Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nobody Knows Anything

This pithy little axiom was coined by Academy Award winning screenwriter William Goldman to describe the motion picture business, where everyone runs around Beverly Hills claiming to know what the next mega-hit movie is going to be, when in fact no one has a clue.

But Mr. Goldman’s observation is equally useful for NFL football fans at this time of year, when seemingly everyone with a word processor publishes their predictions of how teams will finish in the standings. Some of these “experts” in the broadcast and print media are quite confident, even cocky, about their forecasts.

For the past several years, the Packers have not received very much respect from the national media. For Packer fans, reading some of the extremely negative views about the team can cause unpleasant side effects such as irritability at work, elevated blood pressure, and even stomach upset.

I would advise not spending any time whatsoever fretting about what the scribblers and the chatterers in the media think about the Packers. A better strategy is to read their predictions and poke fun at them. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Here’s an example: ESPN recently placed Green Bay in lowly 24th place in their 2007 preseason Power Rankings behind powerhouses like the Giants, Redskins, Dolphins and yes, Cardinals.

Remarkably, ESPN says their Power Rankings were the combined effort of seven journalists. Did you know at ESPN they have a special committee of four seasoned broadcasters they call upon when a light bulb needs changing in the studio?

You see, Packer Nation (i.e. The United States), there’s really no need to let these people get to you, because THEY HAVE NO CLUE.

And this bold statement is easy to prove by just going back one year and looking at what they predicted for the 2006 Green Bay Packers. Let’s start with a widely read preseason magazine, Lindy’s Pro Football. On page 101, editor Howard Balzer gazes into his crystal ball-zer and comes out with some very curious predictions.

At least they are honest enough to subtitle their Prediction page “Another Chance to Look Foolish.” Here were Lindy’s predictions for the NFC North in 2006, along with Mr. Balzer’s comments:

(First Place) Chicago – If Rex Grossman stays healthy, this could be a special team.

(Second) Minnesota – Brad Johnson brings stability to a team that needs a hug.

(Third) Detroit - Can Mike Martz work wonders with Jon Kitna and Josh McCown?

(Fourth) Green Bay – It won’t be long until Brett Favre wishes he retired.

And now, for comparison purposes, let’s recall what really happened:

(First) Chicago – With a defense as awesome as the Bears’, who cares if Rex Grossman stays healthy?

(Second) Green Bay – By the end of last season, the rest of the league wished Brett Favre had retired, especially after he ruined the Bears’ New Year’s Eve party.

(Third) Minnesota – Brad Johnson was adding tremendous stability to the bench by the end of the season.

(Fourth) Detroit - The “wonder” was the admirable loyalty of the Lions fans who kept showing up for the games during a dismal 3-13 season.

For something even more irritating than the predictions in Lindy’s, let’s visit, where a lad name Adam Schein said this was how the NFC North would look in 2006:

“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. Those are some really putrid predictions. He was in effect saying the Packers would be just about the worst team in the league. I especially enjoyed his lucid analysis: “Or something like that.” These guys should at least include a caveat that their predictions have a margin of error of + or – five games.

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