I’ve been a Packers fan my entire life. While I was too young to really appreciate their dominance in the 60s, I was there for it and read every book, magazine article, newspaper box score, and…oh wait- we didn’t have anything other than books, magazines, and newspapers back then. So that’s what I did.
The thing is I knew all about Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer, Vince Lombardi, and the rest of the 60s teams long before I moved to Neenah, Wisconsin in 1972. I played football on the same field that Fuzzy Thurston’s son played on, met and ran into Packers players all over the area, and in general lived and died with the Packers. Punishment for me was being grounded…from watching the Packers on Sunday.
Things have improved dramatically since Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren took over and brought the team back to respectability. Now Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy seem to be able to keep the good times going. It’s great to be a Packers fan today. But in the 70s, there was a lot more dying than living with the Packers. Still, I was glad to be a Packers fan-even then. Still am in fact.
Being a Packers fan hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been easier than being a fan of most of the other NFL teams.
Bears fans have to deal with a petulant though sardonic quarterback, defenses that have always been over-hyped (except maybe for 1985), and inconsistent play as a matter of course for generations. Some great ones have played there, but few have won anything there. Their stadium used to be one of the classics, but now all that’s left of the classic is the columns they couldn’t figure out how to demolish with the rest of the original Soldier Field. One Super Bowl win says it all.
Vikings fans have to deal with the sting of being zip for four in Super Bowls, a stadium that should have been condemned long ago with a convertible roof, love boat scandals, horrible trades, and purple as a primary uniform color. No thanks. Oh, and being completely two-faced about Favre. They hated him playing for Green Bay, but they sure did love him in purple. Maybe they’ll add him to their Ring of Honor.
Lions fans are saddled with a “fiery” (read intensely mercurial) head coach, players who like to tell everybody they’re high-character guys but act like thugs both on the field and off it, and though historically they have won four championships none have occurred since 1957. Great ones have played there too, but precious few have won anything there either. Thanksgiving usually means getting to watch some team beat the Lions on the Lions’ home field.
Outside the division, let’s examine Cowboys fans. Now living in Texas as I do and observing them in close proximity, there is no mammalian species as cunning, blindly loyal, or shameless as the common Cowboys fan. The team has been to more Super Bowls than any other team in the NFL. They’ve won more or less consistently throughout their entire existence. But they couldn’t get past Lombardi’s Packers. When they have been bad, they’ve been really bad. Their stadium is a monument to excess and their owner is not really the owner. He’s the owner/general manager/coach/scout/general mucker-about. And the whole America’s Team thing is so self-importantly untruthful that I can barely get my head around the concept. C’mon man! The Packers are America’s Team!
You can’t be a Redskins fan because the Redskins are…too political.
The Patriots are…to Belichick-ical. And they cheat.
The Eagles are…well, they have too many ties to the Holmgren-era Packers. There’s 4th down and 26. And they beat Lombardi’s first Championship team. Forget about it.
The Browns are…well, they’re not really the Browns.
The Ravens are…well, they’re really the Browns. Or the Colts.
The Colts…well who really knows who they are? But it’s good their coach is holding his own in his fight against leukemia. Chuckstrong!
The New York teams (both of them) are…too big-market with too much baggage.
The West Coast teams are…too close to the next natural disaster. Or one particularly egregious officiating disaster. But thanks 49ers for pounding the snot out of the Bears so well on Monday night!
All of these teams have had success at one time or another. All have had great players come and go. Most have been consistently good for at least one period during their existence. They’ve all had their doormat periods too.
The Packers are publically owned, by me and about 362,000 of my closest friends.
The Packers play in by far the smallest market (or DMA) in the NFL. The 18 largest markets in the country all have NFL teams. Twelve of the next 35 markets have teams. The next smallest market area, New Orleans, is ranked 53. Green Bay is ranked 70. Only about 106,000 people actually live in Green Bay.
Historically, the Packers are the third-oldest team in the NFL, behind only Arizona (as the Racine Cardinals) and Chicago (as the Decatur Staleys). Fans have kept the team alive when times were tough.
The Packers have won far more Championships (13) than any other team.
Green Bay is the only team to have won three Championships in a row, having done it twice (1929, 1930, 1931, and 1965, 1966, 1967).
The Packers have sold out every home game since 1960, including all those tough-to-watch games in the 70s and 80s when the Packers were, with rare exception, in their doormat mode.
The season ticket waiting list is so long that my grandchildren might make be able to buy them someday. But it’s highly likely that the team will still be in Green Bay and will still play in front of sold-out crowds when Bill II gets to the head of the line.
The Packers of today are a team with few of the personality problems with which other fans have to deal. Oh sure, once in a while somebody adroitly finds their mouth with their foot, but on balance there is far less turmoil associated with the Packers than most if not all other NFL teams. Tebow anyone?
The team and its stadium are both built to win for the long-haul. Lambeau Field is the oldest NFL stadium, but it has been renovated and improved to give the fans a great experience. The facility has the classic feel and historic look of a stadium in which a team like the Packers should play.
The quarterback is one of the finest in the league and could end up being the finest ever. Just sayin’.
The management and coaches are all working toward the same goals. No coach-on-coach sniping or media-based tempestuousness in Packerland.
There are Packers fans all over the place. When the team travels there are more often than not enough Packers fans at road games to drown out the home team’s fans.
Perhaps best of all, the Packers don’t have the “fiery” coach or the owner who can and just might move the team elsewhere. I’m fine with that.
No, the Packers aren’t perfect. But what team in sports is? I’ve done the research, crunched the numbers, and analyzed the data. If you’re a Packers fan you already know I wasted my time.
Thankful I’m a Packers fan? As a matter of fact I am!
Happy Thanksgiving! Go Pack GO! And go Texans in Detroit!
DISCLAIMER: Absolutely no sensitivities were damaged during the writing of this article. However, reader sensitivities may have been damaged during the reading of this article.