By: Scott Poynting
Let me start by stating a little about myself. I live in Australia, I am 27 years old and I have been a die hard packers fan for ten years now. I first saw the Packers play when I was 13 in Super Bowl 31, it was the first game of American Football I ever watched.
The Packers were Green and Gold (Australian colours) so naturally I started cheering for them. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew I loved it! From then on I was a Packers “fan”. Every year I watched the Super Bowl as it was the only game we got in Australia, but apart from Super Bowl 32 I never saw the Packers play again.
Once I graduated from school I started following the Packers scores on the Internet, then I started downloading games and now between digital TV and NFL Gamepass I am able to watch every Packers game. For the past five or so years I have watched every Packers snap… usually getting up at 4am for the privilege. I have struggled through losing seasons, sat in confusion and dismay at moments like “4th and 26”, watched Favre throw away an NFC title, watch in dismay as my favourite Packer publicly fought with the organisation I love so much – then go out of his way to try and beat us and I have held my breath as the offense put up nearly half a century of points, only to lose… in the playoffs!
But this morning I did something I have never done, I cried during a Packers game… and not for a reason I ever thought I would.
I think it is safe to say that 2010 was the worst year of my life. A year that started out with so much promise and excitement quickly turned into one of depression and anxiety. In September 2009 I was married to my girlfriend of seven years. It was an amazing wedding followed by the honeymoon of a lifetime. 2010 was going to be my year, my first full year of being a husband, a new job and who knew, maybe even a baby on the way. However, in May my wife informed me she was leaving and moved in with a “friend” from her work. What has followed is several months of depression, anxiety and stupid choices. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t win her back, and the harder I tried the more depressed I got. Things were bad, I felt like I had nothing, except for one thing… the Green Bay Packers.
I threw myself into the 2010 season. I reactivated my twitter account which had sat unused for nearly a year (@ozcheesehead) and made many new friends who shared my love of the Green Bay Packers. I bought a laptop and hooked it up to my new TV so that I could watch all the Packers games in HD on my Plasma via NFL Gamepass and I ordered absurd amounts of Packer related merchandise… to the point where if I wanted to I could probably go a week or two without wearing anything non Packer related (which I did the week leading up to the season finale against the Bears)!
No matter how depressed or how sad I got I knew the Packers would not let me down… but they nearly did. I will admit it, mid-season I had all but given up on the Packers. The mounting injuries seemed to hard to overcome and with losses to the Redskins and Dolphins I figured any playoff hopes were dashed. But they came back for me and with two weeks to go I knew the Packers would win out and clinch a playoff spot.
Then came the playoffs… the moment I was so looking forward to, but also dreading so much. I had become so dependent on the Packers making me happy that the thought of the season ending scared me. I knew the Packers could beat the Eagles, but I wasn’t sure if they would, once they did I knew the Packers were good enough to make it to Dallas! I wasn’t afraid of the Falcons, I knew the only way the Packers would lose that Divisonal Game was by losing to the Green Bay Packers. What followed was by far my favourite game of the 2010 season… I was so happy! But in the back of my mind the what ifs started popping up… what if we didn’t beat the Bears?
I honestly started to get scared about the NFC Championship Game… I wasn’t ready for the Packers season to end… I wasn’t ready to find something else to make me happy. I once again threw everything into this game. Everyone… and I mean everyone who knows me knew about this game. They might not have known anything about the NFL… they might not have been able to tell me where the Bears came from… but they knew that the Bears still sucked and they all knew the “Go Pack Go” chant! The Packers had to win this game… they just had to!
And so I come to today. My alarm went off at 6am and I sleepily went downstairs and prepared myself for a long battle with the Bears. It didn’t take very long for my fears and worries to fade away though as the Packers took the early lead. I too like everyone else was annoyed that the Pack couldn’t put the Bears away, but I wasn’t worried… I laughed when Raji took his pick into the end zone and like so many other Monday mornings this year, life felt good. Then things started to change, the Bears were suddenly only down by a score and were driving towards a game tying touchdown.
All my fears suddenly started coming back. Please don’t let this happen again I thought to myself. I’m not ready to face the world again! I sat there in silence and although I hoped it wouldn’t happen, I started prepare myself for life without Packers football… and then it happened!
Sam Shields, who I cheered for during training camp and have a soft spot for all season long jumped the pass from Hanie and hauled the ball into his chest. Without saying a word I stood up with both arms raised, index fingers pointed to the sky and watched Shields run down the field. What happened next was something I had never expected… I began to cry. I stood there, arms still raised and watched the Packers bench celebrate as tears welled in my eyes. I have cried many times over the past eight months, but never have I cried tears of happiness! The Packers were going to the Super Bowl!
While everything in my life has been falling around me and I have felt helpless and angry at the world, the one thing that has been constant has been the Green Bay Packers… and they were going to the Super Bowl! The emotion and pure joy took over my body and I could no longer control myself… I stood there for what seemed an eternity and soaked up every second of that feeling… I was crying tears of joy… I was happy… the Packers were going to the Super Bowl!
I do not know what will happen in two weeks, I do not know what I will do when the Packers season inevitably comes to an end. All I know is that for that moment I was the happiest I have been for a very long time. I will never forget that moment when Sam Shields plucked that ball from the air and made me cry tears of joy! He will never know what he has done for this little Aussie, but I want to thank him for giving me that moment, I want to thank every member of the Green Bay Packers organisation and I want to thank every member of Packer Nation, you are all my friends and I am glad to be one of you… even if I do cry!