There’s No Joy In Mudville

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I tend to bring out a joke on days like today.  It goes:

A woman comes into work on Monday, and a colleague asks how her weekend was.  She goes on to say: “Fine up until yesterday.  I was out for brunch with the girls, and when I came home, it was like he was in such a horrible state.  He seemed depressed, sad, lost.  I thought I could cheer him with his favorite meal.  It was a steak, with all the fixings.  He pushed it around his plate as if it wasn’t there.  As the night went on, he stared off into the distance like all hope for the future left him.  I found him in bed curled up tight; so I held him, I pulled him close, I did what I could to make him happy.  Afterwords, I could hear him quietly sob into his pillow.  I don’t know what it was that brought him there, and I am sure I will never understand; but I held him close hoping that one day he will open up enough to let me inside.”

Her boyfriend comes into work on Monday; and a colleague asks how was his weekend.  He goes on to say: “Packers lost … got laid though.”

I am a sports fan.  By that, I mean I love nearly all sports.  I love watching sports, love analyzing sports, love getting to know sports.  I paid a fee to get all the Aussie Rules Football games sent to me, cause I didn’t have a good channel for it.  I live for Memorial Days with 10 hours of racing.  I can tell you a lot about professional cycling, the scoring for Irish hurling, and difference between rugby union & rugby league.  I live for a great game, of any type and any sport.  Yet for the most part, I love not being a ‘TRUE’ fan of only one team.

Granted, I jumped on the Milwaukee Brewers bandwagon this year … until August.  I can be called the worst New Jersey Devils fan, because that hockey team is only good when I am not paying attention to them … as soon as they start missing the playoffs, I watch every game.

Oh … I do hate a lot of teams; like if you want to see me fall asleep quick turn on an NBA game.  I am not quiet about the disapproval of Big Ten Football (the lastest hit:  “They should expand the college playoffs to 8 teams so they can let 3 Big Ten Teams in, and they can all lose in the first round together”) — yeah, that includes you UW and your pansy non-conference schedule (I mean … yeah, they schedule those things years in advance, but we all kinda knew where Utah State was gonna be years ago … but I guess they are tougher opponent than Minnesota, Maryland, Rutgers, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, and whatever overrated school that will limp home to the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Bowl).

That all being said there is one exception … one MASSIVE exception.  I am a Green Bay Packer Fan.

I am a BIG Packer Fan.

I am part owner of the Green Bay Packers, have the share of stock to prove it.

Every year for the last 10 years I have bought a new Packer Jersey.  Usually at least two … this year it was the new tight end Martellus Bennett before he dropped every ball thrown to him, then Mike Daniels because there is a chance a co-worker will get to play him in Mario Smash Brothers (which is a whole other story).

Sitting there through the Lynn Dickey, Randy Wright, and Magic Majkowski years – I learned what it means to be committed to a sub-par product.  I learned that the dumbest thing to do in the first play of a Two Minute Drill was to run a draw, because I suffered through Forrest Gregg as a coach.  I got excited like the rest of Packer Nation when we drafted Tony Mandarich who was the only one of the top 5 picks not to be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame (others were, get ready for this, Derrik Thomas, Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, and Barry Sanders).   Yet when in Reggie White went looking for a new team in 1993, and Green Bay was included in the possible teams he would play for … I found it laughable.  Yet on January 26, 1997 I sat in utter shock when the team I had loved for so long found stood atop the world with a Super Bowl trophy in their hand.

I grew up watching the Green Bay Packers.  Sunday after Sunday I would plan my world around the games.  Sometimes I would try to stay in bed until noon, just to get up in time for the game … waiting until halftime for a good shower.  I remember the Snow Bowl, when Dad was painting my bedroom while feet of snow fell on us and the way too cold Tampa Bay Bucs.  I remember my Dad in his ‘burnt chicken’ routine, which included grilling chicken every Sunday and every time he checked the grill he would grab a beer … and that period would get longer and longer and longer in between.  But more than ever, I remember sitting with my Dad, Grandpa Julius, and me after I caught a bus from college … and we had time to sit around Grandpa’s house to watch the Packers lose another game (I guess they coulda won, but I don’t remember anything about the game, just that we were there).

If you aren’t a sports fan and want to know what a sports fan can live through, I would dare you to read the poem “Casey At Bat”.  It is a baseball story written in 1888 … and I do mean, the eighteen hundreds.  It is as classic of a sports of a story as they come, where you can feel that great come-from-behind win that comes with any sports, but what makes it a memorable story is that the great winner loses.  Casey, mighty Casey, strikes out.  But that is as much what we hate about sports is what we love.  Greatness sometimes can’t be great.

Yesterday, the Packers Lost.  Not only that, they lost their Superstar, Hall of Famer shoe-win, Possibly Greatest of All Time Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  These days, the team seems to live and die off of Rodgers.  We were Superbowl caliber, we are running out of years where we are.  So losing Rodgers to what may be a season ending injury was gutting.   Gutting.  It was hard to deal with it.  I mean, usually when the Packers lose I have a hard time watching football for a week.  Yesterday, the pup could feel it, he couldn’t stay more than a few feet away, and wanted to cuddle me through whatever funk I was in.  Today, I didn’t want to know anything about any sport; or for that matter anything to do with collar bones.  Today was a tough day.  A day I wanted nothing more than to crawl into the corner and feel bad.  It’s the kind of feeling that you know only a really really … REALLY … good cry can get you out of it.

But as the day went I realized how amazing sports is.  That it has the ability for us to feel such great feelings.  Maybe it’s more of a male thing, but sometime we need to be reminded of what emotions could lie inside of us.  How much I enjoy breaking down what the impact of strong blind side tackles have on an offense’s success.  How much I can feel excited when a team is down with 1:13 left to play in a game and you know you will still win this.  How horrible you feel because an otherwise random dude breaking a bone could make you feel so hopeless.  How much you miss sitting in a room with your Grandpa and Dad just one more time.

Today, there was no joy in Mudville.  We hope Rodgers recovers, if not this season, but before he can call it a career.  We hope that our backup QB will be everything they say he could be.  We hope the other teams in our division keep stumbling like they are capable of doing.  We Hope!

I guess I may be lucky.  I only live and die over one team.  But I die … and I live … and that is why I love sports.

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