Sunday, February 6, 2011

No Place Like Home

I was 3-months and 15-months old when the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowls I and II, so I wasn't really up to speed on the nuances of what it meant to live in 'Packer Country.' I lived out of state when the Pack won the Big Game in '97. In 1998 I lived through the rioting and chaos in Denver when the Packers lost to the Broncos. Man, I took a financial beating that year, playing the role of a faithful fan transplanted in enemy territory. The odd thing is, I'm not really much of a football fan. If you come from Wisconsin, however, you are a Packer fan. There's so much rich history, passion, and tradition in the Green Bay Packer organization that its hard not to get sucked into it. From the legendary persona of Vince Lombardi to the fact that the team is owned by the people of the city of Green Bay rather than some meglo-maniac billionaire; you can't help but root for this team. I'm not alone in thinking that, either. Apparently there's a Packer themed bar in every NFL city in the country. While I never really embraced the whole football sub-culture, I still quietly cheered for my home-town heroes. This season was no different, save one small thing. I lived in Wisconsin during a Packer post-season. This year's post season even had Cinderella thinking, "Nobody can be that lucky." Sneaking their way into the play-offs missing practically one third of their starters, they just kept rolling. Winning in convincing fashion, they went from mid-season mediocrity to play-off powerhouse. Before we knew it, the Packers we're going to Super Bowl XLV.

The morning of Super Bowl Sunday was business as usual for me. At 8:30am I was getting a coffee and heading to the lake front to walk the dog. As I drove through town, things were a subtly out of the ordinary. Guys in full Packer regalia were carrying coolers to their cars. The church's parking lots were full (normal), as was the liquor store's (not so normal for a Sunday morning). Wisconsin's faithful praying for a win and then buying the beer to make the ride smoother whichever way it went. Packer fans are that way. Football & God (usually in that order) are what Sundays in winter are all about here. We believe they go hand in hand. That's why I knew The Packers would win.

Last week, during the blizzard that completely shut the city down (except for my place of business. We remained open throughout the natural disaster, but ironically closed for Super Bowl Sunday), I sealed the victory with a simple act that made the football gods smile favorably upon my team. See, I have these neighbors.... In spite of the fact they have a monster snow blower and I have a shovel, they have never once cleared my walk; in spite of the fact their dog sneaks into our yard to crap almost every morning; and in spite of the fact they're Steeler fans; I helped them push their car out of the ridiculous pile of snow (that they refused to remove even though the have a snow blower) deposited by several passes of the city's snowplows. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game. Hard fought, talent ridden, well coached, very even (even in the unfair calls), everything a championship game should be. I was once again walking the dog when when the final whistle blew showing the Packers as champions. I would have know even if I hadn't been listening to the game on the radio. People whooping and yelling out their front doors and fireworks scattering across the February night sky told the story: the Lombardi Trophy was coming home. It was a very cool feeling. One I had missed in championships past. I was home for the home team's mighty win. I had faith, though. Karma works in strange and mysterious ways. That's why Packer fans believe in football and God.