You might remember last February? It was the month when the Packers surprised the world and won the Super Bowl.
You might remember the feeling of going to work the Monday after that Super Bowl win and only smiling when all your Vikings or Lions or, God forbid, your Bears fans sheepishly extended congratulations.
It was the best of times that were to soon become the worst of times.
Little more than a couple of weeks passed when the world’s eyes again turned to the Dairy State … this time because of the political upheaval that erupted from Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to introduce his budget repair bill that pitted neighbor against neighbor, sometimes family member against family member.
We all know the gist of what happened … the bill pointedly targeted unions, and specifically teachers unions … taking collective bargaining rights and emasculating any form of power teachers had in negotiating future contracts. Teachers were also required to pay more toward their insurance and pension funds.
The outcry was long and resolute, but did little because of the Republican majority in the Legislature. The bill became law and people are now living with the consequences – good and bad.
However, the hurt and divisions still exist. Recall elections are under way and the fallout from the situation will probably last for years.
Then came a different kind of union disagreement, the private war between the National Football League owners and the NFL Players Association. While this argument was different because it involved employers and employees from the private sector, the power struggle was similar.
In this case, it took months before a resolution came to be … but it couldn’t have occurred at a more opportune time.
You see, football is the uniting force that will help clear away, even if temporarily, the divisions we have felt for months. Cheering on the Packers, watching every move made by management, arguing with our Vikings, Bears and Lions friends about who is going to win the division are all going to help us heal the hurt we’ve been feeling for so long.
It’s time to think about who’s going to run the ball for the Packers; it’s time to think about whether this could be Donald Driver’s final season with the team; it’s time to think about how management will approach free agency and how many of our own will be re-signed.
So with the lockout behind us, we can now actually look forward to 10 years of uninterrupted football year-in and year-out. We can hunker down on the couch with our chips and salsa, our friends decked out in their Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, and Clay Matthews jerseys for a Sunday afternoon of merriment and fun before heading back to the office or jobsite Monday morning.
Wisconsin residents are united by the Packers Nation, regardless of political viewpoints. We’re fans of the history, the tradition, and the joy of watching a franchise, the league’s smallest, clean up on the teams from New York and California. We take pride in that.
For the next six or seven months the political football will take a backseat to the joy of just chilling and watching football.
It’s what we become at this point of the year.
It’s what we live and breathe.
And that’s why Lambeau Field is filled for the annual Family Night; it’s why the preseason and regular season games have been sold out for decades; It’s why Green Bay has become the football Mecca, the top item on many people’s bucket lists; It’s why tens of thousands have placed their names on the season ticket list knowing that it could be their children or grandchildren who may have a shot at receiving them.
So bring on the brats, the cheese and the footballs. It’s time to live the life we all love: Being fans of the Green Bay Packers.