Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the Green Bay Packers.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
The Super Bowl trophy is named after legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Which is fitting because the Packers have the most league championships in the NFL with 13 (Lombardi was responsible for five). They have four Super Bowls, including the first two under Lombardi, but 13 titles in total when you include earlier NFL championships.
I know a lot of hipster Steelers fans (cough Matt Franciscovich cough) like to hang their hat on the six Super Bowls the team has won, and that the Packers' non-Super Bowl titles shouldn't count. But you were part of the NFL back then, Steelers fan. So get over it. And trust me. I was born in Schaumburg, Illinois, and a Bears fan, so this gives me absolutely no pleasure to say, but ... Green Bay is the leader of the (wait for it) Pack.
Don't make me say it again.
The Brett Favre trade
The Packers won Super Bowls I and II ... and then not a lot of great things happened for them -- two playoff appearances between 1968 and 1992. But the great Ron Wolf pulled off one of the greatest coups of all time when the plucked Brett Favre off the Falcons' roster. And, well, the rest was history.
It came as a great risk, too. Favre was a hard-partying quarterback who could have become a cautionary tale like Ryan Leaf or Johnny Manziel. But he persevered to become one of the best quarterbacks ever. Loads of Pro Bowl appearances. Numerous MVP awards. And the crowning achievement, winning Super Bowl XXXI. Wolf saved the Packers with this move.
This seems fair ...
And when Favre was ready to go on to the next stage of his life -- well, sorta ... I'm not going into Favre's numerous retirements because it is still stupid and continues to irk most Packers fans -- Aaron Rodgers was waiting in the wings. If you thought the Favre trade was a stroke of genius, the Packers pounced when Rodgers plunged down the draft board in 2005 (to No. 24 overall). The Packers didn't need a quarterback at the time, but grabbed an heir apparent.
And as a Bears fan (Lions and Vikings fans, chime in here, too), this is especially galling because Chicago drafted Cedric Benson in 2005 when it didn't need a running back (and had needed a quarterback for about a century). In fact, the Lions haven't had a Hall of Fame quarterback since Bobby Layne. The Vikings since Fran Tarkenton. The Bears since Sid Luckman. And the Packers have had two in my lifetime. Seriously, seems fair.
Who is better: Favre or Rodgers?
Oh, man -- this is such a hard choice. What an embarrassment of riches. How could anybody ever pick? It would be akin to choosing from a number of beautiful women vying for your attention on "The Bachelor" or something. Thankfully, I was able to enlist the help of former "Bachelor" Nick Viall, a lifelong Packers fan.
"I lean Rodgers," Viall said. "I have forgiven Favre now, but I kind of exiled him when he went to the Vikings. But it's all good now."
*But what is it about Rodgers? *
"[Rodgers] is so fun to watch. He really spoils you as a fan. He's so good that when he does actually throw an incomplete pass, you're like, 'What the heck?' He is so perfect with his passing. He's so precise and he rarely makes mistakes. That's the big thing. He takes care of the ball."
That checks out. Rodgers hasn't thrown double-digit interceptions in a season since 2010, when he threw 11 (and ironically, the same year Green Bay won its most recent Super Bowl). Seriously. Some guys have all the luck.
Seriously, they are never out of a game when Rodgers is the quarterback.
Although, a small part of me likes to believe that quarterbacks are only rationed a small number of desperation heaves in their lifetime, and Rodgers has already used all of his. Unless he used a cheat code to get unlimited heaves like it was a real-life version of Contra or something.
The replay game
"There was this bizarre replay. And this was back when replay was first starting. It seemed like it was a 10-minute delay in getting this thing looked at. Do you remember that?"
Oh, I remember that. And the string of expletives coming from my Bears-loving father. But here is what happened.
Majkowski threw a touchdown to Sterling Sharpe, but it was ruled that he was over the line of scrimmage. It was replayed. Back in 1989, replays came from upstairs. There were no HD TVs. Seriously, go look at the YouTube videos. You can see. There was no clear cut way to see this. And after the huge delay, the call was overturned despite the fact that (and this is what my dad was screaming at the time) there was no [expletive] way you could tell for sure.
"Clearly, he wasn't over the line," Viall added. "It was the right call."
Of course it was. Actually, it probably was. And honestly, it was sort of a passing of the torch to the Packers.
Speaking of the rivalry
Yes. THAT game. Jay Cutlerleft early. The Packers won the game and went on to beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl. The only other time the Bears and Packers met in the playoffs was 1941. And the Bears won that and went on to win the NFL title! So deal with that! Sorry. But this series has seen some pretty remarkable events, including that replay game.
Mark of consistency
The Packers have excellent leadership, starting at the top with President and CEO Mark Murphy and GM Ted Thompson. The Packers are consistently good every year and, quite frankly, it's gotten pretty annoying. The Packers haven't had a losing season since 2008 and that includes a win in Super Bowl XLV, which I had to witness in person. That wasn't fun.
The frozen tundra
Let's be honest. There aren't too many hallowed football stadiums. Your current automobile will probably last longer than a typical NFL stadium. You can't say that about Lambeau Field. The venerable stadium has hosted greats from Hutson to Lombardi to Rodgers. (Actually, it opened in the 1950s, so Hutson never played there. Glad I caught that.)
And while the old gal has certainly gone through some upgrades, it's still Lambeau Field. Home of the Ice Bowl and other great games. It remains the biggest "bucket list" stadium in the NFL. And yes, even I would like to get out there and watch a game. Preferably when the Bears are there ruining Brett Favre appreciation night on Thanksgiving or something. But you should want to go there.
The fans are the owners
This is a pretty cool thing. The Packers fans actually own the team. The only community-owned franchise in American professional sports. You can buy shares of the team. But there are rules in place, so you can't own too many shares of the team and do like a hostile takeover or something.
I'm going to say John Kuhn. But mostly because this is a fantasy-football hot take, because this guy stole all of the touchdowns from the dudes we actually started. Oh man, he was annoying.
Not enough credit
Don Hutson. His name is never mentioned as one of the best receivers in NFL history, but this guy basically invented pass routes. He was a legend in his own time. The Cleveland Rams were intent on keeping Hutson out of the end zone, so he was shadowed by Dante Magnani. Hutson ran straight for the goal post, which were on the goal line at the time, hooked his arm, pulled the 180 and was wide open for a touchdown.
He once caught four touchdown passes and kicked five extra points for 29 points in a single quarter against the Lions in 1945. That record will probably stand for a while longer.
Let's put this out there. Hutson led the NFL in receiving touchdowns nine times. In total touchdowns, eight times. He led the league in scoring five consecutive years. He caught 74 passes in 1942. His closest competitor had 27. Antonio Brown was second in the NFL last year with 106 receptions. Imagine if Larry Fitzgerald led the league with 260ish receptions? Because that is how wide that gap was.
Max McGee's No. 85. McGee was a long-time Packers great, but was at the end of his career by the time Green Bay reached Super Bowl I. Since he hadn't played the whole season, McGee figured he'd party in Los Angeles the night before the Super Bowl. Now, he was a notorious curfew-breaker and Lombardi once apparently even told him, "McGee, you find a party worth breaking curfew, let me know, and I'll go with you."
McGee went out all night (presumably without Lombardi) and partied. He got back in time to get on the team bus and then didn't even bring his helmet to the field. And, well, you probably know how this ends. McGee catches a bunch of balls (seven for 138 and two touchdowns) as the Packers win the Super Bowl. And now every time I'm hung over at work, I think of Max and say, "If this dude could play in the Super Bowl hung over, I can sit here and write about fantasy sleepers."
Here's why you should be a Packers fan. Actually, I can't bring myself to do this. Nick, could you please help me out once again?
"You should root for the Packers because of the setup of the organization," Viall told me. "No other team, at least not in North America, is team-owned by the fans and the community. If you've ever been lucky enough to go to Lambeau Field, it's a pretty neat experience. The team is always competitive. There is a strong tradition. Being a Packers fan is pretty cool."
But Nick is right. The Packers are a good organization. They win enough, but not enough to make most people hate them -- like the Patriots. Like, imagine if the Patriots were Scut Farkus of "A Christmas Story" and that would make the Packers Grover Dill or something.