We want to, first and foremost, in honor of America and the Green Bay Packers, extend a happy Fourth of July to all of you and especially to all the men and women serving this great country around the world.
On this, the most important day in the history of our nation, it is important to take a moment to reflect on all those things important: freedom, liberty, and Packers football. It may not seem that Packers football goes hand-in-hand with all that is Red, White and Blue, but I disagree. The Green Bay Packers are the epitome of what this nation stands for.
Think about it – the Packers started out with a $500 loan for uniforms and as part of that deal they had to be named after their sponsor, The Indian Packing Company (Corporate Sponsorship, not much more American than that). Within the first year of moving to the American Professional Football Association, they lost the team due to financial issues, only to regain the team after obtaining support from the “Hungry Five.”
So from the depths of financial ruin, Curly Lambeau built a team that won six National Football League Championships (rags to riches, the great American story).
Then the success of the past was met by 12 years of desolate play and failure that was as bad as the Great Depression in the hearts of Packers fans.
Then riding into town was the son of Italian immigrants, Vince Lombardi, a man of conviction who believed success was earned and not given. He expected nothing more than 100 percent from the people around him and when they did not deliver he took it as a personal insult. This was most evident in the 1960 Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, when the offense was stopped on a game-winning drive just short of the end zone. Lombardi told his team, “This will never happen again. You will never lose another championship.” They never did under him.
During the Lombardi years, the Packers exemplified the march to racial equality that was prevalent in our nation. Lombardi deplored racism and prejudice. To him the color of a player’s skin did not matter, as he wanted players who could play the game and to him the only color of his players was, Packers green.
As the fight for equality gripped the nation in the 1960s, Lombardi made it clear to his players, the community and those around him that prejudice and racism would not be tolerated. He went s0 far as telling the local businesses in Green Bay that if they did not accept all of his players regardless of their skin color, the business would be off-limits to all of his players.
Lombardi and the Packers were a microcosm of what America was experiencing in the 1960s and it was the staunch beliefs of one man who brought equality to Green Bay, both on and off the field.
After his departure, turmoil and losing became the norm. From 1968 to 1991, the Packers, like America were mired in a battle that was not even mediocre. As our military fought in Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War, the Packers battled to losing record after losing record. Leaders came and went with no improvement in performance or record and like the battles being fought against Communism, victory was elusive.
Then as the Cold War began to thaw and the wall between East and West crumbled, the Packers, under the leadership of Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren and a gunslinger named Brett Favre, like America, emerged from a hibernation and became relevant. Building upon success, the Green and Gold, like the Red, White and Blue, rose from the ashes and succeeded where there had only been failure.
The torch was eventually passed from Favre and Reggie White to Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Winning built success and success built winning. During that time, our nation has faced great adversity. From bombings to shootings and a plague of other calamities that have sought to knock us down.
We as a nation have put aside our differences to stand for what is right and what we believe in, in times of tragedy. As Packers fans, we do the same, we put aside our differences and on game day, we bleed green and gold. Conservative or liberal, black or white, gay or straight does not matter; we come together as one with the single purpose of supporting all things Packers.
So today as we celebrate our 237 birthday as a nation, it is OK to mix in some Green and Gold with that Red, White and Blue because the Packers truly represent the struggles and victories of America.
GOD BLESS AMERICA and GO PACK GO!