Growing up a Packers fan I really didn’t know how lucky I was until this season, 2013!  My earliest memories of watching the Packers involve witnessing one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Brett Favre, sling it all over the field. Success happened quickly when Favre was under center, but we couldn’t get over the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of people give fans shit for referring to their favorite team as we, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. The Fans invest a lot into the team and without the fans there is no NFL or professional sports for that matter. Anyway, the Packers would eventually make it to the Superbowl and win it when I was just 11.  I remember to this day how excited I was that entire playoff run. I’ll also remember the feeling of disappointment the following year when we fell short to the Denver Broncos.

What will stick with me the most during the Packers 1996 season, was my Dad’s reaction. When the Packers knocked out the Panthers to advance to the Superbowl I remember my Dad beginning to tear up as I jumped around in excitement. Life as a Packers fan to me was easy because we were winning, we had a great QB, a great coach, and one of the best defenders of all time. What I didn’t have to go through was the long drought of mediocrity in Green Bay that my Dad endured as a fan. My generation was spoiled and lucky to be born into Packers fandom.  Favre always kept the Packers as a playoff contender with Superbowl potential. Even as Coaches rotated in/out the Packers stayed relevant with Favre as the driving force.

We all knew Favre couldn’t play forever but he was our ironman. He never missed a game as a Packer and we never thought we’d see him suited up in anything besides Green and Gold.  When Aaron Rodgers was drafted, the clock unofficially started for Favre’s career in Green Bay. Even after a successful 2007 season, that saw the Packers fall short against the Giants at home in the NFC Championship game, the team was committed to Rodgers. Favre’s indecisiveness off the field on whether or not he was coming back the following year had run out. Nobody was happy, Rodgers handled the situation with class and let his play do the talking.

Aaron Rodgers went on to become the best quarterback in the NFL in just a 4 year span. During this run he led the Packers to a Superbowl, won the Superbowl MVP(something Favre didn’t accomplish) and regular season MVP. The 2008 season was a bust, but Rodgers still threw for over 4,000 yards as a rookie. The 2009 season was when the ghost of Favre came back to haunt the Packers. Actually, it was the real Favre in a purple costume torching the Packers and getting some redemption of his own. The Packers would go on to make the playoffs that year and be involved in quite a shootout against the Cardinals. I remember watching the game in Afghanistan, and riding a roller coaster of emotions. The Packers would eventually lose after a fumble bounced off Rodgers foot and returned for a TD.

The 2010 season, Rodgers third as a starter, would be his chance to exercise the demons against Favre’s Vikings. It would also be the year that Rodgers put himself on the map as a legitimate superstar. His play in the playoffs and Superbowl was a joy to watch. That Superbowl was different, I now understood how hard it was for a team to make it this far. I found myself sitting still on the chair following a game clinching interception, just letting it all soak in. My first reaction was to call my dad and we just sat there in amazement on the phone.

2011 was something special. The Packers offense was unstoppable and it all started with Aaron Rodgers. They didn’t have a running game and the defense was subpar but was always good for a couple of turnovers a game. The Packers would always manage to get a double digit lead and get teams to start passing the ball which lead to turnovers. The Packers could not stop the run for the life of them that season, but it didn’t matter since they were always playing ahead. The Packers would go 13-0 heading into a matchup with the Chiefs. Surprisingly, I attended the Chiefs/Packers game that year and got to witness
the Packers get their first loss while being berated by the fans. The 2011 Packers were flawed, but Rodgers greatness was enough to overcome it all up until the playoffs. The playoffs are when your opponents are good enough to expose your flaws. You have to be a well-rounded team in order to make it to the Superbowl.  The Packers knew how bad their defense was so they used their first five picks on defensive players.

2012’s Packers team had the same issues. The Packers still lacked a running game and their defense wasn’t playing much better. However, Rodgers was able to carry them to an 11-5 season and a divisional rematch against the Niners. The Packers defense was shredded on National Television and since they were one-dimensional, Rodgers never stood a chance against that defense
. In the offseason the Packers finally decided to address their needs at running back by drafting Eddie Lacy in the second round, and Jonathan Franklin in the fourth. Eddie Lacy has turned out to be everything and more for the Packers.

The 2013 Packers were an extremely fun team to watch with a two-headed monster on Offense. Aaron Rodgers throwing the rock and Eddie Lacy being the workhorse. The defense was playing the best ball it had been in years, gang-tackling and playing with a high level of intensity. The Packers were starting to look like serious title contenders and then it all came crashing down on the night of November 4th. Coincidentally the same day my son was born. As I stood in the Hospital holding my
son, telling him about the Packers, Rodgers was getting thrown to the ground and going back to the locker room.

There were injuries in previous seasons but the quarterback has never missed a significant amount of time. Favre played QB for the Packers for 16 years and never missed a game. Aaron Rodgers had missed a game here and there but nothing too detrimental to the season. Rodgers has been sidelined for 7 weeks with no return in sight. The man that was able to cover up all of the Packers flaws was now gone and the rest of the team was left to fend for themselves. Suddenly, the defense which was ranked in the top 10 fell to the bottom of the rankings. How were they supposed to stop anybody when they were spending so much time out on the field. The Rodgers/Lacy combo had the Packers winning the time of possession game. Now they are having to deal with three and out after three and out. A franchise that had 3 total QB’s start since 1992, suddenly had 3 in two weeks. Packers’ fans finally got a taste of what a majority of other teams’ fans had to live through during those past 21 years. Inconsistency at the quarterback position is tough to watch, and it makes you feel hopeless as a fan.

Nobody will give Packers’ fans pity, but we can now say that we understand your pain. I know one thing, my generation has been extremely spoiled and lucky to have two potential Hall of Fame QBs at the helm. Without Rodgers, the Packers didn’t win a game the entire month of November. When they beat Atlanta, I can honestly say I forgot how good it felt to win.  I can only hope that Rodgers plays a long career so my children can witness a great quarterback like I did when I was young.  If that means holding him out the rest of the year, then that’s ok with me. However, this was one of the hottest teams in the league in Week 7 and there is no limit to what this team could accomplish with Rodgers in the lineup. Whether Rodgers comes back this year or next, we should all just be grateful that Rodgers is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Two Superbowls in the 29 years I’ve been alive is a lot to be thankful for!

Randall “Stiltz”

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