Giving the Packers the Shirt Off My Back
Well, that was a long way to drive to see the Packers immolate themselves.
As I mentioned in my last post, my buddy Gooch came up with a ticket for me for tonight's big Packers-Cowboys game. And thus, it was required that I drop everything and make the trek up to Lambeau to watch this clash of previously undefeated teams. I even got myself a fancy new Greg Jennings jersey for the occasion - for reasons I spelled out here. I actually didn't realize how it feels to pick a player and wear his jersey - it almost feels like you're investing in him like a stock. Before, I just had a Favre jersey, which everyone had. But when you pick someone other than the big star, you're sticking your neck out a little. So every time Jennings made a catch, I felt a little bit of pride - like somehow, I had a small hand in his success. In fact, I think he should send me a small portion of his paycheck as a thank you. Or some of the naked pictures women send him of themselves. Either one works, really.
As it turns out, my post inviting people I knew to invite me to their tailgates paid off. As soon as Gooch and I parked, I got a couple text messages from people inviting me to their cookouts. So I thought I had some options. Unfortunately, the text messages I got all happened to be from people that were standing next to each other at the time they sent them to me. So there really was just one - my friends Michael and Adam, who decided to set up shop behind the KMart on Lombardi Ave.
So we hung out there for a while, had a beer, and jersey watched. Really, the most fun of a Packer pre-game is picking out the random jerseys people have, and trying to wonder what in the world was going through their head when they bought them. Among the winners of "most random jersey:" Travis Jervey, Terrell Buckley, Derrick Mayes, Jim McMahon. One guy actually had a number 12 jersey with the name "Uno Dos" on the back, which was a clever play on Chad Johnson's "Ocho Cinco" schtick. Not as entertaining were the various Jessica Simpson costumes meant to ridicule Tony Romo. As soon as any of these guys can pull a babe under two Franklins, then they can taunt someone dating Jessica Simpson.
One phenomenon we noticed that still puzzles me is the guy who buys a Brett Favre Jets jersey and wears it to the Packer game. What exactly is this supposed to signify? You like Brett more than the Packers? You have too much money? Is it some form of protest against Packers management for giving Favre the boot? If it does officially qualify as a protest, let me know, as I would be happy to tear gas these people.
Only slightly less obnoxious are the people who, for whatever reason, wear jerseys of other teams not involved in the game to a Packer game. For instance, a couple of years I went to a Packer-Saints game at Lambeau, and there were four or five guys there wearing Vikings jerseys. The only reason to do this is to be unnecessarily provocative. Anyone who hits one of these jerkoffs in the head with a cheesy grillwurst is a hero in my book.
One of the biggest benefits to going to the game in person is that you don't have to listen to the national announcers. During the Vikings game, I couldn't last a full quarter listening to Tony Kornheiser (who I normally love) compare everything Aaron Rodgers did to Favre. It was sickening - especially when he kept saying Packer fans are going to compare every throw Rodgers makes to Cheddar Jesus. Actually, believe it or not, we're not mouth breathing yokels, and we do actually recognize that Aaron Rodgers is a different human being than Favre. And we do actually know it might take more than a couple games for Rodgers to match the greatest statistical quarterback in the history of the league. But the national announcers are so intent on beating the public over the head repeatedly with "the big story" of the game that it becomes unlistenable. That's why I loves me some Wayne Larrivee. Just the facts.
(It's a good thing Kornheiser and Madden don't follow Rodgers around in his everyday life. Then you'd hear things like: "Did you see how Rodgers got tanked and banged those three Denny's waitresses at once? It was just like Favre would have done it.")
Speaking of Favre, there are still signs that litter the stadium that spell his name "Farve." Honest to God, people - if you can't spell his name after 17 years, you might as well give up. I know more than a decade ago, the state legislature had a big debate about the high school graduation test. I propose the following: Get everyone in a room, and ask them if they can spell "Favre." If they can't, they are clearly incapable of learning anything. We should then ship these people out to their own city where they can't make the rest of us any dumber. (I believe Illinois has such a place, which they call "Joliet.")
Over by where we were sitting, there were three girls wearing bikini tops. Now, I'm not sure if these are the now-famous "bikini girls" who gained notoriety during the playoffs. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if copycat bikini girls have cropped up around Lambeau. However, what I do know is that these young ladies probably wouldn't be referred to as "the situp girls" anytime soon.
As for the game itself, I actually thought the Packers played relatively well. It wasn't much to watch, as both teams kind of plodded along - until a missed Charles Woodson tackle led to a long Felix Jones touchdown run, Miles Austin caught a long pass, then another at the end of the game to seal it. Other than those three big plays, the Packers played them even up. And, for the record, Tony Romo is amazing - from our vantage point, you could see the same thing he was looking at when he threw the ball. And in a few cases, it didn't look like anything was there - but he made some great throws.
After the game, I dropped the Gooch off at the Oneida Casino. Not wanting to make the night any worse (and make a donation to the Doyle for Governor campaign), I decided against gambling at the casino. Instead, I headed over to Taco Bell and loaded up on tacos for the two-and-a-half hour ride home. But just as I pulled on to the highway, I realized I was about to spill taco juice all over my sweet new jersey. So I actually took my shirt off and drove a big chunk of the way home shirtless. I was thinking it would be kind of embarrassing to get pulled over speeding while not wearing a shirt. But the more I thought about it, it would be more embarrassing to be pulled over by a carload of cheerleaders. If that happened, I might have run my car into ongoing traffic just to spare myself the shame. But then, the cheerleaders could have a car wash benefit in honor of my memory. So everyone wins. (It was a long ride home.)
But the more I thought about the shirtless driving experience, the more I came to terms with it. I mean, seriously - driving shirtless through central Wisconsin at midnight, while trying to listen to Packers postgame on a crackling radio with barely any reception is really what life is made of. I'd recommend it to anyone.
Random drive home notes: Just when I thought I had accidentally left the corpse of a dead, rotting hooker in my trunk, I realized I was in Kaukauna, and that's how the city smells. That was a relief.
(When I one day run my inevitable campaign for Governor, my first memo to my staff will include the line "better forget about picking up votes in Kaukauna.")
Also, I can't tell you how happy I am that the City of Columbus actually has a Christopher Columbus museum. Who can forget the day that the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria washed up near the intersection of highways 60 and 151 in central Wisconsin? It was a miracle.
Here's a video of the player introductions from where I was sitting: