I’m a bit on edge as I write this because I’m afraid that if Poppa Bear George Halas has any pull whatsoever with God he may very well strike me down with lightning for blasphemy to Beardom. The fact of the matter is though, that I just can’t help but root for Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers as this year’s NFL Playoffs roll on.
Now let me backtrack and tell you that I hate, with a fiery passion all things Packers. I hate their cheese and green uniforms. I hate their obnoxious sausage eating fans. I hate their frozen tundra and their cheese wedge hats. I’m a Bears fan dammit, we’re bred to hate the Packers. But my beloved Bears spent the entire season choking on their own pompousness and delusions of grandeur, so I have to put that aside for now.
And so, in putting it aside, I watched Saturday’s game between the Packers and Seahawks fully intending to root for Seattle and watch the Packers fall! A funny thing happened on the way to that goal though. I saw on old gunslinger of a quarterback, throwing snowballs and underhanded passes at teammates. I saw someone really and truly having fun playing the game. I have to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone have that much fun playing a professional sport.
You can argue that the in vogue receiver of the moment and his crazy touchdown dance is having fun, but I’ve always considered that, in addition to poor sportsmanship, to be self indulgent and boastful—not in the name of having fun. This was a guy who may be working his way through a season for the last time or two, letting it all hang out and having a blast doing what he loves. It’s hard not to respect and enjoy watching that pursuit.
As a Bears fan, I’ve always hated Brett Favre, it goes along with my hatred of all things Packers, but, as many fellow Bears fans will grudgingly admit, we also respect Favre. He’s a damn good quarterback and a damn good leader and while we may not like him and his Chunky Soup commercials, we do respect him for his abilities.
And that brings me back to this weekend and watching this old school cowboy of a football player and the way he infected a team with a big time case of the fun. In contrast I watch the New England Patriots and their clinical precision. I see a grumpy coach and a personality-free team of zombie-like players with a win only mentality and while I can appreciate that and the results it’s garnering, I can’t root for it. I can’t cheer for a scalpel laden surgeon against a happy go lucky butcher.
The butcher is the everyman. We understand him. We can remember back to cold winter days, on our own fields of dreams, covered in snow and mud when we drew up plays in kid filled huddles that involved everyone throwing a snowball at their defender before running post patters to the end zone (read: the big crooked tree).
What is sport if not a reason to remember? And while he may wear a uniform with goofy, ugly colors. While his fan base may think a cheese wedge is appropriate headwear and his home field have a stupid nickname, while he may be everything that every Packer fan feels engenders what it is to be a Packer and while they may hold that over our heads for all of my life, I just cannot bring myself to root against this guy. Not now, not this week, or next or the week after.
Forgive me Iron Mike. Forgive me Sweetness. Forgive me Papa Bear. I’m rooting for the goddamn Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl. Queue the flying pigs.