Well, that stinks.
The only people at Lambeau field who didn't know that the Packers would win the NFC Championship and go to the Super Bowl were the New York Giants.
The frozen chosen who attended the game knew it. The greater Cheesehead nation knew it. The media knew it. Why, Fate, herself, also seemingly knew it; for what always happens in NFC Championship games at Lambeau?
It was a dream season, a done deal.
But the Giants tried telling us something different; only nobody was listening. They mentioned it when Plaxico Burress started making cornerback Al Harris look like Charlie Brown. Of course, Burris was getting all the right help from Payton Manning; or was that actually Eli?
The Giants were also hinting when they announced that the Packer running game would be closed for the season. That was early on. Their defensive line sealed it up, closed it off, and put up detour signs.
We weren't reading much, either.
The Giants were happy to tell us about it while pointing at the hail-storm of yellow penalty flags that Green Bay foolery caused to rain upon the field in critical times. (Note to self: All times are critical times in the NFC Championship.)
But instead, we believed something else when we saw Donald Driver racing 90 yards down the sideline. And again, when we saw two Giants' field goals sail wide. An interception? No problem, we'll just strip the ball and have Mark Tauscher fall on it. Surely, we thought, this all was fate's smile on a Cinderella season, a Cinderella capstone on an advancing career.
Why, it was the NFC Championship. At home. In bitterly-cold January. Vince Lombardi himself had likely orchestrated the whole thing and was was probably somewhere nearby pulling stings. All the pieces were in place, all the traditions had lined up. We all knew it.
So it was in disbelief that we watched a different fumble slip through our fingers. We were confused when we saw that our second-half offensive strategy was to dabble for three plays and then go sit back down by the sideline heaters. We were horrified when more penalty flags landed on the frozen turf. Yet, we refused to listen.
But then New York's kicker stepped up to the microphone. He cleared his throat; then with one swift movement, and with the voice of fate, he spoke loud and clear.
We finally heard.
And do you know what he said? He said, "Green Bay isn't Cinderella; the New York Giants are."
And so it is. As sad and difficult as it is to hear, it will be the Giants going to the Tom Brady ball this year, and not the Green Bay Packers.
So after a tremendous season, one filled with hope, but not expectation (unlike in Dallas where they are whining like babies now, pointing fingers and and barbecuing Tony Romo), where every win was a surprise and a delight, where magic happened and lightening struck repeatedly, there is some consolation in finding out we're not Cinderella, but just her ugly step-sister...
And that is this: at least we're not the Bears!
Thank you, Coach McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers.
It's been a great ride.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Well, that stinks.