Posts Tagged ‘Mike McCarthy’

Scott Tolzien Syndrome

November 12, 2013

Sunday November 10th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

The Green Bay Packers are living my life. They are being bombarded by one unexpected crisis after the next, and it’s all coming at once and totally out of the blue. That’s been pretty much the blueprint of my entire life, and I’ve gotten used to it by now. It’s fun to see someone else squirm.

What’s even more fun is to watch the fan base panic. Aaron Rodgers has been very durable as a star quarterback, but he suffered an injury last week and now he’s out for at least a few weeks. They were shaky at best in the backup position with Seneca Wallace, but Coach Mike McCarthy gave him his full vote of confidence last week. The team spent all week trying to band together.

Then wouldn’t you know it, Seneca Wallace goes down in the first quarter with a groin injury, and a hush fell over Lambeau Field as former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien took the field. He’d only been activated from the practice squad the week before, and was a last resort.

Lo and behold, he came in and did a spectacular job under the circumstances. He looked like a seasoned pro, and totally belonged out there. He made a couple of mistakes, but nothing to incite mass panic either with the coaching staff or the beer swilling masses who think they’re coaches.

That was no easy feat, but Scott Tolzien went in there and got it done when everything was out of control. He exceeded everyone’s expectations, and when he got his chance he was prepared to deliver. That’s very impressive, and even though the Packers lost the game it doesn’t bother me.

Life has a way of throwing curveballs, and sometimes things get hairy very quickly. I know it’s not just me, but I’ve felt like I’m the third string quarterback for most of my own life. I’ve done my best to hang in there the best I could, but there is never any sympathy from one’s opponents.

No team is going to take it easy on the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is out. In fact, they will go out of their way to make life as miserable as possible for Scott Tolzien just like they did when Seneca Wallace was in that spot. The rules of the jungle are unforgiving, and I am living proof.

I was born into a crisis situation, and had to resort to Plan B from the start. My mother took off when I was five months old, and I was sent to live with my paternal grandparents. Their plan was to find an orphanage to send me to, but they decided to raise me themselves because they were at each other’s throats and they thought it would keep their marriage together. I was their project.

Their marriage eventually ended anyway when I was twelve, and Gramps died when I was 18. Grandma had kicked me out of the house when I was 17, and I have been on my own ever since trying as hard as I can to piece together whatever a ‘normal’ life might be. I’m still wondering.

I’m not looking for sympathy, and never did. All I’ve ever wanted is a chance to pave my own way in the world and get ahead on my own merits. I’ve sincerely tried with all my might to be a quality person despite what poker hand I may have been dealt, and I haven’t always succeeded.

Warts and all, my life has been what it has. Much like the Packers, it wasn’t what was planned on but there was no choice on my part. Scott Tolzien is a man after my own heart. I can relate.

Scott Tolzien stepped onto a mine field, and left with both of his legs. Kudos to his achievement.

Scott Tolzien stepped onto a mine field, and left with both of his legs. Kudos to his achievement.


Packer Persistence

January 4, 2010

Sunday January 3rd, 2010 – Lake Villa, WI

Time to learn a valuable life lesson. Too bad I can’t figure out exactly what that is. My beloved Green Bay Packers finished the regular season today with a solid victory to send their record to a very respectable 11-5. They’re in the playoffs and have a shot to do well.

Just two months ago, they lost to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa and a lot of furious fans, myself included, wanted the severed heads of coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson put in a bowling bag and dumped into Lake Michigan.

The heat was on, and it looked like the season was over for another year. Last year they went 6-10 and lost some heartbreakers in the later part of games that left a rotten taste in the mouths of the Lambeau legions. 4-4 wasn’t horrible, but not what we were expecting. 4-3 wasn’t all that great, but it was over .500. Then, losing that Tampa game hit a nerve.

I was in the car with my comedian friend Steve Purcell on the way to do a gig up at the Island Casino in Harris, MI as we listened to it on the radio. We both stared blankly at his dash board as we tried to process what had just taken place. We were both quite irked.

Most other Packer fans I know were ready to torch the locker room and revolt. Then, an amazing thing happened. They started winning, and ended up going 7-1 in their last eight games to give them the 11-5 mark they finished the season with today. What a difference.

Nobody wanted to do any torching today, and everyone I talked to was giddy about their chances of going deep into the playoffs, maybe even to the Super Bowl. Could this be the same mob that wanted McCarthy and Thompson sent packing? Yup. I was one of them.

What happened in two months to turn everything around like this? Granted, they could easily lose next week as they play the same Arizona Cardinals squad they slapped around like a biker’s old lady today, but for now all is well in Packerland. Smiling faces abound.

People seem to think firing a sports coach or manager and getting an entirely new crew in place from top to bottom is how to fix any problem. I’ll admit that I did too. I thought a major change was needed to get the Packers back on track, but apparently I was mistaken. Somehow, the people and system in place was able to correct itself and now it’s working.

Sure, they played a few poor to mediocre teams and they still made some embarrassing mistakes, but the bottom line is a much improved and respectable finish compared to their less than impressive beginning. It was quite a turnaround, and it happened at precisely the right time too. Had they started strong and fizzled, it would be over. Now, there’s hope.

There’s a real lesson to be learned here, and I want to make sure I find it. It’s easy to get angry and point fingers, but sometimes cleaning house isn’t the guaranteed way to fix any problem. It may be the easy way, but sometimes things just take time and they’ll work out in the long run. And, there’s no guarantee the new people will be better than the old ones.

Marriage is that way too. When a few things go wrong, the natural inclination is to pull the plug and get a divorce. That’s the same mentality that firing a coach is, but it looks to be the one and only solution…until the next person gets in there and problems start again.

Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson were brought in as the fresh meat fans clamored for  after the last coach Mike Sherman’s honeymoon ended badly. He was both the coach and general manager, and at first they just took the general manager job away. Then he lost it all and Ted Thompson hired Mike McCarthy to be the answer. That started it over again.

What’s confusing is, sometimes it IS the right call to gas the general manager, coach, all the assistant coaches, half the players and the three ugliest cheerleaders just to be safe. It’s also the right call once in a while to get a divorce too. The key is to know exactly when.

In our own lives, most of us could use a new coach or manager once in a while. I know I for one tend to keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again, and I have to believe I’m not the only one who does that. What am I supposed to do, fire myself? I’m in the driver’s seat, warts and all. I don’t have the option of getting somebody else to do it.

Or do I? I can’t fire myself, but I can fire myself UP by surrounding myself with quality people who are interested in the same things I am and have similar goals. Weeding out all the leakers is a great way to improve my own life, as all they’ll do is bring a person down.

In the last year or so, I’ve weeded out a few of my life‘s leakers. My ex business partner stole money, but more important than that I’m finding out quite a few others didn’t enjoy working with him and only did it out of courtesy to me. I had no idea it was even an issue.

The whole insane incident with the bounced check at Giggles Comedy Club was also an ugly mess, but it weeded them out as well. I’m much better off that both are out of my life and I don’t miss them at all. They were both leakers and losing them was a total positive.

I’m not without blame either though. Some of the stupid things I do keep repeating and I have nobody to blame but myself. I need to find a way to solve those problems, just like Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson circled their wagons and salvaged a winning season.

It wasn’t all just those two guys, but they had a lot to do with it. The players contributed the effort on the field, but the main ones steering the ship were McCarthy and Thompson. They’re both past their honeymoon phases and fans aren’t going to cut either any slack.

I feel like I’m in the exact same place in my own life. My honeymoon is over and I want to win my own personal Super Bowl. I’ve paid my dues, but that doesn’t mean I have any guarantees of anything. I have to play my best game at all times focus on being a winner.

Whether the Packers win the Super Bowl or not, I think they had a great season the way they came back from the mid point when everyone thought it was over. Kudos to all who made that happen. I’m inspired and hope I can hang in there to turn my own life around.