[Edit:] Note: my brother says the first game we saw might have been an earlier Packers/49ers game from 1996. He could be right because the only thing I remember for certain was that it was those two teams playing each other. [/Edit]
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many success stories regarding the teams that I follow. The Toronto Blue Jays last made the won the World Series (or made the playoffs) since before I moved here in 1995. The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a championship in 44 years and haven’t made the playoffs in 5 years. The Toronto Raptors had minor success making the playoffs 3 years in a row from 1999-2001 and twice in 2007 and ’08 but have struggled mightily the rest of the decade. The Green Bay Packers have won the division four times in the past nine years and made the playoffs seven times this decade but have not reached the championship game since 1997 (when they did back-to-back years). The last time the Green Bay Packers were in the Super Bowl, I was only 10 years old at the time and still had not started following football.
There is a funny story that goes with me and how I got introduced to the game of “football”. I moved here from Pakistan in the winter of 1995 and was just getting to know the western sports when I started school here in the 3rd grade. I went up to a new friend of mine and asked him if he wanted to play ‘futbol’ which I had known and meant as soccer as it is known here. The kid looked at me like I had three ears or two noses and probably thought why is this skinny, tooth pick of a kid wanting to play football? After spending all of recess trying to convince him that I knew and had played ‘futbol’ before, I gave up for the day. I did come to know the sport as soccer but I had forgotten about what the kid thought I meant when I said “football” – until 3 years later. I still chuckle to this day thinking what might have happened if I had played American football that day.
However, It wasn’t until the playoffs of 1998 when the Green Bay Packers were robbed of a playoff win against the San Francisco 49ers that I watched my first ever American Football game with my brother. That game had NFL legends like Brett Favre, Reggie White, Steve Young and Jerry Rice – not a bad time to catch your first game. Even though they lost, that was the defining moment where I became a Green and Gold fan for life and my brother took the 49ers. Neither of us has waivered since.
We have had a tradition going back many years of gathering up a whole bunch of family members and watching the big game together. I’m not certain how well that will be this year since I am north of the border but I’m guessing there’s got to be some pack of Cheeseheads here that want to watch the game. On a related note, I had scheduled a trip to Boston last year which happened to fall on this upcoming Super Bowl weekend. Initially I had no problem with it because my plane would land in downtown Toronto just in time for a “normal” kickoff time because I had thought it would be around 8:30PM but apparently they go with a much earlier kickoff time of 6:30 which I only noticed a couple of days ago. I will be making a friendly call to the wonderful people of Porter Airlines later today and hopefully get that switched up with the one that will get me here in time for the game.
Boy, do I wish I was back home – just for that weekend. I have got to schedule a trip home for the Super Bowl weekend if I am still here next year.
Pretty simple prediction for me – Indianapolis Colts in a rout over the New Orleans Saints. The score will probably be pretty high scoring but you never know in games of this magnitude with teams having 2 weeks to prepare for each other. Regardless, I’m gonna take a 35-21 win for Colts.
Let me know who you are taking and what the score will be. Perfect prediction may get something?
For a very long time, Brett Favre could do no wrong in the hearts and minds of Green Bay Packers fans all across the country. That probably all changed when he flipped and flopped on a decision whether to retire or to play another season with the Packers following the great 13-3 season in which they fell a game short of the Super Bowl. When he couldn’t make up his mind whether he could play another season and he retired, the Packers finally decided to invest in their future quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A lot of fans including myself were finally able to close the greatest and longest chapter in NFL history on the arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
Although the relationship between quarterback and the Cheeseheads faithful have been rocky ever since, it probably took an irreparable turn (at least for the near future) when he stepped onto the podium yesterday wearing a #4 Purple Jersey. One will continue to wonder how the Vikings fans will treat a guy who has beaten them year in and year out in their division — will they still root for him if he struggles early? Will they root for him if he does well but can’t beat the Packers or Bears? Clearly, anything short of a Super Bowl run this year will be a disappointment and there’s nothing more that I would like than to see Brett struggle in Minnesota.
Favre got what he wanted Tuesday. He got the team he craved, the salary he could live with and the NFC North Division he knows by heart. But the nanosecond he signed that two-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings was the nanosecond he burned the last few remaining wooden bridges between him and Packers fans. He became Fredo Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II” — the one who betrays the family. Packers fans became Michael Corleone, who tells his older brother, “Fredo, you’re nothing to me now.”
Fredo got popped on a fishing boat in the middle of Lake Tahoe. Favre could get his on national television in the middle of the Metrodome. Or he could lead the team with the league’s best running back and one of the league’s best defensive lines to Super Bowl XLIV. – Gene Wojciechowski (ESPN.com)
I am hopeful that one day I will get over what he did to the Packers franchise but don’t expect it anytime soon. Hopefully by the time he has finally retired for good and is up there in Canton giving his Hall of Fame speech, I will watch him as the great quarterback he was for all these years instead of the drama queen he had become in the late stages of his career – even if that stage began in his last few seasons with Green Bay.
I’ll post my NFL predictions for this season now and talk about a couple of things I think will crucial this upcoming season. A couple of things to look out for will be the age of the New England Patriots’ defense. No one expects them to run the table again in the regular season but people might be in for a surprise if their age finally catches up to them and they end up losing 4 or 5 games. Also, who knows how injured Tom Brady really is and how effective he’ll be in the early parts of the season?
In the NFC, Aaron Rodgers has been handed a wonderful team but a great receiving group and all he has to do is not try to be Brett Favre. If he can stick to the short passes and allow the receivers to do their work with YAC as they did last year along with the new found running game in Ryan Grant – the Packers could really repeat as one of the top two seeds in the conference. New York Giants on the other hand have lost two considerablely talented players on defense and will that blow be big enough to keep them out of the playoffs? I doubt it because their offense has matured well enough and Eli should be able to carry a team to a couple of wins just by himself this year.
In the playoffs, you can never count out Brett Favre and certainly he’s not done with the way he played last year. Cold weather will be not be an issue and just might be something to provide Jets’ fans with something to hope for. However, let’s all be realistic. The Jets went 4-12 last year and just making the playoffs this year will be a dramatic improvement so I doubt they advance much further even though I do have them winning a game in the post-season.
Is this the year that Tony Romo finally breaks through and stops choking in the clutch? I think so. Packers losing Favre drops their main threat to be #1 once again in the conference and they had all the opportunities in the world to beat the Giants last year in the Divisional Round and if Romo can control the ball, they would have at least been a game away from going to the Super Bowl. No reason to expect the same progress this year, if not a little bit more poise and potentially a couple more wins in the post-season.
Does a Manning win a Super Bowl this year as well? Well that would make it three years in a row with Peyton and his Colts beating the Bears in 2007 although the loss of Jeff Saturday in the early parts of the season can slow down their progress but probably not enough to keep them from winning the division yet again en route to the Super Bowl XLIII victory on February 1, 2009.