I’ve loved football all of my life. As a little kid, I played football everyday. I played in high school, college, family reunions, Sundays. It’s been part of me for as long as I remember.
And, as long as I remember, I’ve been a fan of the Green Bay Packers. One of my first recollections is buying a gold helmet at a garage sale for a quarter and putting “15” on the back of it, just like the pros. That was Bart Starr’s number. I changed it later to “23” for Travis Williams.
Football, especially Packers fans, is not so much about the game as it is about the bonding experience between fathers and sons. It’s a language we all know. It’s time we spend together. It’s something deeper.
The Packers are an organization that reflects the community. We like to think of ourselves as underdogs, people from a disrespected lot, wearing cheeseheads, eating bratwursts, drinking beer and dancing the polka. Instead of being insulted, we’ve decided to embrace what others see as unseemly.
We’re just a little weird.
The Packers play in the smallest community in professional sports, with a whole bunch of trophies, many against those big city teams from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and such. If ever there were a David and Goliath, Green Bay played the role of David very well.
Now, I’m not a colors-wearing, shirt-off-in-the-cold, painted chest, drinking ‘til I can’t see kind of fan. I love the game because it’s sort of a chess match with speed and power.
Games are played by appointment. TV makes them bigger than life. Slow motion and close ups takes a game that is played in microseconds by unimaginably large human beings and turns it into a brutal ballet.
As we all sit on our sofas, we coach and cajole, lean and lurch, feel our hearts race and fall. It’s a game we feel.
Maybe I’m a Neanderthal. Maybe I would have watched chariot races or the lions in the Coliseum. But, there is something compelling about competition, about something that isn’t scripted, with real speed and danger lurking in the background.
So Sunday, I will be watching. Go Pack!