I remember playoffs growing up. 7th grade. October. Crisp air. Coach Dewayne Butts.
We were having our last practice before the first round game at the home of our rival middle school. Nothing was abnormal about this particular practice, but what happened that afternoon really stood out to me. We were running 1st team defense, and I was supposed to blitz from my linebacker spot. Well, if there’s one thing everyone likes, it’s hitting QBs, especially when the guy running the scout team QB is a jerk. Well, I got a wide open hit, and it was a good one. I mean he got completely blindsided. I hopped up and trotted back to the huddle while he moaned on the ground, and his dad screamed from the bleachers about “illegal hit” or some such nonsense.
As I’m making my way back to the huddle, Coach Butts comes sprinting across the field and slaps my helmet so hard I almost dropped to the ground. He grabs my facemask and screams, “Now that’s a hit Frank! Way to put some extra STANK on it! You know what? I’m gonna call you Frank THE STANK from now on. OOOO-EEEE! Now’s when nicknames are earned, STANK, the playoffs! Get back in the huddle and do it again.”
As you can imagine, I took some heat in the huddle for that one, Frank The Stank, not being the most glamorous of nicknames. But what coach said stuck with me….no, not FRANK THE STANK. STOP CALLING ME THAT! Sorry, I spent a few hundred hours in therapy to get over that, and sometimes I regress…but seriously, don’t call me that. What stuck with me, is the part where Coach Butts said, this is when nicknames are given.
Since that’s the case, I thought I’d share with you a moniker that I find to be incredibly appropriate for a Packer who has a been a real boost to the Packers D-line and pass rush. I don’t know how you all feel about the movie, “The Great Outdoors”, but I find it to be some of John Candy’s finest work. Candy is a happy, go-lucky dad who just wants to spend a week in the Pechoggin, Wisconsin, with his family. And who doesn’t? Problem is, no one wants their brother-in-law, Roman, and his family to join them.
If you've ever been to Pechoggin, you know there's a restaurant called Paul Bunyan's there with a particularly famous menu item. A menu item that takes determination, preparation, inspiration and perspiration to consume, and this item bears a striking resemblance to Mike Neal. The former is 96 ounces of 100% prime, Grade A, American-raised beef, and the later is number 96, 100% prime Green Bay Beefcake. I mean seriously, look at this and look a this:
One is huge, and the other is huge.
I think you know where this is going. Mike Neal, it being the playoffs of the year 2000 and 13 of our Lombardi, and the time of year when nicknames are earned, I now dub thee, "The Old 96er". That should fit right in with "Big Grease" on the D-line.
Let's hope the The Old 96er gives Colin Kaepernick some debilitating indigestion today. Listen, if he can bring him down twice, I'll throw in some Paul Bunyan hats for the kids.