Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Healing Broken Packer Hearts

Among Packer fans, there’s a lot of hurt, anger, sadness and even depression about the departure of #4, and the way the team handled it. I don’t want to take the time to rehash the whole saga, for one thing the subject has been covered adequately by much more eloquent sportswriters than I:


What I found especially disappointing was how Packer fans turned on each other in the forums and chat rooms. If you didn’t “get with the program” and “move on” you somehow weren’t a true Packer fan, you were, these people said, often with profanity laced tirades or personal insults, “a Favre fan.”

As if that were something bad.

Well, I’m a Favre fan, then. I tend to root for individuals, not for institutions. A stadium is just steel and concrete. The people who serve in a management capacity at NFL teams come and go, and some are quickly forgotten. What matters are the players: they're the ones who through supreme effort, sweat, blood and sacrifice bring us football glory. I remember when I was kid and the Packers fired Bart Starr as coach, right at the time he was starting to be a good coach, I totally lost interest in their games for a number of years. Bart was one of the greatest Packer players in history. I thought he should have been treated better than that. He had assembled a team that had lots of upside potential. After he was let go, they had to go through several complete, miserable, iterations of rebuilding before Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren—and Brett Favre--were able to turn the team into a winner.

So, I think it is perfectly reasonable to be angry that Brett Favre is no longer with the team. The question is, what to do now? How to heal up and enjoy football again. Here are a few ideas:

Don’t be angry with the Packer players, especially Aaron Rodgers. I think it’s really poor sportsmanship to boo the players in practice or at the games. They have no say in personnel decisions. Truth be told, each of them knows they could be the next one shipped out in a trade or an outright release. And I imagine if they did get to vote on the issue, they would have nearly unanimously said to keep both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.

This continues in the blog post that follows...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Healing Broken Packer Hearts Part II

Radical Idea: Root for the New York Jets. I’ve visited the Jets website and they are quite welcoming to Packer fans. Numerous fans have already posted that they will be Jets fans this season, and are now “former” Packer fans. The Jets seem to have lots of good players, and their fan base in obviously energized. It could be quite exciting to watch Brett guide a team that was 4-12 last year to a 10-6 record or better this year.

And guys will be pleased to know the Jets just hired the lovely Jenn Sterger to be the host of their Gameday broadcasts. Not sure exactly what her NFL experience is, but she’s bound to be more interesting than some of the guys on the broadcast networks.

Take a Season Off. Time heals all wounds. Instead of watching the games and getting mad, just do something else on Sundays. Sure, check the scores or watch the highlights, but you don’t have to plan the whole day around the Packers’ game. Since they’ve been around for 90 years, they’ll most likely be around next year, too.

Pick a new team to watch. Most of us have more than one team that interests us. I’ve always liked the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, for example. They both have good teams this year, and I thought I’d watch some of their games. That way, we don’t have to be worried about how either Brett or Aaron perform.

Stay away from Internet forums. Nothing can be gained by engaging in arguments with nasty people who hide behind their screen names. You don’t have to justify your opinion that the Packers did the wrong thing in sending Brett to another team. In time, we will know who was right. I went ahead and deleted all the forums from the bookmarks on my computer.

Root for both the Packers and the Jets to succeed. Just think, if both teams win ten games this season, you have the opportunity to be happy 20 times! That means you’ll be even happier than Patriots fans, if you can imagine that.

Friday, August 08, 2008

God Bless the Jets

…for making Brett Favre and his millions of fans happy. At my house, and in many others no doubt, we went into a protracted period of mourning when he announced his retirement in March. It just seemed strange that he would leave after such a successful season both on a personal and a team level. Without jumping into the acrimonious debate of whether he was forced out by Packers’ management, the fact is that when he arrived in New York to such a warm welcome from the team, the fans—and even the Mayor—it made me feel really, really good. I think he can have two extremely productive seasons for the Jets, and perhaps even three. Jets fans are hungry for victory, their team owner committed the necessary funds to bring in talented free agents, and they were better talent-wise than their record would indicate in 2007. All these factors bode well.

And Brett richly deserves whatever remaining success he can summon out of that amazing right arm of his. Besides his athletic skill he will bring to the Jets something that I haven’t heard the news media talk much about: his incredible will to win, or perhaps refusal to lose. He causes the players around him to perform much better than they would if he weren’t there. He’s repeatedly been able to turn mediocre receivers into 1000-yard season all-stars, so he’s way ahead of the game in New York because they have excellent receivers. Without his sterling play at quarterback last year, the Packers would have been hard pressed to finish 8-8. Without his vigorous leadership in the playoff game vs. Seattle, after the Packers fell two touchdowns behind in the first quarter, they probably would have lost, instead of roaring back to score 42 points.

Those are the facts, and as President Reagan used to say, “Facts are stubborn things.”

What struck me when I watched the various media events surrounding his arrival in New York was how happy he looked. To be playing again. To be at a franchise that clearly wanted him.

The Jets play in San Diego in September, a short plane flight from where I live in Phoenix. I can’t express how grateful I am to be able to see him play in person one more time. It is an unexpected gift.

God Bless the Jets!