Sailing the Sea of Cheese: Welcome to Wonderland
[Ed. Note: Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the PocketDoppler.com family into the fold, Ceallaigh (Kelly). Many of you may already know Kelly from her commenting here as well as on Twitter. We're very happy to have her as part of our growing group and it also solidifies PocketDoppler.com's position as having the most female sports bloggers of any site in the Wisconsin sports blogosphere! Gonna have to remember to start leaving the seat down around here. -Wally]
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
—Morpheus, The Matrix
Still reeling from my trip to Dallas at the beginning of February (still amazed I was able to convince my husband to actually go! And for the record, no, I was in one of those infamous auxiliary seats, but I didn’t have to watch the game from some undisclosed basement bunker where some were herded.) No need to summarize or wax nostalgic, though it is much more fun than paying off the credit card bill last week for the whole trip.
By now everyone knows the story. The Lombardi Trophy returned home, as it should be. The Blue Collar Bowl was one for the ages, a nail biter until the very end. Aaron Rodgers was named the Super Bowl MVP, won a red schmancy convertible, declared he’s going to Disney and joined the greats of NFL lore that we’ll one day reminisce about with our grandkids. And in that one game he also proved he’s not a groundhog and doesn’t really care about anyone’s shadow, no matter how big. For that matter, spring is finally coming despite that one named Phil’s prediction it was supposed to be here a few weeks ago.
The quarterback that was told no, you’re not good enough at every turn of his career is now King of the Super Bowl World. Pretty great story of little guy makes it big, don’t you think?
Well, if I’m going to be joining the blogosphere here at Pocket Doppler, this is where I need to make a very public apology before I get going.
Back in 2008 I was one of those nonbelievers. In fact, I was pretty damn harsh. Most of my criticism will never see the light of day and will be squirreled away in a personal blog that is locked down tighter than Fort Knox. Needless to say, I was neither happy with Ted Thompson nor his decision to end the final edition of As the Favre Turns and invest in the future of the team, not its past. Yes, at one time I blasted Thompson for playing Russian Roulette with an Untested Quarterback, whom I was convinced was an injury magnet that would end up on the Injured Reserve list with a paper cut. Heck, I was bold (more like obnoxious) enough to predict that the Packers would go 4-12 in 2008.
While I was pretty close predicting the outcome of the season (they were 6-10 if you want to walk down memory lane), I could not be any more wrong about everything else. This is definitely one of those moments I love to have been proven wrong.
Aaron, I am sorry. For not having faith in your abilities, for passing judgment before you even had a chance to prove yourself. For thinking you were an injury magnet. For looking backward and not forward. Thank you for proving me wrong. Thank you for choosing the red pill when I was ready to swallow the blue one.
So let’s get back to the concept of choice. You can’t be the It quarterback on a meteoric rise and be dubbed a lightweight at the last time. You either lower the shoulder and go for the kill or you play it safe and slide for a handful of yards. You believe the hype or you rise above. At every turn, it appears that Rodgers has chosen the red pill and opted for the trip down the proverbial rabbit hole instead of reveling in mediocrity. And with the deck that had been dealt him by the media, it’s amazing he never once chose to pack it in and settle with what destiny others wanted to give him. From the scrawny high school senior that colleges passed over, to the college kid that went into a tailspin on draft day before a career could even start, to that huge shadow at Lambeau that many thought he could never step out from, it seemed like people were more than ready to make that choice for him.
In a way, it summed up the Packers in 2010.
The Packers could have listened to the pundits that declared that the fork had been stuck in them and they were done. (Jimmie, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you. I have a delightful plate of crow I’d like to serve with a steaming side of Eat My Shorts!) I remember sitting in a hotel room in Washington, DC watching painful highlights of the December game against the Lions with a constellation of bad: trapped after a cancelled flight, a sick husband, a quarterback knocked silly in Michigan and every announcer declaring that the season was all but over. With that combination, it was hard not to believe the so-called experts. Everything sucked that day.
Luckily the Packers made a different choice. They were either a team crippled by injury compounded upon injury or they dug deep to find talent in a bunch of guys that other teams wouldn’t give the time of day. They could either hoist Vince over their heads in victory, or they could watch the game from a couch after packing it in after Christmas.
And as we head into lock-out territory and fans everywhere start picking sides and assuming crash positions, it looks like the owners and players alike are now faced with a new set of choices. They can pick that blue pill and settle for the petulance from both owners and players alike, where both parties can mark their territory until the cows come home, where college kids are denied their celebratory walk up the stage when they are drafted, where name calling is what is remembered at the end of the day.
There’s part of me that wants to hand both sides a folding chair, lock them in a room and let them smack it out until they come to an agreement that both sides can, at the bare minimum, tolerate. While I’m at it, can I also request that the words slave, holocaust, crusade and/or nazi be stricken from everyday vocabulary and be reserved for the actual historical events they describe and not some grandstanding?
As for you, all thirty-one owners and Mark Murphy, I don’t care if you promise to refund me the cost of my tickets plus interest for any missed games this season. Get your act together and bang out a deal so the season starts on time. The interest in this market will be a handful of pennies at best, as if that was some crummy consolation prize. The season, on the other hand, is worth so much more.
I mean, seriously, our Packers just won the Super Bowl. In any other year, I would be riding that high until opening weekend in September. But this year? The alternative this off-season is a sad little caricature of the league. Sniping on both sides, name-calling, and both factions taking their toys and heading home. Really? In the year the Lombardi Trophy came home we get this? If the Red Pill contains images of Rodgers hoisting the trophy over his head and Diyral Briggs crying that they’re champions of the world, then what does the Blue pill give us we get if we settle for mediocrity? An unimpressive text message of middle-aged failure?
Or both sides can man up and collectively swallow that red pill and dive into that rabbit hole once again and work together to bring the 2011 to life. Quite frankly I want to keep the momentum going. I too want to jump down that rabbit hole to go all the way from 1265 Lombardi Avenue to Indianapolis.