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What Brett Favre means to Packers fans

I was born in 1961 and became a Packer’s fan shortly there after (reasons why at this link).

I split my time with the Packers into four “eras”:

  • Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Paul Hornung (1959 – 1967)
  • The Barren Wasteland (1968 – 1991)
  • Brett Favre, Reggie White (1992 – 2007)
  • Aaron Rodgers (2007 to now)

I do not believe any Packer questions Favre’s just announced induction into the Packer Hall of Fame, (which is a separate organization from the Green Bay Packers, BTW) or his jersey retirement. His so-called betrayal of the Packers (going to the Vikings), his constant retirement and un-retirement, and his other off-field antics pale to what he and others (Reggie White must be included) brought to Packers fans like me that suffered through the barren wasteland of Packer-dom that was the 70s and 80s. Favre was the leader of a group that had Packers fans expecting to compete for the Super Bowl every year, instead of just being lucky to make the playoffs.

If you need any more proof of Favre’s impact, my mom bought me a Favre Jets jersey…it may still be the only one in existence that hasn’t been burned.

With screenshots from Wikipedia, this is easy to explain:

Before Vince Lombardi, the Packers won six NFL Championships (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944).

The Vince Lombardi years

PackersLombardi

The year before Vince Lombardi became Coach (1958), the Packers had a record of 1-10-1. During his reign as coach, with Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and many others that grace the Hall of Fame, the Packers added five more titles (three NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls) and almost won the NFL Championship in 1960. With three MVPs and two Super Bowl MVPs, there was a lot to cheer about…unless you were ages 0-6 years old, like I was at the time.

The Barren Wasteland of Packer fandom

PackersBarrenWasteland

Right about the time I was able to truly root for a team (I was told I was one of the only ones in Texas subscribing to the Packer Backer newspaper., the Packers took loyal fans into more than two decades of futility: one division title, one playoff victory out of three playoff games…over more than twenty years. I didn’t start drinking (okay, I did like beer), but I started playing Rugby (okay, not really in response to that). It was a difficult time to be a Packers fan, even with 11 World Championships, a unique ownership structure and one of the coolest stadiums in the world. It may not be politically correct in this day and age, but backing a loser sucks.

Brett Favre

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Truly, it wasn’t just Favre (whom GM Ron Wolf traded a 1st round pick for before the 1992 season). Reggie White (1993-1998) and several others had a lot to do with it. During Favre’s tenure with the Pack, we went from one division title in 23 years to 7 in 16 years; from an environment where it was a big deal to even make the playoffs to where it was expected; from one playoff victory to twelve playoff victories, including one Super Bowl victory and one Super Bowl that got away.

No matter if Packers fans feel betrayed by some of Favre’s late-in-career moves, his impact on the Packers history, changing from “hey look, we got into the playoffs” to “we expect to contend for the Super Bowl every year” cannot be denied.

Aaron Rodgers

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That mentality has carried over. Packers fans (myself included) still expect to contend for the Super Bowl every year. We are very fortunate to be able to go from one future Hall of Fame quarterback to another in Aaron Rodgers. In six season, five playoff victories, one Super Bowl victory. Rodgers currently has the highest career passer rating and percentage completion of any NFL Quarterback in history.

What did Rodgers learn from being Favre’s back-up for three seasons? Did he learn what to do, and/or what not to do? Only Rodgers knows, and I doubt he will ever tell. He is much less a gunslinger than Favre, and has only started six seasons with the packers to Favre’s sixteen. The accomplishments of the past six seasons are not Favre’s, but he certainly set the tone and expectations with Packers fans.

The Packers have won 13 championships and are primed to make a run at several more. Thanks for Favre (and Rodgers) we now expect it every season.

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Packers Preseason – what to do when no broadcast available

Finally, the Packers are back. Sure, it’s only preseason. But offensive line injuries, new running backs, 1st round draft pick Datone Jones and new pickup Vince Young peaked Pack fans’ curiosity.

But calling around to our favorite watching spots, the Pack was nowhere to be viewed.

Rob, the great bartender at our normal spot, Kilburn’s, tells me that the Pack is not showing on NFL Ticket. A few more calls echoed that, with the gent from the BrickHouse Tavern stating that NFL Ticket showed a random set of preseason games.

Enter a bit of technology, and NFL Preseason Live.

For a mere $19.99 (which is more than I would spend on beer at Kilburn’s) you get access to all of the preseason games that are not blacked out (we could not watch the Texans game, but it was on regular local broadcast TV).

The broadcast comes on tablets or smartphones (iOS or Android) or browsers, in nice HD. And, using an Apple TV, I was able to display the game on our HDTV. For some reason, this only worked using AirPlay on a Mac. When we tried AirPlay from an iPad, it would not display.

There was a few times with a bit of lag. But it was in HD and, even better, the commercials were few and low volume. And the picture in picture worked well, so we could watch a second game.

It is doubtful that we would subscribe for the entire season, as the games are quite available…but for 20 bucks and some tech, the Packers preseason is taking care of. Now we just need the team to execute.

 

Packers after eight games – still Super Bowl bound

Coming off their bye week, the Green Bay Packers own the longest active winning streak in the NFC, and are tied for the longest winning streak in the NFL. And they managed that with at least seven starters injured or out. All teams above the Packers in the NFC standings lost or tied, including the Chicago Bears, putting the Packers one game back.

The Packers remaining schedule includes 5 games against NFC North opponents, the NY Giants and the Tennessee Titans. The Chicago Bears, currently one game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North, play at SF next Monday night, then play Minnesota twice, the Seattle Seahawks and then the Packers.

If the Bears lose in SF next Monday and the Packers take care of business at Detroit, the Packers will take the lead in the NFC North (by virtue of a tie breaking win over da Bears).

These facts and the following stats lead me to the conclusion: the path to the Super Bowl must go through Green Bay. Several stats jump out:

  • The Packers played without at least seven starters during their win streak. And still won. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and Greg Jennings (abdomen), fullback John Kuhn (hamstring) and running back Cedric Benson (sprained foot) were among the offensive starters who missed games during the Packers winning streak. Offensive lineman Brian Belaga is now out for the season as well. Nelson and Kuhn practiced this week.
  • On the defense, safety Charles Woodson (broken collarbone), cornerback Sam Shields (ankle) and linebackers Nick Perry (knee), D.J. Smith (knee) and Desmond Bishop (hamstring) also were out. B.J. Raji also missed time, but came back for the game before the bye. Shields practiced this week. Clay Matthews hamstring injury is concerning, but the backup linebackers did well in his absence. Resting him an extra game would help toward the end of the season.
  • Aaron Rodgers has threw 18 TD passes over a five game span during the streak, the most in franchise history by a Packers QB over a five-game span in a season. The previous high was 17 by Rodgers in 2011 (twice).
  • Rodgers threw two touchdown passes in the Packers’ 24-15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week eight, giving him 21 in eight games. Last season, he had 24 at the midway mark. No other quarterback in league history has had back-to-back seasons with 20-plus touchdown passes through the first eight games.

The Pack has a shot at the Super Bowl every season Rodgers plays.

No other team in the NFC is positioned as the Packers are. The Atlanta Falcons were defeated by the New Orleans Saints, and play the Saints one more time.

The Packers would most likely have to win out to have a chance at catching the Falcons (let’s throw one more curse at the replacement refs for the Seattle loss), but control their own fate as far as winning the NFC North and getting a higher seeding.

Based on their performance the last two years, we “hope” they do not get a bye week in the playoffs; the Packers (and other teams in the past) has proven it plays better without sitting out a bye (which usually includes resting starters during the last game of the season).

Go Pack Go!

covergkq

It all started with Bart Starr and Jerry Kramer

The Scholastic Book Club was a huge fetish of mine during later elementary school and middle school. Every six weeks a pulp magazine of their latest offerings would arrive. I’d check off the ones I wanted, then work to persuade my mom and dad to get me some subset of the list.36381

That was how I read about Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers.

In January of 1967, and again in January of 1968, the Packers, champions of the National Football League, defeated first the Kansas City Chiefs and then the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League. Winning those first two Super Bowls made legends out of many of the Packers players and, of course, of their coach Vince Lombardi.

One of those players was Bart Starr, subject of the Scholastic published biography by John Devaney. I devoured that book, and was then handed a copy of Jerry Kramer’s Packer Diary, Instant Replay which I also absorbed. Though I was in Texas, the Packers became my team. Stories of the Ice Bowl and the two Super Bowl wins, of Lombardi and the great Packers of those times, made them instant favorites.covergkq

Shortly after this, the Packers made the playoffs again, in 1972. This would start a pattern of testing Packer fan resolve for a decade, making the playoffs again in 1982, and then again in 1993. There were consistent playoff participants thereafter; but it was a LONG wait for us Packer fans…nearly three decades, until January of 1997, for the Packers to return to prominence and win another Super Bowl with Brett Favre at quarterback. They came close the next year, losing to Elway and the Broncs.

Unless you’ve been living under certain rocks, you’ll know that the Packers under Aaron Rodgers are reining Super Bowl Champs, and are currently undefeated.

I have never seen the Packers play. My wife did win tickets to the Super Bowl in a contest, so we’ve been to Super Bowl 41, in February of 2007, watching her favorite Peyton Manning and the Colts defeat the Bears.

That changes next Sunday, November 20, when, for my 50th birthday (still a few weeks away) my wife takes me to sit in the 5th row of the LeapZone at Lambeau Field when the hopefully-still-undefeated Packers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Stay tuned….

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