Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Will Find the Truth

It took me a few days to make sure this post couldn't be traced, so I apologize for the delay. I am being watched, most likely by some combination of NFL Security, the Ecuadorian Deep State and The Olive Garden Corporation. But my message will not be stopped. I have reason to believe the fix was in on Sunday night. For dots I have been unable to connect as of yet, I believe that a loose coalition of Cathy Lanier, Quito spooks and the purveyor of bottomless breadsticks wanted the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Sunday night, or more likely, they wanted the Packers to lose.

I don't have the specifics as to time remaining, down and distance, etc., as the end of the game was hazy for me. Do I believe that someone slipped something into my Laphroaig to discredit me? I cannot confirm that, but my neighbor did find me tangled in her Christmas lights muttering, "Braveleg can make that kick." I'll let you be the judge about the contents of my Super Bowl XXXI lowball and whether I was drugged. I digress.

Game tied. Packers ball. Brett Hundley ready to replicate the Packers' previous possession and go the length of the field to take the lead and the W. What happens? Brett Hundley gets his bell rung on a blatant, cheap, dirty helmet-to-helmet hit. Fifteen yard penalty? Wrong. No call. Packers have to give up the ball. A couple plays later, the Steelers have a flag thrown on them on what was an obvious holding call. I had the perfect angle from my Reggie White bean bag to see it. Obviously a ref did too. Ten yard penalty? Wrong. The flag is mysteriously picked up, after what is most certainly someone in the earpiece of the head official telling him that that is the wrong call to make. A play or two later is the so-called catch by Antonio Brown. You know who didn't know it was a catch? The two refs whose job it is to know if it is a catch. Both stood and stared at each other, neither willing to make the call until one tentatively lifts up his arms, signaling catch. After a long review, using ultra slow motion and still photos, they do, in fact, call it a catch. BUT, if the refs had called incomplete initially, would the review have been sufficient to overturn it? NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.

And now, the final indicator that the Packers were playing against more than just the Pittsburgh Steelers, that they were playing against a nefarious group of shadowy and powerful individuals. Somehow, after the review of Antonio Brown's catch, the refs determined that time needed to be added to clock. You know what really helps when you are getting lined up for a last second field goal? A FEW MORE SECONDS.

...oh, man, I just noticed that an Olive Garden catering truck has been parked across the street for the last three hours, but nothing has been loaded or unloaded. I most likely will need to disappear for awhile. Remember, constant vigilance! We cannot, and will not, be silenced. The answers must be found as to why this game was stolen from the Packers. I will not stop until I find the truth, friends.

Franklin out.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Zombies Versus Packers: The Movie

The movie opens with the Packers about to play their last game of the season. A win here at Lambeau would only be a consolation prize but may provide a glimmer of hope in an otherwise turbulent season filled with injuries, chaos and infighting. They appear ready to play but just get destroyed. Fans boo and exit the stadium in the middle of the 3rd quarter and by the time the game ends, Lambeau is already almost empty.

As the final whistle blows, tempers come to a boil and there’s a fight on the field – amongst the Packers players themselves. Heads are definitely gonna roll for this one. It’s a low point in the history of the organization and the NFL.

In the locker room, the players dress and collect their things for the last time. Their season is over. It’s depressing as hell and they just want to get home to their families now, but unfortunately not just yet. The head of security comes in and tells players to stay in the locker room for the moment. There are apparently a few angry or drunken fans roaming around and possibly violent.

As the players wait it out scrolling through criticism and memes on Twitter and Instagram, a SCREAM followed by GUN SHOTS is heard from somewhere outside in the corridor. With the players confused and on edge, a STAFFER barges into the locker room. He’s covered in blood and seriously hurt. The kind-hearted Mason Crosby approaches him and asks if the staffer is OK, but there’s no response. He falls silent before ERUPTING in rage and attacking Crosby. The staffer is no longer human – he has turned into a freaking zombie.

Justin McCray and David Bakhtiari rip the attacker off Mason and throw him against the wall. The grotesque creature surveys them and gets ready to strike. The linemen warn him but he attacks anyway, biting at anything it can sink its teeth into. This is now life or death.

Randall Cobb grabs a pair of ¾-inch-spiked wet weather cleats and wails on the zombie’s head, ending him for good. It’s a terrifying ordeal and it’s about to get a lot worse. The main power goes out and the backup generators kick in. Through social media, the players learn the inside of Lambeau is swarming with these bloodthirsty, infectious creatures. The stadium is on complete lockdown with no one going in or out. The still-unknown outbreak must be contained at all costs. This is really happening.

SWAT and local police surround Lambeau with the National Guard on its way. The media is going bananas and the world begins to pray for the Green Bay Packers.

But this team is not going down without a fight. They don their helmets and pads more like suits of armor than uniforms. Crates filled with various weapons the Packers can use are airdropped right there on the 50 yard line.

The field lights snap on, and so do the cameras. The Lambeau Zombie Apocalypse is going to be a commercial-free, televised event. 

The zombies stand at the opposing end zone while the Packers wait on their own. Tune in as the Packers do battle for real survival in:


Thoughts? Additional ideas? I was thinking the outbreak was caused by poisoned stadium nacho cheese created by evil scientists within the Minnesota Vikings’ organization to literally kill off our fan base.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Packers Film Study Session – Billy Elliot

One of the most pondered questions in life is what makes someone do what they do? Why is it that certain people continue to flourish while others just can’t seem to catch a break? Is it luck? Is it hard work and perseverance?

Whether true or just perceived, the Packers organization and front office comes off at times as a bit… corporate. Of course, a legacy of championships, history and millions upon millions of revenue dollars serves as proof of their substantial organizational and brand power. But despite all the self-confidence in the world, no one should ever be too sure of himself – just ask Ivan Drago how that worked out for him.

You can talk all day about being a professional, being prepared and flawless execution but what about awakening the inner beast once in a while? The same one that eats lighting, craps thunder and offers random barbaric yawps to the moon? Did you know the average age of this team is like 26, which is still on the cusp of adolescence and adulthood? And the perfect time to fuse brain with beast.

The key to understanding the Packers predicament and motivation lies in the seminal film, Billy Elliot (2000). This remarkable underdog story of an 11-year old aspiring ballet dancer stuck in the coal mining town of Evrington, Durham County, Northeast England, perfectly parallels with the Packers current situation. I’m even willing to bet very few within the organization have seen or heard of it, nor would they consider an independent British dance drama film the perfect spark to ignite the fire within their collective bellies.

Allow me to explain.

In the movie, Billy lives with his hardened father and brother, two coal miners out on strike. To toughen up his son, Billy’s father sends him to boxing classes, which also happens to share the gym with a girls’ ballet class. Unbeknownst to his father, Billy joins the ballet class and his teacher begins to believe Billy has the potential to study and the Royal Ballet School in London. But his father finds out, and his disapproval and sheer stubbornness extinguish whatever hopes Billy might have of becoming a professional dancer.

The Green Bay Packers are in a similar situation. Under the care and guidance of McCarthy, Brett Hundley remains trapped in an environment that on the surface would appear to look out for his – and his team’s – best interests but one that also suppresses potential. What if they unleash the reigns and he’s no good? What if he fails? These questions and others like them are aptly addressed in the film.
Photo taken by Jim Matthews, Green Bay Press Gazette
Getting Billy into the Royal Ballet, you see, is only a metaphor for the taking that so-called leap of faith into the great unknown. McCarthy could turn back at any time, but it must be his conscious decision to lead Hundley – and the team – onto a new and hopeful path outside their comfort zones. This is no guarantee of success, but this action must be taken if any success were to happen at all.

This dilemma is precisely what Billy’s father eventually must come to terms with and so must McCarthy. If not, we know that Billy will languish in despair and grow up in the British coal mines like his brother and father before him. Similarly, we accept the fact that Hundley will also be stuck in check-down purgatory, never being able to blossom as a starting NFL quarterback, and giving the Packers no hope to overcome the cruel, unforgiving and inevitable losses that await.

A major turning point of the film shows Billy standing up to his father in the form of an impromptu dance, causing his father to drop his guard and see the potential that lies within his son. From then on, Billy’s father realizes he must do whatever it takes to get his son into the Royal Ballet School and acts accordingly.

In the final scene of the movie, Billy has long been accepted into the Royal Ballet School. We see his father (aka McCarthy) come to see what has finally become of his son (Hundley) during a performance of Swan Lake. A focused, stronger and more mature Billy gracefully leaps across the stage during the climax, thrilling the audience and astonishing his father. The “score” is irrelevant because the previous decisions that were made allowed us to be symbolically victorious. Whether that means winning games or just being competitive is to be determined…

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How to Achieve Happiness When Things Don’t Go Your Way

It’s so easy to rely on others for our personal happiness. I know this all too well. Maybe it’s your Uncle Elmer. Maybe it’s your bae, Ramone the Ticklish. Maybe it’s a group of people you don’t even really know, like the Packers. Or worse yet, it could be that block of cheddar in your fridge.

Sure, that perfectly aged, natural cow’s milk blend is a beautiful balance of both sharpness and texture, exciting your palette with savoring flavor. Pair that with the engaging satisfaction of watching a 7-minute Packers drive end in 7 points and you might be in heaven. But soon, your blood pressure soars due to the high sodium content of the cheese. And then you start to feel sick after remembering that article, which said cheese can contain pus from cows’ bladder infections. And Brett Hundley just threw a pick that effectively ended the game.

Where is your happiness now, my friend? Was it really so fragile, fleeting and superficial?

What you must realize is that you are in control of your own happiness. Sure, it’s easy to give up on the season and become relentlessly bitter in the comments section of ESPN. But it’s just as easy to take a deep breath through your mouth, slowly exhale through your nose and then sing along to Sweet Child of Mine in your best vintage Axl Rose voice. It’s the little things, after all, that remind us just how close happiness really is.

If this sounds like feel-good, derivative crap, you are probably still angry at what happened to #12 and not ready to let go. Give it some time, but don’t wait forever. Because procrastination is a tell-tale sign of weakness, and just one part of the reason you’re reading this blog and not living the sweet life in Southern California’s beautiful San Fernando Valley.

Hey. I don’t live the perfect life, nor do I pretend to be the perfect fan. But I’m not letting expectations of failure or success interfere with my happiness. If there’s one thing you can take away from this, it’s that if you never have any expectations, you will never be disappointed. 
Delusional? Inspired? You decide.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Packers 53 Man Roster Prediction

We don't usually get very analytical here at the Ranter, as there are plenty of people out there who think they know more than us, and even some that do know more than us. However, I thought it might be fun to step into Ted Thompson's New Balances and do one of those 53 man roster projections that everyone seems to have so much fun doing this time of year. I spent many, many....several minutes running through the roster, and the following is what I was able to arrive at. It's a fairly non-traditional roster make-up, but I think the personnel department at 1265 would be impressed.

"Franklin did a really good job with this roster." 


Quarterback (2) - Joe Callahan, Taysom Hill
Running Back (4) - Ty Montogomery, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, Devante Mays
Fullback (2) - Aaron Ripkoski, Joe Kerridge
Wide Receiver (5) - Jordy Nelson, DeAngelo Yancey, Malachai Dupre, Max McCaffrey, Michael Clark
Tight End (3) - Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Aaron Peck
Center (1) - Corey Linsley
Guard (5) - Lane Taylor, Jahri Evans, Kofi Amichia, Justin McCray, Lucas Patrick
Tackle (4) - David Bakhtiari, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, Robert Leff


Defensive Line (6) - Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, Ricky Jean Francois, Brian Price
Inside Linebackes (2) - Jordan Tripp, Cody Heiman
Outside Linebacker (5) - Jayrone Elliot, Kyler Fackrell, Vince Biegel, Reggie Gilbert, Jonathan Calvin
Safety (5) - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Josh Jones, Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans, Jermaine Whitehead
Cornerback (6) - Davon House, Kevin King, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins, Raysean Pringle, Donatello Brown
Special Teams (2) - Justin Vogel, Brett Goode

I know what you are thinking: this only adds up to 52 players. This is the result of the kicking vacancy that will need to be addressed before the first game. Not a big deal, in my opinion. Kickers are pretty easy to find.

What? That's not what you're thinking? Oh, I realize I forgot to clarify that this 53 man roster 52 man roster is based on the Packers' players who have not been cut, traded, or spit on when replacing Brett Favre/benched for a 5th round pick last season by fans.

Operating under these parameters, I think I pretty much nailed this roster. Enjoy...but, please, don't cut or trade anyone because I don't think I can do this exercise next year if you do.

Monday, August 7, 2017

But the Brats Wouldn't Come (A Song)

I went to Packers Family Night on 8/5/17. Before the game, I tried to get a brat at the Johnsonville tent for myself and my child. It took almost 45 minutes. I was not alone. 

Well they…

Musta not reckoned there’d be such a hunger
They were comin’ up empty but still taking orders

We chatted with one man who was buyin’ for four
And a single mom wranglin’ around even more

We had one thing in common – our desire to eat
But soon we were bonded in our heated speech

And everybody wanted some
But the brats wouldn’t come
And the dogs were all gone

It was starting to rain and there was lightning nearby
And I swear to this day, I saw a sweet child cry

Now, no one was blamin’ the man on the grill
But we all felt like cursin’ the Man on the hill

It’s a lesson you’d think was already taught
When you’re expectin’ an army you should plan for a lot

And everybody wanted some
But the brats wouldn’t come
And the dogs were all gone


Update: Johnsonville has heard my cries.

Update #2: The big winner - Paul's Pantry in Green Bay.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Packers Time Capsule

Do you enjoy trips down memory lane? Are you a sucker for wistful affections of the past?

I’m willing to bet somewhere in your unique abode there’s a collection of old senior photos in a plastic bin. Or maybe it’s that clay bowl you made in sophomore art class? What about that 2nd place finish award from the local spelling bee? That notebook filled with Great Gatsby notes and daydream doodles? And who could forget that awkward mixed tape of like Ace of Bass and Eric Clapton given to you 2nd semester by your one-and-only potential German foreign exchange sweetheart who always wore clogs, Annika Schumacher? (It was a nice gesture, Annika, thank you…always.)

Regardless of what you’re holding onto, to me, the best-kept nostalgic gems are the ones you forgot you had. Such was the case when my mom recently dropped off some boxes from yesteryear. Cynically, I expected to rummage through once and toss it all but a certain blue container gave me pause. “I remember that,” I thought. Inside, I found a small trove of Packers ticket stubs I once had pinned on corkboard in my room – 13 of them to be exact, including 3 playoff games, and as far back as 1986.
They belong in a museum!
Let’s see how I/we did…

Sun, September 7, 1986
Oilers @ Packers
First game of the season and the Packers are favored by 4 – whoo! And… 3-31 loss, ouch. Warren Moon throws for 2 TDs and rushes for another. Green Bay’s Randy Wright-led offense racks up just over 200 yards and time of possession is almost 2-1 in the Houston Oiler’s favor. I can’t remember a thing, thankfully.

Sun, September 13, 1987.
(LA) Raiders @ Packers
Another year, another opening game and optimism abound! And… we suck. No points, less than 200 yards offense, three picks from Randy Wright, Marcus Allen runs wild, etc. 20-0, Raiders. Don Bracken has almost 500 yards punting. That’s 500 yards punting, I said.
He set records that day I tell you!
Sun, September 16, 1990
Bears @ Packers
2nd game of the season on a nice, 54-degree day. As the Chicago Tribune reported, the Bears “intercepted two passes, forced six fumbles and recovered three, sacked quarterback Anthony Dilweg six times for losses of 39 yards and set up the offense for three touchdowns.” I’m guessing we left midway through the 3rd; not even going to tell you the score. P.S. If you had played the Bears fantasy defense that day, that’s like 30 points. Wow.

Sun, September 6, 1992
Vikings @ Packers
Kicking off the season once again, I finally see a good game on a warm, Fall day. Vince Workman lives up to his name with 25 carries and 14 receptions. Meanwhile, my favorite player at the time, the great Sterling Sharpe, adds 100 yards and a TD and we push it to OT. ALAS! The Faud "Clutch" Reveiz puts the game away with a field goal from 25 yards. 23-20, Vikings, and I’m now 0-4 in Packer games, feeling very much in the minor leagues of the NFL. (I think I had a brat; I most likely had a brat.)

Sun, October 31, 1993
Bears @ Packers
Halloween, ’93! Both teams were 3-3. It was the first year of being Brett Favre’s team and fans in good ol’ Green Bay, Wisconsin, were proud, new owners of the “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!” chant. In a word, we were ascending. The final score, 17-3 in favor of the Packers, might seem forgettable on paper but it was an actually an incredible game. Only up 10-3, the Packers were trying to hold off the Bears from rallying. Jim Harbaugh had just driven his team 70 yards to our 12-yard line, but Leroy Butler not only blitzed and knocked the ball out of Harbaugh’s hands, but he also recovered the fumble at the 37 of the Packers after a mad scramble. (#36 also had the game-ending interception.) On top of that excitement, the Minister of Defense passed Lawrence Taylor to become the all-time sacks leader in the history of the NFL. And I was there… (“Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!”)

Fri, August 26, 1994
Patriots @ Packers
Final preseason game. Packers 24-Patriots 20; I’m sure Doug Pederson was splendid.

Sat, August 19, 1995
Colts @ Packers
Colts 20-17 in the 3rd preseason game. Neat. (Bonus: Jim Harbaugh took the Colts to the AFC Championship that year. Seriously!)

Sun, October 22, 1995
Vikings @ Packers
We’re freaking good – our best start to the season since 1978. Sometime in the 4th quarter, the crowd receives an announcement they broke the Lambeau Field attendance record. As far as the game goes, Favre throws 4 TDs, we dominate the 2nd half and go on to win 38-21 – a quality victory that’s becoming the norm.

Sun, December 31, 1995
Falcons @ Packers
Green Bay finished the regular season 11-5 and now was playing in the wild-card game on New Year’s Eve (my first playoff game!). Atlanta (9-7) came in limping, having given up the most yards through the air in NFL history (a record the Packers broke in 2011, coincidentally.) On the strength of Antonio Freeman’s 76-yard punt return for a TD, things were essentially sealed at halftime. 37-20, Packers. Next up: San Francisco. Nice.
Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sun, December 1, 1996
Bears @ Packers
The Pack was seeking its sixth victory in a row against the Bears for the first time in almost 70 years. The so-called “rivalry” was fading quickly. Chicago simply could not cover Antonio Freeman that day, who had 10 catches for 156 yards. We also got a little foreshadowing of things to come with Desmond Howard returning a punt for a 75-yard TD.
Bonus! 1996 Jump in the Stands commercial – I bet you don’t remember this one.

Sun, December 22, 1996
Vikings @ Packers
Already 12-3, a win here would give Green Bay a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage. The 9-6 Vikings were also going to make the playoffs and hoping for a home game the following week. This was BIG, and did we come to play. On top of all the flat-out fun moments, I can recall the crowd being outstanding. Here, watch the game highlights for yourself.

Saturday, January 4, 1997
49ers @ Packers
Packers win, 35-14. Um… I honestly think this was a stub from a family member because I remember watching it on TV and enjoying that wintery slopfest with Edgar Bennett dominating in the rain. Next!

Sunday, January 12, 1997
Panthers @ Packers
NFC Championship. The first title game at Green Bay since the “Ice Bowl.” Just look at the emblem on the ticket above. Whoa.

It was beyond cold, like -20 wind chill or something. Walking into the stadium was the only thing keeping my group from freezing. Once inside, the constant energy of the crowd (and an early military jet flyover) kept me cheering and smiling more so than any other game in my life. As far as I could tell, the stadium was all Packer fans.

The Packers eventually won decisively, 30-13. Dorsey Levens became a hero. The celebration began with about a minute left in the game, with Reggie running a lap around the field and cheering with us all. It can’t get better than this, I thought at the time. 
As though I got it yesterday.
So, these are my memories. There may be many like them, but these are mine. As the risk of sounding old and crusty, I don't think I'll ever get swept up in quite the same euphoria as I did with those teams in the 90s. But we have a TON to look forward to again this year, as we basically have for the last 20+ years. Check out these expert recommendations to see how the Packers will do in the NFC this year. Their Over is set at 10.0, the exact amount of games they've won each season for the last two years. Let's see how they do.

PS. Almost forgot my 2nd place ribbon from the local spelling bee!
Knights of Columbus. Very prestigious.
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