Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bears’

Packer Pathos

November 30, 2013

Friday November 29th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

The Green Bay Packers are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory, and I find it to be a fascinating case study in human behavior whether someone is a football fan or not. They are completely unraveling as the season goes on, and have slid from heroes to bums in a few weeks.

It all started when their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a fractured clavicle on November 4th in a game against the archrival Chicago Bears. It didn’t appear to be that violent of a hit, and fans weren’t in a panic assuming the usually durable Rodgers would bounce right back.

Then in the next game against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 10th, backup quarterback Seneca Wallace went down in the first quarter with a groin injury. Again, it didn’t look to be that bad but he too was out of commission. That brought in Scott Tolzien, a third stringer that played in college at Wisconsin so a lot of Packer fans were familiar with him. He performed admirably.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to win either of the two games he started, and the spoiled fans of the Packers who have been one of the elite teams in the NFL since the early ‘90s were starting to grumble from within. An entire generation of fans has grown up assuming the Pack would win.

Last week they blew a golden opportunity to beat their most bitter rival of the last twenty years the Minnesota Vikings. They are having a horrific year themselves, but no Packer fan alive feels the slightest bit of sympathy for them. They’ve also had a great run, and when I was a kid they’d traditionally thump the Pack twice a year. Any day the Packers beat the Viqueens is a great day.

Too bad it wasn’t this particular day, as the best they could muster was a tie. They had a shot to win it in overtime, but they weren’t able to pound it into the end zone from a few yards out to get the win. Fans had grown accustomed to them being automatic in those situations in recent years.

Well, this isn’t recent years, and hope is fading like the paint job on a Yugo. Yesterday was the biggest all out ass kicking they’ve gotten in decades, and it looked like they’ve completely given up in every aspect of their game. The offense, defense and special teams played like Girl Scouts.

I have been a loyal (read: stupid) Packer fan my entire life and I have to say I am not pleased to see how this year has unfolded, but on a personal level I can totally relate. I wish I couldn’t, but I absolutely do. It’s very similar to my life, and I find it fascinating to watch how it’s playing out.

Unforeseen circumstances have been the cause of the downfall, mostly devastating injuries that have wiped out their best players. It has been uncanny how many important players were lost this year, but that’s the luck of the draw. It wasn’t planned on, but now they have to suck it up and try to salvage the season with what they have left. It’s not pleasant, but nobody has a choice. It’s life in the NFL, and life in general. The fans are growing restless, and the coaches are on the hot seat.

Three years ago the same coaches won the Super Bowl and were considered geniuses. That’s a long time ago in football, and now they’re bums. I find this interesting, and it’s a character test to make due every week with depleted resources. This is exactly how my life has been since I was a kid, so I’m finding an even deeper kinship with the team this year. They’re living my existence.

It's been a rough year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers - but at least they're getting paid. We fans are getting screwed for free.

It’s been a rough year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers – but at least they’re getting paid. We fans are getting screwed for free.

Catching A Draft

April 26, 2013

Thursday April 25th, 2013 – Niles, IL

   What is it about the National Football League that has addictive powers? It’s frightening, but if I could figure out that secret ingredient I’d use it myself and get rich. Something about that sport has turned hundreds of millions of Americans into brain dead zombies who are hooked for life.

   Unfortunately, I find myself in that category and no matter how hard I fight it I seem to always come back – and I’m sure that’s exactly how they want it. I am a lifer, and my drug of choice has always been the Green Bay Packers. There are 31 other flavors available, but that one is mine.

   Once again as I have for too many years to count, I purposely blocked out my evening to watch ESPN TV coverage of the entire first round of the NFL draft. I’ve done it as long as I can recall it being televised, and I have to say ashamedly that I really enjoy it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

   Talk about your quintessential non event being overhyped, pumped full of hot air and force fed to a shallow stupid public – this is absolutely it. It’s such a brilliantly slick marketing job I wish I would have thought of it. Part of me is embarrassed I like it so much, and another part is jealous.

   The modern day King of Ballyhoo Vince McMahon himself couldn’t have pulled an event like this out of thin air, and I’m sure he’s probably jealous too. The NFL really put one over on all of us, and we’re thanking them for doing it by showing up in droves to watch it like a Super Bowl.

   My friend Marc Schultz is as hopelessly hooked as I am, and he invited me over to watch it at his house. It’s become an annual tradition that his wife Audrey cooks us steaks and we sit around in front of the TV from opening pick to the very end. It’s a total geek fest, but we both live for it.

   Marc is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, and even that doesn’t stop me from going there each and every year. We actually have intelligent conversations about what each team needs, and we try to predict who each one will take. We’ve never been right yet, but it’s still fun and we will probably keep doing it as long as they keep televising it – but why would it stop? Halfwits like us watch it.

   All the whole overblown thing boils down to is just a glorified version of picking sides as kids, but there’s something about it that attracts millions of mooks across America that should have all kinds of better things to do. I can’t tell you for the life of me who represents me in Congress, but I do know in what spot my Packers were drafting (26) and that’s embarrassing. I am SO hooked.

  The NFL knows this, so they’ve stretched the whole thing out over three days. Now it’s a whole weekend I have to set aside – and stupid me I probably will. I tell myself I’ll just put it on to find out who the Packers get in the later rounds, but who am I kidding? As always, I’ll end up getting sucked in once more by Mel Kiper Jr.’s hypnotic hyperbole and before I’ll know it it’s Monday.

   There were actual games going on in both baseball and basketball tonight, but I didn’t pay any attention to any of it. Why would I want to watch actual GAMES – some of them playoff games – when I can eat steak with a friend and watch as pampered oafs get chosen to rake in zillions?

   There’s just something not right about any of it, but I can’t deny I had a total blast from as soon as I walked in the door to the minute I left after the last pick of the first round. The food was very good, and the company was better. Marc and I watched every single pick and it was a pleasure to do it. Not one down of football was played, but the NFL still made money. THAT’S marketing!

The Driver’s Seat

February 7, 2013

Wednesday February 6th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Donald Driver officially retired from the Green Bay Packers today, and in my opinion is one of a precious few in professional sports who clearly understand how the big picture works. He’s had one of the most successful careers I can think of in any sport in decades, and his star still shines.

I have admired him on and off the field for the entire fourteen year run he has spent playing for the Green Bay Packers, but I encourage anyone – even a non sports fan – to look deeper into how his life has unfolded. I would admire this guy even if he played for the despised Chicago Bears.

There are so many good things to say, I hardly know where to start. He not only was drafted in the last round, he was the last of two picks in that round. He was taken with a draft pick that was obtained from the Bears in exchange for Glyn Milburn, and that makes it all that much sweeter.

He was a picture of consistency throughout his career in Green Bay, but off the field has been a champion for charity and pillar of the community. There are all kinds of stories about him having a scheduled appearance of a certain length but staying far longer to make sure fans were happy.

I can’t believe every professional athlete isn’t like Donald Driver, but unfortunately he is about as rare as someone on ‘COPS’ being arrested with a shirt on. He has been a great professional on the field and a greater human being off of it. I am proud to be a Green Bay Packer fan when there are players like Donald Driver to cheer for, and he is what’s right about pro athletes in general.

So few of us ever get a chance to experience the privilege of playing big time sports, and many of us – me included – tried with every ounce of our being hoping to make it so. I feel with such a rare honor comes a responsibility to be a role model to others but not everyone agrees with me.

How hard is it really to sign an autograph or shake a hand and have someone tell you they love everything you do? Those moments will last a lifetime for those who receive it, and it’s always a win/win situation because the love will be reciprocated. Donald Driver has always grasped that.

Do you think he’s ever going to have to buy a meal or a drink in the entire state of Wisconsin if he lives to be 100? Will he ever be out of a job or a place to live? Hardly. He could probably run for governor of Wisconsin, and I’m sure many wish he would. He’s earned the status of legend.

Brett Favre was also on a path to have the same kind of unbridled love, but his selfishness and lack of class fumbled that away years ago. Yes, he was a great player but it didn’t end well after many years of him being the pampered golden child and many – me included – won’t forget it.

Donald Driver was the exact opposite. Everything he did reeked of class, and other players and teams in all of pro sports should look at his career as a shining example of how it can and should be done. The man is beloved in Green Bay, WI and for a black guy that’s not easy to pull off. He has transcended race and everything else, and is a stellar example of how to truly succeed. I can’t see anyone ever eclipsing the well rounded career Donald Driver has had. Hats off to a true hero.

Yay Bears?

January 18, 2013

Thursday January 17th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I predict a bright future for the Chicago Bears and it doesn’t upset me in the least. Yes, I’m still a flaming Green Bay Packer fan and will be at least until I get Alzheimer’s disease, severe dementia or some other condition that would rob me of my faculties.

I’ll always cheer for the Packers even though it still bums me out when they lose. Sometimes it bothers me how much I actually care, but I totally do. That being said, just because I’m a lifelong fan of the green and gold it doesn’t mean I hate the Bears personally. I thoroughly enjoy it when they lose, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t ‘hate’ any rival. That’s a word I use very sparingly.

I hate war. I hate cancer. I hate cruelty to women, children and animals. Sports teams don’t fall into that category for me, and I find it rather disturbing when others take it that far. I admit I have never liked the Chicago Bears, but it doesn’t mean I wish ill fortune for any of them personally.

Living in the Chicago area, I am flooded with sports talk radio and can’t help hearing about the Bears in detail twelve months a year. It’s a year round obsession here just like the Packers are in Wisconsin, and I get to hear some of the players and coaches on the air quite often being people.

I find Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman to be a very nice fellow for example, and it deeply saddens me to know he has a sick daughter. If there were a charity event to raise money for her, I’d be first in line with bells on to participate and who I cheer for on Sundays would have nothing to do with it.

Today the buzz all over local media was the hiring of the new head coach Marc Trestman. He’s been kicking around coaching for thirty years, and this is his first shot as an NFL head coach. He won a couple of Grey Cups in Canada in Montreal, but this is his first chance on the NFL stage.

As I’m hearing about him on the radio, I’m finding myself cheering for the guy personally. He has a website www.coachmarctrestman.com where he has a book titled ‘Perseverance’, and I can totally relate to what that’s all about. He’s hung in there for decades, and now he’s getting a shot.

How can anyone not cheer for a guy like that to do well? Even as a Packer fan, I want the team to get good so the rivalry will really heat up. Both teams being good at the same time is great for the NFL, and even though I’ll be cheering for the Packers during all games I still like Trestman.

I didn’t have anything bad to say about the Bears’ last coach Lovie Smith. He said in his news conference that he wanted to ‘beat the Packers’ and I thought that was great. Very ballsy. He did it too – at least for the first few games. He had a respectable nine year run, and took the Bears to a Super Bowl. The guy isn’t going to starve to death, and I’m sure he’ll nail down another job.

I find myself cheering for quality people even above the teams they’re with. Lovie Smith has a classy aura about him, and I wish him nothing but the best. Forrest Gregg was a pompous ass and I was embarrassed the way he conducted business when he coached the Packers. I’m still loyal to the Packers, but if the Bears do well I’ll be happy for Marc Trestman. The guy earned his stripes.

Grandiose Visions

September 15, 2012

Thursday September 13th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL/Hoffman Estates, IL

   Every day I’m plugging along, trying to do my very best. I’ve been humping it extra hard lately on a number of projects, and I’m actually making some noticeable progress. But I think I’ll need about six more lifetimes and a staff to get everything I want to accomplish running how I want it.

I’ve got these grandiose visions of what I’d like to be doing, and then I get in my beater Chevy Cavalier with the ‘URANUS 2’ license plates and watch people’s looks of amusement in my rear view mirror as I drive around running errands and wondering if my ship is ever going to come in.

Everything I’ve got going is hanging on by a shoestring right now, and that shoestring is sitting on top of a house of cards that was built outside on a three legged picnic table during a hurricane. I don’t feel any stability anywhere, nor do I feel any support from anyone who has any influence and can help move my cause along. That’s frustrating to the point of sadness, but what can I do?

I can keep working, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m getting up early and staying up late, and my days are built around how much I can accomplish doing something positive. Between keeping up with my exercise program and answering calls and emails, it doesn’t leave much time for a life.

As much as I’d love to have a family of my own, I just don’t see it happening in this lifetime. If it was going to happen it would have happened by now, but it just wasn’t in the cards. It’s getting pretty late now, and having kids would be a stretch. I’d likely be dead by the time they turned 21.

I’ve had to spend so much time navigating through the treacherous waters in my own life that I never had time to be ‘normal’. I’m not thrilled about it, but who do I complain to? God? That’s a whole other issue I’m struggling a lot with lately. I just don’t see there being one like I once did.

Whatever is out there or up there or behind there or wherever he or she or it may be, I’m numb to it at this point. There’s enough to worry about trying to pay my bills every month that I’m not able to dig very deep on it. I don’t care if there is or isn’t any pie in the sky, because all any of us have is today. My yesterdays were pretty rough, but that’s over. I’m trying to enjoy my todays.

Today I worked very hard cranking out five – yes, FIVE – articles I’ve been meaning to write for years about starting out in standup comedy. I’m going to use them as pass outs in my comedy classes, and I also started another blog at www.maxwellmethodcomedy.wordpress.com/  that I’m going to use to write articles that will hopefully be able to help aspiring newbies on the way up.

To me, these are the only kinds of things I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Mopping or mowing or hauling or cleaning doesn’t interest me in the least. I’m not above working hard, but I want to do what I want to do. What I did today will hopefully help others long after I’ve croaked.

On a pleasant note, the Green Bay Packers stomped the Chicago Bores and I watched the game at Jim McHugh’s house with Max Bumgardner who was in town training for a new job. Any day the Bears lose and I can share it with friends is a good day. Getting my work done is even better.