My Last Packers/Giants Blog--Honest, It Really Is
There are fans, and then, there are fans.
Pam from Sheboygan wrote an e-mail the other day, admitting she didn't hear what we'd said about Brett Favre and the Packers' NFC title game loss to the Giants but that she couldn't help responding anyway. She'd apparently been told Wisconsin's Morning News had been a little tough on the guys, and sent the kind of missive I occasionally get after a Green Bay loss--one of those "glass half full" observations that suggests we should take it easy on the Packers, that they're doing their best and trying their hardest. They usually include the question, "Haven't you ever made a mistake at work?" (Pam waited until the second paragraph) and wrapped up her note with this: "I highly doubt we would have ever made it to the Championship Game without Brett Favre. If you think we would have, then apparently you have more faith in Aaron Rogers than I have. I think as fans, we should be showing support, not criticism."
Pam's take is honest, heart-felt and very positive. She's not the kind of fan I am, but a fan nonetheless. Pam loves the Packers, and her support won't be shaken by a loss. Better than than some of the goofballs you hear on the sports talk radio stations, demanding the dismissal of everyone from G-M Ted Thompson to the equipment manager .
I wrote Pam back, and it proved to be therapeutic. I was able to sit back, relive the loss one more time, and deliver what I thought was a rather even-handed evaluation of the loss. Here are some excerpts (grab a coffee/beer/pillow, as I go on for quite a while):
It's my opinion that while many good things happened this season
with Brett Favre at quarterback, he did not have his best outing against
the Giants. He made no critical first half errors, although most of
his yards came on a single play--the touchdown pass to Donald Driver.
Favre's second half performance was noticeably off: not nearly as many
yards, and two VERY questionable throws: the
interception-turned-fumble-recovery (a pass that never should've been
thrown) and, of course, the last pass that turned into New York's
game-winning field goal. After reviewing the broadcast of the game,
it's clear he never looked at a receiver other than Driver even though
Ryan Grant was open in the flat. I'm not buying into the argument
that other wide receivers were open (you might have seen a
screen-capture e-mail being sent around that makes it look as though all
of them were in the clear, but it's well after he threw the ball).
Favre alone didn't lose the game, although I've always thought
quarterbacks get a disproportionate amount of credit and blame.
Favre can't be faulted for the Packers' inability to run the football or
lack of commitment to a ground game. He certainly can't be faulted
for the shoddy special teams play that allowed New York to start several
drives with outstanding field position. It's not Favre's fault that
the Green Bay defense had no answer to the Giants' two-heading rushing
And, most glaringly, he can't be blamed for the night-long
mismatch that saw New York's Plaxico Burress taking advantage of Packers
safety Al Harris. McCarthy didn't have his best night on the
sidelines, and I've heard others say they think he got out coached by
I don't think there's a Green Bay fan (or player that night on
the bench) who didn't believe with every fiber in their being that the
Packers were going to win once they won the overtime toss and put the
ball into Favre's hands. Despite being outplayed all night long,
the score was still 20-20 with a legendary quarterback poised to guide
his team to victory. In reality, there was nothing that had
happened that night to justify such optimism--the numbers show that the
Green Bay attack was, in a word, muted. Favre's mistake is magnified
by it's enormity--it IS the play that set the Giants up to win.
That's why overtime is called "sudden death": one miscue, and you're
And, most glaringly, he can't be blamed for the night-long
It's our job to have an opinion--even though WTMJ is the Packers
Flagship station, we're under no orders to sugarcoat or adopt the team
line. I'm also a lifelong fan who'd love nothing more than to see
Green Bay win--a victory that Sunday night would've meant a morning show
trip to Phoenix, so I had a little something riding on the outcome both
personally and professionally. I still can't believe they lost, and
believe the Packers are the better team.
It would probably serve some fans well if we came on the air in
the days that followed the loss and pumped sunshine about what a fine
season it had been, and gosh, aren't those a swell bunch of guys who
almost got Green Bay to the Super Bowl. That's not what we're hired
to do: win or lose, we are to examine the games amongst ourselves and
with those who play/cover/coach the team. People may not like the
conclusions, but to sit back and merely hand out hosannas is not what
most in our audience have come to expect. I think our observations
were fair, and far less strident that what you might hear on other
Wisconsin sports-talk stations. And, if you didn't like our
opinions, I certainly hope you didn't see Sunday's Milwaukee
Journal/Sentinel in which the paper's hallowed Packers beat writer
suggested that Favre might be gone next year in favor of Aaron Rogers.
Sorry I went on so long--I'm obviously passionate about the
Packers, heartbroken about the game, and protective of our product.
You seem like a good fan who loves the team and wants only the best for
Favre, who I've learned to love for who he is: a supremely talented
quarterback who sometimes takes unnecessary chances. You live with
the sword, and you die by it. I, too, make plenty of mistakes and
there are thousands of people out there willing and able to point them
out to me. I accept it as part of the job. I won't speak for
Brett, but I think the wisdom that comes with 17 years in the NFL has
him thinking pretty much the same way.
It was a fun, exciting ride for all involved--even us, on
Wisconsin's Morning News. One of the highlights of our extended
coverage and our time in Green Bay in the days before the game was the
chance we had to shake Brett's hand. It's a moment the fan in me
will never forget. I think one can be an avid supporter of a team,
and still be able to step back honestly and examine the warts, as well
as the rewards. I'm always suspect of the fan who isn't honest
enough to admit his/her team is flawless. Everyone can be beaten
(even the Patriots).
Packers fans know better than anyone just how hard it is to get
to the Super Bowl, much less win it. This season was a complete
surprise to virtually everyone--few, if any, thought the team would be
in the NFC Championship. That said, even the players will tell you
that you have to capitalize when such opportunities happen--Lord knows
when they'll present themselves again. When the chance is blown,
it's only right to see what went wrong and how it can be prevented if
and when the opportunity arrives again.
Thanks for putting up with my response, but I thought your note
deserved an honest and thorough answer. Please stay in touch, and Go
Newsradio 620 WTMJ
Thanks again, Pam, for the note and the chance to vent. Your e-mail proved to be therapeutic. I'm in a much better place now, and might even actually watch the Super Bowl Sunday.
But only because I'm a huge Tom Petty fan.