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.

3 comments:

  1. A_Lerxst_in_PackerlandAugust 1, 2017 at 11:23 AM

    I'm still trying to wrap my brain around 500 yards of punting...in a single game.

    "Impressive...most impressive!"

    Also, that commercial is a riot.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A_Lerxst_in_PackerlandAugust 1, 2017 at 11:24 AM

    Oh, yeah, love the ribbon. Nice touch!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, Lerxst. Once you've wrapped your brain around that, let me know. I still haven't!

    ReplyDelete

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