I have hated them. Hated them all my life. I started watching football in 1970. For my entire childhood I watched my Vikings have their ways with the Packers. I would hear people argue the two Super Bowl wins from the late-1960s meant that Green Bay was better than my Vikings. But my team clobbered the Pack throughout my school-age years. Murderilized them. We had four straight Super Bowl visits and they had none. Division titles? We won nine to their two during my school years (1970-1982)
Then Brett Favre came along and changed the Packers in 1992. They won division titles, made playoff runs, and won a Super Bowl (again). Almost repeated in 1998. In Favre's tenure from 1992 to 2007, Green Bay won seven titles to Minnesota's four. Other than Chicago's brief dominance and Super Bowl win in 1986, Minnesota had controlled the then Central Division. Until Favre.
As I became older, joined the work force, I realized that good families of Minnesota inter-mixed with Cheese lovers. At work there would be a handful of Packers fans for every fifty staff. I had to endure their endless taunts of the team I had witnessed completely dominate them for nearly twenty years. And they are boorish. And brash. They would wear little the G insignia like they lived in Wisconsin. Any time we upset them, or they lost, I made sure I asked my nearest Packer-co-worker "how the game went". Oh, I knew. But during these times we did not dominate.
When Favre left in 2008 for New York, I breathed a sigh of relief. The previous year he had led them to the North division title, NFC best record, and home field in the playoffs, only to lose to the Giants in a close game (that Ryan Grant really blew) that ended Favre's career in Green Bay. Now in 2008, with the young Aaron Rodgers, they plummeted back to the place in the division that I spent my childhood viewing: the bottom half. I was happy.
Then in this season things got dramatically changed. Their hero was now our savior. Brett Favre joined the hated rival: us. Maybe his fight with management was the cause? Or the fans turning on him? Or his former coach coming to us? I am not inside enough to know for sure. What I am sure of is that it burns Packers fans deeply. They will rarely confess it. They will grit their teeth and say something against Favre that sounds hollow. But their eyes lie. We know it hurts.
But it hurts us, too. Most Vikings fans respected Favre while hating him. And now he is ours. And the bitter Packer-lovers (and Jets) point to a future when Favre will toss away the game like the 2007 NFC Championship or the late 2008 season for the Jets. But we hold on to Favre as the man who will take us far. Farther than the Packers. Farther than the Vikings teams of the 1970s.
And now the "Return of the King" should end late Sunday. And I really want to have something to say to my fellow Packer staff. Because Lord know they will have something to say should Favre fail. Apologies to Dr. Suess, but they will smile their little cheesy smiles, grin their cheesy grins, and probably wear a green and gold shirt two sizes too big. That is a sight I cannot stand in the least. No. We must win. For our state. For Brett himself. But mostly because we like to see misplaced Packer-Backers squirm.
On Monday, if they do not call in sick like they did in the 1970s. And 80s.
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