Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Date with a Bears Fan

A couple weeks ago, I opened the cyber door to my dating life. Things had been on the slower end and my normally golden charm at the bars was being met with rudeness and complete ignorance (as in I was being ignored completely). I will admit that maybe I was reaching by frequenting St. Norbert’s and UWGB bars, but it feels like yesterday that I was right in the mix with the twenty-somethings. (Just when did I become so uncool?) Little did I realize that there were thousands of singles in the greater Green Bay area alone who shared my frustrations with today’s scene. Enter the world of internet dating.

Within a week of posting my profile, I had already gotten almost 100 views (chicks still dig the hair!), several questions and even an invitation to play some sort of real-life Dungeons & Dragons in Oshkosh (do I look like I play D&D…wtf!). Despite some lame inquiries and casual interest, I still hadn’t gotten that mutual agreement to meet. That is, until Connie contacted me.

Connie is a 36-year old Taurus with a passion for cooking and a penchant for movies starring Jason Statham. And oh yeah – she’s a diehard fan of the Chicago Bears. Normally I would’ve discarded the email like an empty beer can but Connie was actually pretty smokin’ and the readers unanimously voted that I should give it a shot anyway (amazing response people, thanks). So I bit my lip, traded my Carhartt’s for Dockers and met her and a couple of her friends for dinner to be followed by Death Race on Blu-ray.

During the days leading up to the date, I constantly wavered between how I would react to the first mention of Chicago or some snide comment toward Brett Favre. My Packer pride runs deeper than most oceans so there would definitely be the possibility of a reaction somewhere between agitated and outraged. I decided to challenge myself by not bringing up football lest football be brought up. If it was mentioned, I would sternly yet calmly announce my unwavering allegiance to the greatest organization man has ever known, the Green Bay Packers. This would clearly establish my zealous nature and hopefully deter any negative Packer/positive Bear comments and thus the conversation/date from getting ugly.

Thankfully, it never got to that point. In between the salad, the meatloaf, the high school stories, the impressions of Balki from Perfect Strangers (don’t ask) and Mad Max-like car races, neither the Packers nor the Bears ever came up. Connie was really outgoing and friendly, and she seemed genuinely interested in my theory of comparing high school to the real world and how it’s between the Rock and Vin Diesel as to who’s today’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the end, we hugged and agreed to go out again. “A sportsbar” was decided. This could get interesting…

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Positively Lombardi Avenue

My biggest problem with the internet is that is gives everyone a voice. Now bear with me here because that statement has a huge fundamental flaw. Let me clarify, my biggest problem with the internet is that it gives every unintelligent, humorless, unattractive person a voice. You may also see a flaw with that statement, but just look at the picture to your left and you will be corrected. There are voices yammering over every imaginable issue, but I’m confining my editorial to the Packers and those who are sharing their thoughts on them. I’m even limiting this in scope, it’s not the blogs or news sites….it’s the “Comments” sections of these sites. For example, my favorite from yesterday:

Need MAY play a part? Bafoon.

Of course there’s the obligatory:

“Your an idiot” Truly.

Seriously, it’s like the Simpson Dumbening out there.

The anger and idiocy that is festering in these comments sections is appalling. I mean aren’t we all, in the grand scheme of things, on the same side? I guess not.

Criticizing, complimenting, or commenting on things in the past was done in such a more thoughtful and classy manner. In the 20th Century, editorial sections of newspapers were full of thoughtful opinions. Then in 1965 Bob Dylan knocked public criticism out of the park when he recorded Positively Fourth Street. Dylan slammed those who had criticized his gradual shift from folk to rock and roll. Seriously, listen to the song again…talk about being harsh. Despite ripping his detractors, he was eloquent and made it easy to listen to, it hit #7 on the Billboard Charts. There is a lesson to be learned from the greatest songwriter ever here, one that I can learn from as well. If you’re going to make a comment about the Packers, or a member of the team, think about if first. Add a fact or stat to your scathing commentary, or make it funny….but at the very least check the spelling. We all have opinions, but people are more likely to listen to you if you have some semblance of intelligence, a catchy tune….or good looks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Check It Out - We Can Talk!

“Say something,” Mike said.
“OK. Something!” Ted replied. Both men laughed as they played with their new Nokia headsets.

“Ok clever guy. Now say, ‘I think Mike McCarthy is a pimp,” Mike said.
“I think… Ted Thompson is a pimp,” Ted responded, barely able to keep a straight face.
“Cheater!” Mike replied, also on the verge of losing it.

This playful banter apparently continued for a good 20 minutes before the official “Meet the Staff: The Men Behind The Jockstraps” session began. But why not? It’s been all work for two of the biggest faces of the organization this Packer offseason, so it was fitting they got a chance to goof around during a time when human cheddar wheel outfits, green and gold body paint and Leinenkugels flow like Boone’s Farm.

Of course, I’m talking about Fan Fest 2009. Though this Ranter was stuck delivering pizzas Sunday (weekends = $$$ for drivers), I did drive by Lambeau 3-4 times to catch a glimpse of the fun. Also, I wasn’t too concerned because I know like 6 people who went – each of whom I promised a ‘Large 1-topping’ voucher if they emailed me all the juicy details.

So far, only one responded: Tanker, my roommate at wrestling camp in ’87 at UW Stevens Point. Now, Tanker’s got a huge melon (and body to go with it), but as we all know, that doesn’t always translate to a huge IQ (otherwise, blue whales and cows would be geniuses), so most of the information I get has to be taken with a grain of salt. But, he usually comes through in the end. For instance, he told me that McCarthy wore a purple and teal suit. Sound weird, I know, but turns out to be legit. Just look at the picture.

That was pretty sweet gossip, but it gets even better. After Fan Fest, Tanker wound up at Anduzzi’s where Ted Thompson and some other suits (not nec. purple/teal) were gnawing on wings. Tanker tells me that he overheard Thompson, rather tipsy off whiskey/diets, say, “We need bush.” Take that for whatever it’s worth, but isn’t it rather interesting that the Packers officially signed CB Jarrett Bush to a 3-year deal Monday? Hmmm? Thanks for the scoop, Tanker. It's good to have guys like you on the front lines.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Packer Family Spectrum

At first glance, it would seem that the Packer family is firmly entrenched in two camps, much like the Hatfields and McCoys. Fussin' and a feudin' over one, Theodore Thompson. One side believes he is the Devil incarnate, sent to banish the Packers to season after season of filth and despair. The other side believes he is a man worthy of worship and unquestioning loyalty, and questioning his judgment is sacrilege against the holiest of holies, Lord Lambeau. This is a convenient way of labelling your extended Packer family. I, however, after careful deliberation have devised a more exacting spectrum of the Packer family. This spectrum is a seven-member family, and since most well-run families are matriarchal, it is capped on both ends by strong, opinionated sisters: Great Aunt Florence and Grandma Beatrice.

  1. Great Aunt Flo - There has never been anything that has ever made Flo happy. "You didn't buy anything?" "You bought too much." "Why did you get that? It's junk." Pretty much sums up how one extreme side of fans feel about the TT-run Packers. Nothing will be good enough until he is gone, they would rather lose than have him be GM, much like Flo would rather be miserable than not.

  2. Cousin Kelly - Unfortunately, Kelly has low self-esteem and to counteract that, she tends to sleep with any guy she meets. She tries to keep up with her boarding school classmates from out East, sometimes she gets a date, but not two. Cousin Kelly is like the Packer fans who want to spend every last dollar on the new free agent class, getting new players just makes them feel better about themselves even for a short time.

  3. Dad - Dad is fiscally responsible and sees no need to go out and buy new tools when the ones he has are working fine... and are cheaper. But he just can't figure out young people nowadays and why you would ever rely on them to do anything. Dad is the Packer fan who sees no need to overpay free agents, but he can't get over how damn young the team is, and he is utterly fixated on Justin Harrell. He will never let it go.

  4. Cool Uncle Phil - Uncle Phil is the guy you always look forward to seeing at the Family Reunion. He's easy to talk to and can relate to pretty much everybody. Give him a beer and he'll talk Packers for days. Uncle Phil is the Packer fan who never gets too high or too low, he can understand each argument and tactfully present a counterpoint without resorting to petty insults.

  5. Younger brother - The younger brother is a sixth year senior at UW, but it's alright. He plays bass in a jam band and gotten busted for possession twice, but it's alright. Classes and his thesis are going alright. Bro' is the Packer fan who is pretty sure things are going alright, he's not in any hurry and he thinks the best things are yet to come. A late night jam session can bring out the contemplative side, like what if we would have gotten Moss? But he forgets about it soon enough. It's alright.

  6. Grandpa Ernie - Grandpa Ernie is a product of the Great Depression and veteran of WWII. He believes in saving money and not being frivolous. He also believes in leading through strict discipline, that's how his Sergeant did it and Lombardi too, he should know he watched him. Grandpa Ernie is the Packer fan who believes in sticking to your guns, once you make a choice you stick to it, you don't overpay anyone and run a tight ship. A certain veteran leader would have been nice for Ernie, but no one is bigger than the platoon.

  7. Grandma Beatrice - There has never been a happier woman than Grandma Beatrice. She is cheerful and unflappable, even in the face of disaster like a burnt turkey at Thanksgiving or a season-ending injury. "We'll just order Chinese." or "It'll give the backup a chance to shine." Beatrice is the Packer fan who supports the team no matter what. The TT-run Packers are doing great and making all the right moves. "The best thing about 6-10 is we can improve next year."

All Packer fans fit somewhere into this spectrum, where are you?

Update: I had a few fingers of The Glenlivet (really any Glen'll do) while writing this, so I had to change a few typos. I also forgot to mention please, please use this to label any and all members of the Packer family, even if you have to call them a mutant cross between Cousin Kelly and Grandpa Ern.

Monday, March 2, 2009

When did you say this plan goes into effect?

So long, Colin Cole.

Good luck, Chris Canty.

In the challenge to put together the pieces for the new 3-4 defensive scheme, the Packers may not be losing ground, but they’re definitely not gaining any either. According to Thompson, “We try to build our team so that we have a front-line group, but at the same time we want sustainability during the course of a season.” Sounds like a nice plan. Let’s see how we’re doing. Front-line: Thin. Backups: Thin. Hmmm…

Thompson’s undoubtedly looking at several role players with little or no flair. Like Igor Olshansky from the Chargers, for instance, a guy the Journal Sentinel describes as a “sufficient starter or backup.” I’ve accepted the fact we’re probably not going to be getting Pro Bowlers, but doesn’t that description remind you of a player like Jon Kitna... sufficient for the Lions, but a backup anywhere else? At this point, we’re gonna need about three Jon Kitnas, two Igor Olshankskys along with a couple Yakov Smirnovs for some laughs while we wait.

This wait-and-see approach just feels like waiting for the wind to burn the coals hot enough to restart the fire. I’m just afraid this strategy may be more along of the lines of playing your lucky numbers instead of playing like you have a hand.
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