My children are considering an intervention. While they didn’t use the words “jackwagon” or “dillweed” when they discovered I have been cheering for the Packers throughout the playoffs, they did question my sanity and told me I was a traitor to the purple and gold. I tried to explain that it was like buying a non-resident fishing license while you’re on vacation. You temporarily enjoy exciting, pristine waters, and then you come home refreshed, with a new perspective on life. They weren’t buying what I was selling.
In truth, my lifelong relationship with the Minnesota Vikings franchise is best described by a verse from Proverbs. “Like a dog returns to his vomit, so does a fool to his folly.” Every year the Vikings raise my hopes on a heady wave of excitement and optimism, only to dash my dreams on the rocks of reality and despair. This season was even worse on some levels than the Super Bowl defeats. It started off with lofty predictions of at least a return to the NFC Championship game. Then came the ill fated drama dance with Brett Favre, last second defeats, devastating injuries, incompetent coaching, and underachieving players who spent more effort tweeting than performing on the field. The deflated dome and season ending loss to the once lowly Lions were perfect metaphors for a season that is best labeled “stinky” and filed away right behind “Steckel.”
Clearly it’s time for a vacation from the Vikings, and this year’s playoff edition of the Green Bay Packers is the football fan’s version of an all inclusive resort. Despite losing 16 players over the course of the season, the Packers battled their way into the post-season and won three playoff victories on the road to earn a berth in the Super Bowl. How did they do it? It all starts with coaching. How else could you plug undrafted free agents like Tramon Williams and Sam Shields into your secondary and not skip a beat? Mike McCarthy has taken a lot of heat over the years, but this season is a coaching masterpiece.
The Packer’s offense is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. With a deep and talented wide receiver corps, a rediscovered running game (another player snatched off the scrap heap by McCarthy), and a versatile, patient, strong armed, and accurate quarterback, the Packers can run up the score on anybody...including the Pittsburgh Steelers. If I could pick any quarterback to start an NFL team, Aaron Rodgers would be my choice, and not just because of his prodigious physical skills. The guy is a class act who has performed admirably under tremendous pressure and never thrown his coaches or teammates under the bus.
Then there’s the defense that never rests. With Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, and Cullen Jenkins on the attack, opposing quarterbacks better make sure that their life insurance is paid up. Reports out of Green Bay say that the coaches have been working with the pass rushers on a “secret plan” to put Ben Roethlisberger on the ground. With the Steeler’s talented rookie Pro-Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey out for the Super Bowl, the Packers should get to Roethlisberger early and often. With “Big Ben” under constant pressure, he’s sure to offer up some mistakes to the ballhawking green and gold secondary.
If the Packer’s stay aggressive, run the spread offense, and protect Rodgers, they should be able to score at least 28 points on the Steelers. Then, if they can keep from crawling into a conservative shell and keep the prevent defense off the field, they should be celebrating their fourth Super Bowl. I’ll be partying with them, but then the vacation will be over, and it will be back to the always fascinating life of a Minnesota Vikings fan. After all...what would I do with all my purple and gold stuff?