Saturday, November 5, 2011

Packer Fandom

It’s football season. Wisconsinites are crazy about the Packers. The Packers are the religion of Wisconsin. I like the Packers, even though I think professional football is ritualized violence. Our Super Bowl champion gladiators are very popular.

Packer fans are loyal. It’s impossible to get a season ticket for home games. Lambeau Field is always filled, and the fans stay until the end even when the team loses. The traffic jams in and on highways leading to Green Bay on game day are enormous, except during the game when no one is to be seen on the roads. I have heard that area churches rent parking spaces to handle the stadium’s overflow crowds. People without tickets sit at home and in the bars, huddled in front of their television sets and radios.

At this time of the year,  stores abound with Packer merchandise; a few days ago I had no trouble finding a team keychain. Even the babies are decked out in Packer clothes. People of all ages go about their business wearing shirts with their favorite players’ numbers; quarterback numbers are best sellers.  I’m still waiting for merchandisers to bring forth a Packer toilet seat; they haven’t done it yet as far as I know, even or especially during losing seasons. I have seen Packer crying towels.

Broadcasters love the Packers, and I think the Packers love sportscasters. When Rick was in radio broadcasting, the team gave him a free spot in the press box with plenty of food, a seat for me where everyone else sat, a golf outing, other public relations events, and plenty of interviews. Vince Lombardi kicked Rick out of the dressing room, which meant he was one of them. I still have Rick’s press credentials for the Ice Bowl. He went; I didn’t have a seat for that one. I have heard that broadcasters no longer receive free seats for their loved ones, but I am sure that the Packers continue to romance the media. In return, we hear about the Packers 365 days a year in Green Bay, and almost as often in Madison, on our local television stations. (We have the Badgers in Madison to talk about, too.)

Bret Favre took the team to the Super Bowl; everyone loved him until he decided to retire, which became an annual event for him. When he unretired and became a Minnesota Viking, Wisconsin’s ire overflowed. He became another Benedict Arnold. (Read your history book to learn about Benedict Arnold; he wasn’t a football player.) The formerly beloved Favre took some much publicized sexual missteps, and his popularity among fans disappeared. No more annual retirements for him.

How soon we almost forget. Now Aaron Rodgers is the hero, along with the long haired Clay Matthews. News media reported recently that some people want to name a Green Bay street for coach McCarthy.

We’ll have another game in our winning season Sunday. Be sure to tune in.

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