I was walking on Harvard St. on the way to the Gophers women’s basketball game with Maryland on Sunday afternoon. There were pockets of fans doing the same. I’m a habitual eavesdropper in these situations, curious as to what is on the collective mind of these small samples of Minnesotans.
There were two gents, one in his 60s, the other a decade younger, walking in front of companions. The topic turned to the Packers-Cowboys playoff game, which was closing in on halftime as we walked along.
“The Cowboys were ahead 14-7 when I left the house,’’ the older man said.
He took a few more steps and added: “The Packers hit [Tony] Romo low when I was watching, but there was no penalty. If it had been [Aaron] Rodgers getting hit, they would’ve thrown someone out of the game.’’
A few more steps and this: “I think I’d rather see the Cowboys win than the Packers. I’m tired of Rodgers and Green Bay getting all the calls.’’
The second fellow agreed with this opinion, and the conversation turned to the weekend’s round in the NFL playoffs. The second fellow said he was impressed by what he saw from Baltimore a week earlier, and thought that the Ravens had a good chance.
If his friend was aware that the Ravens had lost to New England a day earlier, he was too polite to mention it.
I can only imagine the affirmation that these gents felt for their “Green Bay gets all the calls’’ theory when arriving home later in the afternoon and learning that the Packers had benefitted greatly from the reversal of a call on Dez Bryant’s catch/no catch on the goal line.
As pointed out by many people, there is a comical element in dissecting this latest officiating controversy, that being:
A week ago, a popular sentiment among fans seemed to be that the NFL was a conspirator in a controversial call that went against the Lions because the league wanted the Cowboys to advance in the playoffs.
On Sunday, that sentiment became that the NFL was a conspirator in the Bryant reversal because it wanted the Packers to advance in the playoffs.
I’m far enough removed from looking at games as a fan that when I hear an otherwise reasonable person fiercely, “I hate the Packers,’’ I’m wondering what that's based on.
OK, the Vikings play them twice a year, and they play in the neighboring state, and there might be a Packer person or two in your workplace that likes to agitate, but that’s the fun of going to work, right … a little healthy agitation.
What’s to hate about the Packers as a franchise? For more than two decades, they have been among the most-admirable organizations in professional sports.
Today, they have a general manager in Ted Thompson who avoids the limelight and works efficiently, they have a coach in Mike McCarthy who is a low-key leader and respectful of opponents, and a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who worked mightily to turn himself into one of the all-time greats.
I like to see the Packers win in situations like Sunday’s, if only for the manner in which that organization carries itself as opposed to Jerry Jones and his organization.
If you’re in the crowd that “hates the Packers’’ and figure they are 9-1-1 against the Vikings in this decade because “Rodgers and Green Bay get all the calls’’ ...
Well, you keep thinking, Butch, that’s what you do best.