Monday, February 21, 2011

More Meaningful: the ’96 or ’10 SB Team?

This question was recently posed to myself and a group of Packer fans. It made for such great debate I decided to ask around. Here’s what they said…

Tough question. Initially, I'm tempted to say '96 because it ended decades of futility and put an historic franchise back on the map. But for me personally, 2010 feels more meaningful because I am older and able to have a greater appreciation for how rare a SB victory is. Additionally, that '96 team was stacked and had SB expectations the whole season. Last year's team came in with high expectations, but a lot of folks jumped ship midway through the season when the injuries piled up, so overcoming that adversity and surprising everyone made the run more memorable.
~David

I gotta go with 2010. The way they did it was impressive. People counted them out as late as December. Also, for the simple fact that there's so much info/connectedness to the team as a whole now.
~Marty

2010 all day. We went through growing pains with the release of Favre and the 3-4 defense. However, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy were strategic in their plans and brought us the trophy. Not to mention, you can't beat The Claymaker presenting A-Rod the Championship belt!
~Johnny Bigtime

I give it to 1996 by the slimmest of margins. That team was special across the board – I’d put them against any team in history. It was so satisfying to reach that point after years of bad teams and finally surpass the Cowboys (although we didn’t play them). I was at the NFC Championship game, too – best game ever I’ve ever been to in my life.
~Scooter

2010, definitely. It was much more of a Cinderella story, and there seemed to be more excitement being the underdog that kept defying the odds. The playoffs really started with the Patriots game in week 15, and even though that was a loss, it started the run of 7 nearly flawless games. What a ride!
~Gregg

Tough call, but 1996. I grew up watching some awful Packer teams in the 80s and early 90s, but it was the 1996 season that solidified the Packers into a Championship team. That title ended a long and frustrating drought of Packers championship football and propelled the Packers into a consistent playoff contender. But my vote goes for 2010 for the better championship gear - how awful were those New Orleans Super Bowl champs hats and shirts?
~Mark

2010 is the winner for me as it was a bit more unexpected with all the injuries that mounted. In ‘96 we built up to that greatness by finally getting past Dallas and making it to the Super Bowl. It was almost expected we were going to win it with our record, etc. 2011 was a year with more chaos, injuries, McCarthy bad clock management and calls, etc. Also to end my point we beat the Chicago Bears, in Soldier Field, to get to the Super Bowl and eventually win it! So we actually won the SuperBowl twice this year!!! Oh and by the way…12 is 3 times better than 4!
~Steven

'96 signified a monumental swing in the history of the Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre in his prime brought the Packers back to respectability, Reggie White showed people playing in Green Bay was not undesirable. It hadn't happened in over 3 decades. I was a freshman in college (in LaCrosse, Wisconsin) and watched it at maybe the best party I ever attended. An amazing experience.
~Alan

'10 means more to me for many reasons. First, doing things the right way pays off. Ted Thompson did things his way – the right way. A program. A Team. A discipline to not over react. A trust in a young, talented, high-character locker room. Honestly, vindication. They were right. The promise of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, a high-powered offense and dominant defense. The hope that the Packers can be that next great NFL dynasty. The belief there is no way it will be 13 years before they bring home number 15.
~Tony J.

There you have it – 5 to 4 in favor of the Packers most recent Championship. So who got it right and who's off their rocker? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Message to Green Bay & Brown County's Finest

I wanted to give a little heads up to the Green Bay Police and Brown County Sheriff's Department. I understand that you need to keep the peace and protect the citizens of Green Bay proper and the Brown County area, but I need to ask you a favor. (I'm being generous here by asking. I could just tell you.) I need you to turn the other way when patrolling the Green Bay street newly named, "McCarthy's Way". I'm not saying let every speeding mini-van or red-light running pickup with the naked lady mudflaps get off scott-free, but I am asking that when you see a 1977 T-Top Trans Am flying down McCarthy's Way, you look the other way and grab another donut or a giant piece of beef jerky.

Please?

Cool. Thanks.

You see, that t-topped, turbo-charged beauty is Mike McCarthy's new ride. Mark Murphy and muscle car enthusiast Ted Thompson gave Coach McCarthy this sweet ride as congratulatory gift after the Super Bowl. Why a 1977 Trans Am? Because as you can see above, 1) McCarthy looks damn good flashing the "Victory" sign in it and 2) his favorite actress is Sally Field, and who can blame him for that?

I appreciate your consideration on this matter. After all, if you have a street named after you, you should be able to enjoy it to the fullest extent, and I hope McCarthy does that....by whipping donuts and outrunning Staties.

PS - To the Green Bay City Council member who opposes this street re-naming as "frivolous spending", I ask that you think about how much money the Green Bay Packers contribute to your city's budget....I'll wait.

Yeaaaah, that's pretty frivolous too right?

Wait, are you a Favre fan? Oh, that explains it....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Displaced Fan’s Account of Super Bowl XLV

Last Sunday over 100,000 fans experienced one of the biggest and most-hyped Super Bowls of all time, live and in-person in Dallas. But for a comparatively unfortunate handful, Super Bowl Sunday turned a super nightmare. Such was the case for a personal friend of mine who made the journey to Dallas with his significant other. Here is what he told me of his experience of his first – and perhaps last – Super Bowl. We’ll call him Mark. (P.S. I know the Ranter isn’t exactly known for journalistic integrity, but I assure you this is a real account.)

Judging from the pictures he was texting me early that day, Mark seemed to be having a great time in Dallas despite the weather. He tells me that he and some friends got to the stadium several hours in advance to walk about the spectacle that is Jerry’s World. After a 25-minute trek through tents and security pat-downs, Mark stepped up to a ticket scanner. And that’s where things started going sour.

His tickets were coming up with a big invalid “X”. Not sure what was going on, Mark was told there might be an issue with the bar code and had to visit the ticket resolution center, a half-mile or more away. Slightly embarrassed and unsure, Mark began walking, trying not to get upset. After all, it was still hours until kickoff. When he arrived at the tent, it was clear he was not alone. There was already a massive line of people who all received the same rejection as Mark at the gate, and they appeared more than just annoyed.

“They were just pissed,” Mark said. “But nobody knew what was going on. We were eventually told our tickets were unusable. I was wondering if Ashton Kutcher was going to pop out and say I was Punk’d.”

Sometime after 3pm, Mark and the others were moved into an area called the Party Plaza, a fenced-in tailgate-style section without bathrooms. Apparently, there was food and drinks, but definitely not free. There, a frustrated Mark and hundreds like him were subject to more idle downtime while those in charge from afar seemingly tried to decide just what to do with the displaced herd of ticketholders without seats.

During the waiting, Mark met a variety of people, including a 91-year old man who had driven all the way down with his grandson to Dallas from Chicago. “We felt so bad for them. We were like, ‘this isn’t the end of the world for us.’ We just felt so bad. This wasn’t right at all.”

At this point (roughly around 4pm) with no reliable information coming, the agitation levels were peaking. People were chanting “Jerry sucks!” and one guy began screaming “class action law suit!” while violently shaking the face that held him in.

The crowd was finally told they were going to be let it. Mark and friend followed the crowd to whatever entrance they were being led. “I never felt like more of a reject in my life,” he said. When they got into the stadium, they tried to flag down anyone wearing an earpiece, thinking they might know what was going on. Without any real explanation so far, Mark was still hoping the situation would be resolved and he could get a seat. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Now, 45 minutes until kickoff, Mark and others were ushered into an elevator and led to a ground floor area called the Miller Lite Club, again wondering if he was being Punk’d.

“It was more like a holding pen,” Mark said. According to him, this area was actually about five feet below the playing surface, so that they could “only see legs.” Mark said they couldn’t see any of the game and were bunched together several deep, trying to make sense of the game on monitors that had a 40-second audio delay. “We strangely got used to that,” he said.

During the first quarter, these apology letters were handed out.

Sometime during the 2nd quarter, the displaced ticket-holders were then offered vouchers for free drinks. But shockingly, there was a catch – a tab maximum was placed so that twenty minutes and one free drink later, everything was back to normal price ($10 for a 12-ounce beer, he said.) In the 3rd quarter they were given sandwiches and a small buffet including mac ‘n cheese. People were standing in entryways three- and four-deep (apparently allowed) and doing whatever they could to catch a glimpse of live action.

“At this point, we just felt like a nuisance and a reject, like we were somehow ruining it for everyone else… We barely watched the game and saw nothing live at all. It was a complete disappointment. Kids were crying. Old ladies were crying. It was like, ‘this is it? This is what is comes down to?’”

In the 4th quarter, they were given what Mark refers to as a “Sorry Sack,” which included a t-shirt, hat and a program. There were rumblings they would be able to go onto the field after the game. An NFL representative eventually came around and apologized, exchanged emails with the displaced fans, and said they wanted to make it right.

One of the few highlights for Mark came after the game, roughly twenty minutes after the Lombardi trophy presentation when they were in fact allowed on field (in another gated-in area). “That was kind of neat. They were trying to make something right,” he said. He was able to take this picture of John Kuhn.

As I write this, Mark is waiting in the Dallas airport, disappointed from the experience and ready to return home. I give Mark a lot of credit for taking this as well as he has. There are certainly people who went through the same hassles and runaround – who got the same sporadic information and who effectively missed the Super Bowl they traveled to see – who are many times more livid than Mark.

I decided to ask Mark if there anything the NFL could do to make it up to him. He replied, “Yeah – not let it happen in the first place. This shouldn’t have happened. They knew about it. This is like being a kid and going to Disneyworld and finding out it it’s closed. We didn’t get to even see the Lombardi presentation. We could’ve seen this all at home, and been a lot more comfortable. It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience and a lot of people lost out on that. They could’ve let us shake every player’s hand, but they’re not going to fix the fact we missed the Packers win the Super Bowl.”

Update: Since this posting, an NFL representative has contacted me in hopes of reaching Mark to inform him of the new options as announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell. This offer, available to all of the 400 affected ticketholders, now includes a free ticket to a future Super Bowl of his choice, airfare and accommodations. Complete details can be found on NFL.com. While there will surely be several lessons learned from this experience, I applaud the NFL for trying to make things right. Though I cannot speak for him, I believe Mark will be satisfied.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fields of Green and Gold

These are a few random thoughts in no particular order.

*I am in a good mood. Not too overfed with the many sweet tastes of victory – still need to perform the daily functions of jerky tenderizing, managing the DVR and emailing news organizations regarding the under-reported groundswell of rabid, malicious squirrels in the area. I mean, they’re not even scared of us anymore! But I’m also not too stubborn to hide this perma-grin, either.

*There was little doubt in my mind this would be the biggest Super Bowl of all time. All the elements were in place. Huge, rabid fan bases. NFL stars galore. Storied franchises. A billion-dollar stadium. A million-and-one angles. Lockout on the horizon. Google. iPhone. Twitter. To my knowledge, this is the only event in history that could bring together the likes of A-Rod, Harry Ford, Fergie, Aaron Rodgers and Brian Carriveau.

*It is just so damn amazing what happened yesterday… last week… this whole season that I can’t wrap my head around it. I want to relive it all – preferably through a 3D virtual reality, multi-sensory adventure designed by James Cameron. (I will probably just buy Super Bowl XLV Champions DVD instead.)

*I just heard on Green and Gold that this could be the greatest year in Wisconsin sports history. Badger football in the Rose Bowl, Packers SB champs, Brewers may make the playoffs, etc. I find it funny (because it’s true) that the Lombardi trophy can compensate for shortcomings in the other teams.

*The Super Bowl ads were weak, again. I give a lot credit to the ad agencies for this – just how in the hell did you convince your client to spend millions of dollars on such uncreative, retreaded garbage? Next year, call the Ranter. We work for meat and cheese.

*Isn’t it amazing the way we neutralized Troy Polamalu and James Harrison? Polamalu was Defensive Player of the Year and Harrison finished third. They combined for a whopping four tackles and one sack. Folks, that is all about great game-planning and an amazing performance by Rodgers to read, react, avoid them, etc. SB MVP is right.

*I let myself down by not getting around to designing a poster like I did for the NFC Championship game. There were so many great compliments for that one. Make no mistake, it’s on my mind and something I am all but guaranteeing will happen soon. I am currently on the hunt for some inspiration, which will probably come in the form of medieval warrior or futuristic concept art. Be on the lookout!

*Congratulations to the Packers in every way possible. I literally like every single guy (to varying degrees) on the team, and am happy for them all. This was not only a team win, this was also an organizational win. This has class and dynasty written all over it. It's good to be a Packer fan.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Keep Yourself Busy Today

There's a saying that goes something like, idle hands are the Devil's....workshop?...playthings?....tools? Well, they're one of those things, or all of those. Either way, the gist of the statement is that idle hands are not good. They are especially not good on Super Bowl Eve Day. If you don't have a plan for how you are going to spend your day, you will most likely 1) find yourself getting into shenanigans and/or 2) going crazy with anticipation. It is best to keep busy today. Put together a to-do list, or have someone you trust put one together for you.  The following is my to-do list, maybe you can draw some inspiration to keep you out of trouble:

1) Make some breakfast. Normally, I'm a cereal guy. Get in, get out, get on with the day, but today, I thought it best to take some time and savor it. I'm putting together an omelet that would make Sheboygan, Tomah, and Hayward jealous. 8 eggs, 2 brats, a brick of aged cheddar, and enough peppers and onions to feed section 112 of Lambeau. Top it off with some hot sauce and kraut, and this should take me about an hour and a half to eat.

2) Watch Rambo on Spike? Hmmm...this new one intrigues me. I'll give it a few minutes.

3) Check out Aaron Nagler's Madden sim to get a feel for how the game will go tomorrow. Wow, looks like Aaron did some extensive sideline reporting from this game.  Green Bay 34 Pittsburgh 7? That's right, indeed.

4) Impatiently stare out the window waiting for FedEx to bring my Charles Woodson Super Bowl XLV shirt...time is running out NFL Shop. You. Won't. Like. Me. When. I'm. Angry.

5) Remove ice dams from roof. Owning a house is a full-time job. I need a vacation from it.

6) Shine my framed Greg Jennings autographed photo. You've got to look sharp for the big game, don't you Greg?

7) Grocery shopping. More brats. More kraut. More burgers. More ketchup. More mustard. More cheese. More avocado for more guac. More chips. More summer sausage. More veggies. More dip. More. More. More. MOAR!

8) Visit liquor store. You know, just to look.

9) See "True Grit". Rooster Cogburn abides, man.

10) Hit up a Saturday afternoon happy hour to calm the nerves that will for sure have built up despite my busy schedule. Ummm... I may need to rethink this item, it is getting dangerously close to getting back to those idle hands that caused this list to be created in the first place. It could have a calming affect, or it could be like throwing gasoline on fire. On the plus side, that fire could conceivably keep me warm right up until game time. I will proceed with caution here.

11) Make game prediction after intensive research and number crunching. Wait, I don't even need to do that, I know the score already. Packers 38, Steelers 0.7

...okay, I thought John Rambo killed a lot of scumbags in First Blood: I, II, and III, but I'm pretty sure I just watched him double his lifetime kill total. FYI - Life expectancy of Burmese soldiers is at an all time low.

12) ....

Wait, what the hell? There's a Rambo family ranch?!?! That just doesn't mesh with my mental image of John Rambo. This is really throwing me off. I'm going to have to put this list-making on hold for awhile and make a 5-alarm spicy bloody mary and contemplate this.

NO, FRANKLIN, STICK TO THE PLAN! STICK TO PLAN!


Damn, too late.

Go Pack!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Cut

There are flying bunnies everywhere. Cute, white, Cadbury bundles of joy with wings. I’m one of them, I think. The flock of us are flying in a natural V-shape formation somewhere, maybe South, maybe not. Up here in the warm, sundrenched sky, high above the rolling plains, I don’t really care – I’m just happy to be here with my friends. I look over to say hi to one of the bunnies and this one suddenly has red, glowing eyes. He hisses at me, exposing vampire-like fangs and I freak out. The thought of falling enters my mind and I begin my descent. Like an airplane with a dead propeller, I gradually come closer to the Earth until I crash land into a sweet budding mulberry bush that never hurt anyone.

And wake up face-first on the linoleum next to an open can of Bush beans, as hung-over as I’ve ever been in my life and smelling like a special rotting blend of tuna and turpentine.

That was six months ago – and the last time I got together with my former fourth-grade girlfriend, Kristy. Now a welder by trade with a penchant for Jagermeister and crushing beer cans between her boobs, Kristy is proud to be “just like one of the guys.” She is loud, obnoxious, crazy, temperamental and fun to be around – I’ve often thought she’d be a great subject for a reality show or documentary.

I had run into her at Anduzzi’s previously the night in question. After receiving one of her trademark bear hugs and friendly butt grabs, we played bar dice and caught up a little. She said was apparently fired for crushing cans at work (read: betwixt her hooters) the week prior and was freelance welding in the Neenah/Menasha area. I felt bad so I bought her a shot of Jager. She returned the favor. And so on, and so on, until the events that transpired could only be strung together through flashbacks, eyewitnesses and text messages.

I hadn’t intended to get sloppy drunk that night. In fact, I was only stopping by Anduzzi’s because I heard the trophies had come in for their 6th Annual Peg ‘N Keg Cribbage Tournament. I was merely going to scope them out and then go home and watch reruns of either the X-Files or Arrested Development. That’s simply what happens when you get together with Kristy. She recently left me a voicemail.

“Yo, Robbie! What’s up man, it’s Kristy. You recovered yet from that night? Hahahaha! I’ve never seen a grown man puke in a bathtub like that before. Anyway, whad-dar-you-doing for the Super Bowl besides watching the Pack kick the sh!t outta the Steelers? Let’s party! Give me a call.”

I don't think of myself as a popular person, but I do have a few options for the Super Bowl on Sunday. As it gets closer, a decision will have to get made. For the aforementioned reasons, the first to get cut will most definitely have to be Kristy. While watching the Super Bowl with Kristy would undoubtedly be a night of wild craziness fit for the Youtubes, this is one evening that I want to savor and cherish and remember the next day.

Sorry Kristy - you're out/fired. Always, R.G. P.S. Don't beat me up next time you see me please.
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