Friday, January 4, 2008

13-3 = Not-So-Frozen Tundra

Four and twelve; there goes the coach. Eight and eight; OK, we broke even, but we've got to make some changes. Ten and six; wow, we have a shot at making the playoffs, depending on who beats who. Such are January expressions from years-past heard throughout the frozen tundra of the Green Bay Packer nation.

We could drop some names and go back a little further. We could mention people's names that are associated with extremely painful times, like David Whitehurst, Randy Wright, Eddie Lee Ivory, Rich Campbell. And how about this one: Tony Mandrich! Such memories almost bring to life the haunting chills of what post-season Januarys once were to cheeseheads; their team as cold, lifeless and dormant as a frozen Hayward, WI. resort.

You know what that is like, how things are outside, in the dead of winter. Everything is unmoving and still; there is no visible evidence of life; you are left just to endure the conditions at hand, with little or no hope that anything will change any time soon.

The deep-freeze before you is a howling mockery of memories of sunshine and glory; and you know that such times are gone. You know that rather than to hope for good things to happen, all you can do is settle for how things are. Maybe you'll go punch a hole in the lake and go ice-fishing, for you've got no choice but to adapt. Yes, a lifeless team is like the dead of winter in the frozen tundra: bitter, cold, unrelenting, and hopeless.

But did someone say thirteen and three? For real? The Green Bay Packers are thirteen and three? Well, the mercury just rose throughout the land of cheese. A lot. In fact it is almost a heat-wave, regardless of the hard-working snow-plows that pass by your house.

And names like Driver, Jennings, Jones, Grant and Robinson create unusual images for a domain normally locked in an Arctic-chill; they are almost palm-tree like icons growing on the Lambeau turf in the heart of January -- a most un-ordinary spectacle. For not only do they significantly bite back at the chill, but they are inspiring reminders that something green and thriving not only grows now, but will continue to grow in just a few short months ahead.

And for the first time in a decade, perhaps only the second or third time in a generation, Green Bay Packer fans can actually be comfortably optimistic about the current status of the team, as well as its position for the future -- and this is with or without Brett Favre.

Thirteen and three means that the frozen tundra will not be as frozen this year. The winter will not be as long. Regardless of how the Packers fare in the upcoming playoffs, it has been a great year and the status is that things are good. Very good.

And rather than shuffling through the snow out onto a frozen lake to help get through a cold, dreary weekend, there are probably quite a few cheeseheads who might be found out in their back yards on some Sunday afternoons this January - grilling brats instead. Albeit, while wearing mittens.

No comments: