team would be lousy, and those of us who disagreed with that notion should, these people believe, finally wise up and give up on our team.

Not going to happen, because it’s apparent that this new edition of the Green Bay Packers is infused with youth, speed and athleticism—ingredients that have been sorely lacking for at least four years. It’s the kind of team that can improve every week, and by the end of the season, be remembered as the group that had the will to begin the climb back up toward the top of the mountain—where they keep that trophy we all admire so much.

Packers Literary Corner believes it would be incredibly bad judgment to turn our backs on our team after Game #1.

I have a feeling there will be lots of drama and achievement before the season is done, something chronic naysayers always miss out on.

And as I recall from the early-to-mid 1990’s, as compared to the disappointment of the last four years, the upward climb can be full of thrills and surprises—and is a hell of a lot more fun.

That’s why Brett came back.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

And Finally The Season Is About to Begin…

The Packers Literary Corner is dedicated to recognizing excellence in print and broadcast football journalism.

After conducting exhaustive, statistically sound research for more than 20 years, involving sampling the opinions of countless hundreds of football fans in various states of intoxication in sports bars throughout the US, and spending thousands of hours reading and listening to everything I could find about the sport of pro football, I reached a startling--but inescapable--conclusion:


Unfortunately, a corollary conclusion from my research revealed that the people who are the most negative about the Packers tend to have seriously enfeebled minds.

Today we will present both kinds of writing to you:

KUDOS and CONGRATULATIONS GO TO a citizen/journalist named Felipe from New Canaan, Connecticut, as quoted in Peter King’s Internet column of Tuesday, September 5:

"I know the Packers did horribly last year and so expectations should be much lower. But I don't understand why we are counted out by every expert. We had the No. 7 defense last year and it improved during the offseason. We have our top two running backs back, which should lead to Brett Favre throwing less and making fewer interceptions.”

You can see the letter to Mr. King in full at:

This was fine, fine literary work.
--Polite. The writer could have begun with a personal attack such as, "Your predictions for the Packers suck." But, of course, Packer People don't behave that way. Instead, he graciously conferred the status of "expert" on Mr. King, to whom he sent the letter.

Now let’s turn our attention to a benighted lad named Adam Schein at, who attempted to write a column about predictions for the upcoming season. The attempt failed.

You can read it in its dismal entirety at:

Here’s what he predicted for the NFC North teams:

“NFC North
1. Bears 10-6
2. Lions 7-9
3. Vikings 7-9
4. Packers 3-13

Packers: I toyed with 2-14 for the Packers.
But I just like Greg Jennings and Abdul Hodge too much.
Or something like that.”


WOW. This is breathtaking in its absurdity. Packers Literary Corner has difficulty understanding how a sentient being could bring himself to publish something this foolish.

Then I noticed the picture of Mr. Schein at the top of the column. He appears to be about 12 years old. So this again shows why it can be dangerous to turn children loose on word processors.

He might take note that discerning readers generally demand more rigorous analysis than, “Or something like that,” to back up outlandish conclusions.

Luckily, writers generally gain wisdom and maturity as the years go by. To be fair, in 15 years or so we my take a look at Adam’s work again, to see if he has made progress toward lucidity. Based on his work quoted here, noticeable progress may take the full 15.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

In Praise of San Diego: My Favorite Road Game Experience

Obviously, no football experience can compare to watching the Green Bay Packers play at Lambeau Field, but I feel a moral obligation to support our team when it is playing on the road as well. This preseason, Packers Literary Corner attended a game on August 12 in San Diego. My decision to go to this game had nothing to do with the perfect weather, fabulous beaches, great restaurants and attractions like Sea World. I would have gone to Miami and watched a game as well. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made if you want to be known as a true-blue Packer backer.

When planning a trip to a road game venue, a certain amount of caution must be taken, because some of the opposing teams’ stadiums can be hostile toward visitors with foam rubber cheese as their signature fashion statement. It used to be great fun to attend a game at the resort and retirement community of Tampa Bay, for instance, and on several occasions Packer fans seemed to occupy at least half the seats in the stadium. Now, I have heard, the Buccaneers try to limit the number of tickets sold to Packer fans, and generally create a more hostile atmosphere for us should we go to a game there. And it can be quite unpleasant exiting the stadium in your Favre jersey and have hordes of cranky retirees spitting Dentu-crème and hurling epithets from the 1950’s at you.

Of course, after a few years on the job, the Buccaneers’ head coaches find that Tampa Bay is a hostile place for them as well. So I guess they treat everyone equally there.

Sometimes the problem is that road cities don’t seem to understand what it means to have thousands of Packer fans invade their town, all fired up about the game. One time I stayed in a hotel where Packer Fan Tours had booked most of the rooms. The hotel’s marketing department was not aware that Packer fans change into their game clothes immediately upon checking in—even if the game is two days away. In the hotel’s outdoor atrium, a large wedding was booked for that afternoon. One of the lasting memories the bride and groom have of the big event, preserved forever on video, is the sight of a small army of green jerseys and yellow cheese hats parading through their wedding on the way out the hotel.

Visiting San Diego is an entirely different matter. I can heartily endorse the experience of attending a Packers-Chargers game, even in the case of the preseason game I went to, a night game. (What I’m trying to politely say here is: NFL NIGHT GAMES USUSALLY = MANY, MANY OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS).

Perhaps it’s the Southern California tendency to be self-involved, but the Chargers fans didn’t seem to care Packer fans were there. They were actually, dare I say, NICE. I would say the Packer fan contingent numbered about 10% of the crowd that night. And since Packer fans are 10 times as enthusiastic as other fans, the decibel level of cheering ended up about even. Here are some highlights of my great weekend:

The Chargers management did their best to create an exciting, regular season feel to the game. For example, they charged us a robust regular season price of $79 per ticket for essentially about $12.50 worth of entertainment provided by mostly third-string players of both teams.

I did a rough count and discovered the Chargers have more cheerleaders than defensive players. They might want to consider flipping those numbers if they want stop the Denver Broncos’ offense. Unless they’ve discovered Jake Plummer has an unnatural fear of pom-poms.

There was an incredible patriotic display of America’s military might before the game including paratroopers being dropped from high above the stadium and landing on the field, one carrying an American flag. This gave Packers’ Head Coach Mike McCarthy the clever idea to ask if he could have a new offensive line parachuted in at half-time, but he found out it was against league rules.

The San Diego people are ever mindful, and protective of, the delicate marine environment of the Pacific Ocean. To keep environmentalism, and endangered species, in the forefront, they even changed the name of their stadium from Jack Murphy Stadium to qualcomm. I inquired and was told that qualcomm is the sound the protected California Golden Seal makes when it burps.

A marvelous trolley system, with clean, comfortable seats, shuttles fans right from the stadium gates all the way back into town. No nightmare of trying to exit the stadium and get onto the freeway, sitting in traffic for hours, getting lost and dangerously thirsty. From the time I left my stadium seat, it only took 20 minutes to get onto the trolley, travel to my hotel and find a seat in the bar. I believe that is a road game record.

Good job, San Diego! See you again soon.