Thread: My Side Of The Fence
08-28-2004, 12:21 PM #1
My Side Of The Fence
Since Webby hasn't given in to allowing a Packer fan to have an official article, I will continue to post mine. I posted the first two back in July and August in the Authors forum, which has since disappeared, so I am reprinting them with my newest article. Enjoy!Have you ever seen a race of turtles, and they all go the wrong way instead of towards the finish line?
Welcome to the NFC North.
08-28-2004, 12:22 PM #2
Volume 1 Issue 1 "Six Degrees...."
My Side Of The Fence
Vol.1 Issue 1
A year ago at this time, I lived my very secluded life. I woke up on Sunday morning, put on my Packer jersey, put my Packer flag on my car window, dressed the kids up in their Packer cheerleading outfits or little football player costumes, and waited impatiently for 12:00.
The best part was, I went outside, and up and down the block, and there were houses of fellow Packer fans dressed alike, smoking some brats and tossing a football around. My wife would take the kids to the mall, as there was literally no one else there, other than other wives who think a shotgun formation was something they saw in â€œRed Dawnâ€.
Yes, sirâ€¦everyone I know was a Packer fan. Except for some occasionally deluded people who were Cowboy fans, or 49er fans, or if they were particularly addled in the head, Viking fans. We avoided those people. What they had might be contagious.
Now, you have to admit, the Green Bay Packers have been about as close to being an â€œAmericaâ€™s Teamâ€ as any over the past several decades. With such a long history and some championships to boot, people who grew up in Wisconsin relocated throughout the nation and abroad and raised new generations of Packer fans in places like Arizona, Florida, and even Texas. We were reminded of this many times through the Super Bowl years, particularly because everyone forgot this over the two decades of losing, including the Packer fans abroad. Even they needed a gentle reminder that they, too, were Packer fans.
Viking fans had the misfortune of being an expansion team instead of one of the original teams the NFL had. Despite some success in the 70â€™s (which I am too young to remember), the team was, at least from my point of view, limited to a very small geographical areaâ€¦in particular, a 50 mile radius around Minneapolis. Anywhere outside of that was probably Packer fans.
Then, I had the fortune of finding the Internet. I started on Prodigy back in 1994, then on AOL in 1996, and just a regular ISP since. Since then, Iâ€™ve had a chance to actually talk with Packer fans from Arizona. The globalness of fandom was now as close as my computer.
But hereâ€™s the funny part. One day, I went on a site called PurplePride. Yeah, I was probably looking to pick a fight. But, after spending some time on it, I realized a couple of things. Number one, not all Viking fans are complete blithering idiots. Many of them are quite personable, and some are exceptionally nice and insightful. More or less, I find I often prefer to frequent the Viking fans, purely out of my love of hating them.
The other thing, though, is the globalness of the Viking fan base. I expected every single person to be from Minnesota, and while many are, Iâ€™ve had a chance to meet Viking fans from across the globe. Viking_Spirit, presently the top poster, is from Bengal/Brown state. No doubt where Hawaiian is from, and even Italian is from Canada. In fact, 11 of the top 20 posters claim statehood other than Minnesota, and Anglo represents our cricket-playing pals across the pond, while nzviking comes from the land where Lord of the Rings and Xena was filmed (Liv and Lucyâ€¦what a lucky dog nz is!).
Certainly Minnesota is well-represented. TNT hails from there, and dart even is happy to claim living in the Twin Cities. My diplomatic bud muchluv is from South Dakota, though, and purplehorn is from North Carolina, starting at guard, Number twenty-threeâ€¦.wait, thatâ€™s a different sport.
My point? Sites like Purplepride really do serve a worthwhile purpose. Even I, an arrogant Packer fan who pretty much thought the world revolved around my team, has had a change of heart. I am now a Packer fan who still believes the world revolves around my team, but has a strong awareness of another solar system close by.
Most Viking fans in Minnesota donâ€™t really need a site like PurplePride, any more than I need to frequent a Packer site. Most of my news is in my morning newspaper, and I can talk turkey with the guy next door as well as a Packer fan from Germany.
But for those that are out there, misplaced and far from the team of their passion, Purple Pride gives them a community. As deluded as they may be, they find a place to call home. For one, I was impressed at the number of fans in and far from Minnesota, and the easiness in which they talked about their team. As an outsider, I can smile at the â€œbidding warsâ€ of the number of wins Viking fans think they will win (â€œ11 wins!â€ â€œ12 wins!â€ â€œ14 wins!â€ â€œDo I hear 15?â€) or the bitter battles between the pro-Culpeppers and the anti-Culpeppers.
I will always cheer for my team, and always cheer against the Vikes. But perhaps, Iâ€™ve found a reason not to boo them. Good fans make good rivalries, and when fans find a place to meet up, even on a message board, it makes that rivalry all the more fun.
Philadelphia fans should take a page out of the Viking/Packer book. Too bad they canâ€™t read.Have you ever seen a race of turtles, and they all go the wrong way instead of towards the finish line?
Welcome to the NFC North.
08-28-2004, 12:23 PM #3
Vol. 1 Iss 2 "So, What's The Big Deal?"
My Side Of The Fence
Vol.1 Issue 2
â€œSo, whatâ€™s the big deal?â€
I sit in front of the television, with bated breath, waiting to see if the replay officials will call Antonio Freeman down or not. After he dived for the ball, Viking players apparently neglected to touch him, and Free ran into the end zone.
Iâ€™m on my knees. I want this game. More than anything.
Behold, the official calls it a catch. I wake up my wife and make her watch it. She says, â€œWow,â€ and goes back to sleep.
I realize something at this point. Watching a Bears game is now only second-best. Even the Cowboys, who used to awaken every primal club-bashing passion in me, now donâ€™t get me nearly this excited. The Bucs? Well, they are still up there, but this is still pre-Chad Clifton getting blindsided by Warren Sapp.
There is no team I hate more than the Vikings. And, from what I can see, no team the Vikings hate more than the Packers. We have a rivalry.
The Packer/Viking rivalry doesnâ€™t go back very far, especially as Minnesota neglected to have a team for the first 40 years of the Packer existence, anyway. Even after, you never really heard much about the Packers and Vikings being so intense, until really the late 90â€™s.
Whatâ€™s up? I thought the Bears were the eternal rivals of the Packers? It is trueâ€¦the Packers/Bears have something that the Vikings donâ€™tâ€¦a long history.
Both teams started long ago: The Packers were a team in 1919, in the NFL in 1921. The Bears did both in 1920. Mike Holmgren said in his first year that little old ladies would come up to him in the supermarket and tell him they didnâ€™t care what he did as a coach as long as he beat the Bears.
The Packers started first, with titles in 1929-1931. However, the Bears took over almost immediately, taking the next two years, and continuing its winning run through the forties and fifties. However, the Packer were in the hunt, creating a huge rivalry, particularly around the mid-20th century, when Don Hutson and Tony Canadeo got them some division crowns, but never a ring.
These were two heavyweights going at one another, usually one taking the other out of contention.
By the time the Vikings came on the scene, the Bears and Packers were sworn enemies. The Vikings mired in expansion-land in the 60s, watching the Packers dominate, until they took over the NFL championship in 1969.
This began an interesting swing. The Vikings began winning through the 70â€™s, taking NFC titles in 1973, 1974 and 1976. Meanwhile, the two sworn enemies, the Bears and Packers, continued to take swipes at each other while generally being unable to finish above .500. Thus, the Packers and Bears continued to focus on one another, while the Vikings were pretty much above them.
Then, the 80â€™s came. The Packers still stunk, and the Vikes came back down to earth. Now, both the Vikes and Pack looked up with hatred for the Bears, who arrogantly won a Super Bowl in 1985 and continued to win through much of the rest of the 80s. The Pack, once again, didnâ€™t seem to regard the Vikes as such a huge rivalâ€¦its was those stinking Bears.
Enter the 90â€™s, and the Bears began to decline, while the Packers rose and began an unrivaled winning streak, including a Super Bowl. The Vikes continued to ebb and flow around mediocrity.
However, hereâ€™s where it begins. Just as the Packers focused on hating the Bears because they were so successful, the Vikings began to do the same in the mid-90â€™s. Itâ€™s logical and makes sense. The Packers really didnâ€™t take much notice of the Vikesâ€¦at least, no more than usual, as they were focused on teams like Dallas and San Francisco. The Pack was among the elite. The Vikes were not. Thus, the enmity began on the western banks of the Mississippi.
Then, the rivalry began to take shape.
The Vikings always seemed to have Green Bay as their prime target. The feelings have not always been returned by the Green Bay faithful. After getting all pumped for the Bears, then facing off a against a Detroit team with some longer history, also (not to mention the Upper Peninsula bring the rivalry a little closer to Titletown), Minnesota was, wellâ€¦just another division game. How many games can you get that pumped for?
Knowing that the Packers didnâ€™t return the bitter hatred seemed to be insulting to some Vikings.
That seemed to stun Vikings tight end Hunter Goodwin and Ed McDaniel, a Vikings linebacker from 1992-2001 who is now retired. Because, from their vantage point, Minnesota-Green Bay is the biggest game of the year every time it's played.
"You can't even pretend not to notice the Green Bay thing because it's constantly thrown directly in your face," said Goodwin, a Viking from 1996-'98 who returned in April after playing three seasons for Miami. "The big reason is the number of divided households and marriages in the state of Minnesota.
"This will be my eighth chance to play this Green Bay-Minnesota game and it almost goes back to the college rivalries. You feel like there's just a lot more pressure to win this game."
So, the Vikings began to go out of their way to make sure the Packers paid attention.
In 1996, Corey Fuller parlayed himself into the same folklore as the Packersâ€™ Charles Martin, who illegally bodyslammed Jim McMahon in the 80s. Fuller laid out popular receiver Antonio Freeman, then tried to gouge out the eye of even more popular Frank Winters. Few, even Viking fans, will deny the cheapness of the play by Fuller, and some will even make justified excuses for it (â€œhe was diving across the pile, so I tried to permanently blind him!â€), but it did awaken the Viking hatred in Packer fans.
Cris Carter began the next wave, endearing himself to the home fans by doing his best Michael Irvin impersonation for years, pushing off, whining, and scoring touchdowns. One example from 1998: â€œQuarterback Randall Cunningham threw the 4-yard touchdown to wideout Cris Carter, who got away with illegally pushing-off on Sharper to get open. After 10 plays and 76 yards, the Vikings led 20-7 at halftime.â€.
The rivalry became a home-field battle, with both teams holding tremendous advantages on their own turf. Randy Moss because a poster-boy for all that was bad about the Vikings when he signed on, and began burning them in games. Randall Cunningham was passing for 400+ yards a game, and the rivalry started taking on a crushing punch/counter-punch ring every season. You can almost hear that old video gameâ€¦â€Body Blow! Body Blow! Body Blow!â€
Antonio Freeman added to the hate in 2000 when a ball bounced off Cris Dishman and into his hands, then when no one decided to touch Freeman down, he got up and walked into the end zone for a 26-20 win. Mind you, the Packers were 3-5 at the time, and the Vikings were 7-1. The Vikes went on to lose to the Packers a second time in a late-season collapse, then lost to the Giants in the NFC Championship. Packer fans took pride in deflating the high-flying Vikings.
Then, of course, came Hovan. Hovan apparently was intruiged by Favre, and went out of his way to make him a target, perhaps trying to develop the relationship Favre had developed with Warren Sapp. However, the mutual respect wasnâ€™t there, and in 2002, both Packer/Viking games ended with dramatic confrontations with the two. Naturally, anyone messing with the Packersâ€™ golden boy will draw the ire of fans, and Hovan apparently didnâ€™t mind much.
Until, of course, Hovan came up to â€œcongratulateâ€ Favre on a fine game, at which point Favre told him off and flipped him off, and of course, Hovan took the opportunity to flip off the fans of Lambeau Field, who returned his honorable gesture by throwing garbage at him. In the same game, Chris Walsh and Antuan Edwards all paid out penalties for late hits.
Hovan then went a little surreal for Packer fans, hanging a Favre jersey in his locker and obsessing on the object of his affection.
"I want to thank Mr. (Paul) Tagliabue for scheduling the Packers first," Hovan, the Vikings' fourth-year defensive tackle, told the paper. "Brett Favre is one of my motivating tools. I'm sure he's a great guy off the field, but on the field there's a different mentality."
Hovan said his whole focus this off-season was that first game.
"I want Favre to know I'm there," Hovan said. "I want him to feel me. I want to be breathing down the back of his neck. I want him to feel so anxious that maybe he'll throw an interception. He is the Packers' offense. Without him, their offense doesn't run."
"I still don't have a life," Hovan said. "No wife. No kids. Just my bulldog, Rocky. And football. And God and family."
Favre, of course, was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with Hovanâ€™s â€œcrushâ€.
Favre said that he hadn't given a lot of thought to Hovan.
"Not really," he said. "I'm sure he's given a lot of thought to me. That's fine. Get in line. There's a lot of people who want a piece of me."
Of course, the Vikings came into Lambeau on the first game of that season, and helped Christen the new stadium by pulling down their pants and deficating on it, defeating the Packers in an embarrassing loss that seems to set both teams into different directions: the Vikings went on a winning tear, the Packer seems to struggle to find themselves.
This, of course, was eradicated on the return to the Metrodome, which the Packers won. In some ways, this game seemed to set tones once again for the rest of the season: the Packers improved to 4-4, then went 6-2 the rest of the way. The Vikes fell to 6-2, then went 3-5 and missed the playoffsâ€¦which allowed Green Bay to make it.
No rivalry in the league right now is as heated as this one. These two teams, and their fans, hate one another. A rivalry this intense is only created with three things:
1) Familiarity. It breeds contempt.
2) Success: Both teams have been winning for the last 6 years or so, though not so much that one could overlook the other.
3) Genuine dislike: These teams act like thugs when they play each other. That builds and builds every year.
So, in short, whatâ€™s the big deal? The Vikings have always had the Packers as their #1 rival, but now, the Packers actually might agree. This makes for a well-anticipated set of games this season, and if history proves itself true again, the results may well dictate not only how the teams finish statistically, but also how it affects them emotionally.
Passion. Vikings. Packers. Talk all the trash you wantâ€¦nothing equals Viking/Packer football.Have you ever seen a race of turtles, and they all go the wrong way instead of towards the finish line?
Welcome to the NFC North.
08-28-2004, 12:24 PM #4
Vol. 1 Issue 3 "Cutdown Day"
My Side Of The Fence
Vol.1 Iss. 3
Most people wait for these cutdown days with anticipation. I know on many occasions we have favorite players we hope make the team, though they are hanging by a thread. Most times, weâ€™re happy with the decisions, because the players we love, whether they be named Moss or Favre, make the team. Sometimes, weâ€™re a little sad, because that young kid we saw giving his all at a practice or making a key play in the fourth quarter of a pre-season game goes.
But most of the time, the names of the cut get read and forgotten. Names that disappear from memory once the season starts.
One name has always remained in my head. His name was Louis Berry.
In 1988, I committed the worst crime that could be committed by a Packer fan. I worked for the Chicago Bears. It was two years after the Super Bowl Shuffle, and the Bears, while not winning any more Super Bowls, were still the team to beat in the NFC Central. I was die-hard Packer fan, which was obvious because at that point those were the only fans left. We stunk, the Bears were awesome. It was an icky feeling.
My job was to drive what I called the â€œSuper Bowl Shuttleâ€, a small luxury coach that transported the players from their training camp dorm at UW-Platteville to the practice facility. Throngs of fans would line the sidewalks as they made their way onto my bus. I usually said good morning if they made eye contact, but otherwise, I was told, I was part of the furniture. Donâ€™t talk to them unless they talk to you.
I have some great memories of those days. Guys who are semi-legendary rode my bus every day. Jim Harbaugh would come on the bus and tell me to turn off the junk on my cassette player and made my play country music. Mike Tomczak would ride in the back and I could always hear his voice above the others.
Mike Singletary would come on and I would feel intimidated just looking at him. He had an aura that made you jump to attention.
One day, I was transporting the players from the dorm to a party down town, where the local merchants gave the Bears a big picnic to say thanks for bringing them all so much money. I was told specifically that I was to transport the players only. No one else.
So, Iâ€™m waiting to take players back to the dorm, when there is a loud voice at my window. I turn, and it is Mike Singletary. â€œStay Here. Donâ€™t Move,â€ he says. I obey.
He comes around to the door a couple minutes later with his wife and a couple of kids. I open my mouth to say something. â€œTake Them Back To The Dorm,â€ he says. I close my mouth. He goes off to join his posse, and I take the family back.
His wife and kids are very nice, and we have a great conversation on the way back. Iâ€™m told not to talk to the players, so I feel free to chat with her. She then, of course, asks me to drop her off at her car two blocks from the dorm (another big no-no), and of course, I do it for her.
One of our huge rules was you only stop at the dorm and the field. Only thereâ€¦no other stops. One day, I was driving late in the morning, and most of the players were at the field. A backup player on crutches comes out and gets on. Heâ€™s a very mean looking African-American dude, and with me being white and from a small rural Wisconsin town, Iâ€™m a little intimidated by him.
We drive behind the dorms, with only he and I on the bus, when he suddenly yells, â€œSTOP!â€ I, of course, instead of telling him the bus must remain in motion until the practice field, stop. â€œPull In There,â€ he barks. I, of course, instead of telling him I canâ€™t go off the required scheduled path, pull into a dorm parking lot. â€œStay Here,â€ he orders, and instead of telling him I will get in trouble for delaying my route, sit and wait in the bus for nearly 10 minutes biting my fingernails and hoping my boss doesnâ€™t see me.
Then, my reward is realized. As he comes hobbling out on his crutches, he is sneaking a girl out the back of his dorm. I smile to myself and chuckleâ€¦Iâ€™m aiding and abedding his little crime of passion.
As the girl approaches, I look a little more carefully. I recognize her. You know that annoying girl in high school who is involved in everything, is officer in every club, is the teacherâ€™s pet, and ends up valedictorian? You know, the one you tried to ask out and got laughed at? Well, that girl coming out of the dorm was my high school valedictorian with this dude. I try and call her name, but she mysteriously has gone deaf. He put her in a car and hobbles back to the bus.
Now with a fine, sheepish smile on my face, I decide to ask this player about his night. He describes their adventures in fine detail, not leaving out any of the R rated descriptions. I egg him on, asking him question after question, and he smiling and laughing and describing his luscious date for the evening.
I am happy. Screw the job, this was worth it.
Guys like Ditka, the Fridge, McMahon never rode the bus. They had their little motor scooters to take, which led to a revolution is Southwest Wisconsin for years of everyone riding around in Spree gangs. It would be funny watching a bunch of Harley boys ride through town, then this little group of kids on these tiny motor scooters that sounded like an amplified electric razor.
But, to the point of my story.
I had the fortune of meeting the third string punter. He was one of the nicest guys youâ€™d ever meet. As a punter, he really didnâ€™t fit in much with the rest of the team, buddy-wise. The punter for the Bears at the time was the most cocky, arrogant guy Iâ€™ve ever seen, and wouldnâ€™t stoop to socializing with his competition.
So, who did he talk to? Me. The bus driver.
Louis Berry was the from the Deep South, and kicked for FSU. He was an Honorable Mention All-American, and was competing for a spot on the Bears. He was always sit up near me and talk with me the whole way. He would show me some pictures from his college days, and talk about his family and girlfriend. He had an easy Mississippi drawl and often asked as much about me and my life as he talked about his.
I looked forward to him getting on my bus. Sometimes, he rode the other bus, and the other driver, a girl, would talk about what a great guy he was, also. He always had a smile and knew me by name, instead of â€œfurnitureâ€.
In 1988, the Bears were to play one of their preseason games in Sweden, so I got off for about 5 days while they left. I went back to my parentâ€™s house for a while, and watched the Bears game on television. It was the way those shows from around the world used to lookâ€¦kind of blurry and fuzzy, but I enjoyed it.
In the second half, Louis came into the game for a punt. He took the ball and kicked itâ€¦with the European feed, I couldnâ€™t even see it, but the announcers all went â€œwhoa!â€. It was caught and the returner was tackled quickly.
It was a 52 yard punt. I was so happy I felt like I had kicked it myself. I recorded it and replayed it for my friends and family. They thought I was nuts.
A couple days later, I started driving again. I could see Louisâ€™s smile all the way across the grass as he approached my bus.
â€œHey, manâ€¦â€ he said, â€œdidja watch the game??â€ I smiled and said yes. â€œMan, fifty-two yards! That shoulda opened their eyes a bit! They canâ€™t cut me after that!â€ he gushed. He looked like a little kid at Christmas. I smile, and unfortunately, I believed him.
That day was Tuesday, and the players would be told at the practice facility that morning if they were cut. About 10:00, the other driver came over and told me the bad news. Louis had been cut.
â€œBut he had a 52 yard punt!â€ I argued with her.
â€œCome on,â€ she said, with a sad look, â€œYou really thought they would cut Byron Wagner?â€
I stopped and thought. â€œCan I take him back to the dorm on my bus?â€
â€œNope, they took the cuts back by van. Theyâ€™re going to drive him down to the airport in Dubuque.â€
I drove back, feeling angry, as if it were me that had been cut. How could they cut such a great guy?
I parked the bus by the dorm after dropping some guys off, and looked through the mob at a van parked on the side. Some people were loading bags and boom boxes in it.
Having broken several rules at the request of players, I decided to break one myself. I got up out of the bus (a no-no) and left my bus unattended. I really didnâ€™t care at that point. I pushed through the crowd and got to the van.
There, sitting in the back, was Louis Berry. He was looking down at his hands, muttering to himself. For a moment I watched him, as he seemed to be recounting all he woulda done, coulda done, and shoulda done. It broke my heart.
I called out to himâ€¦â€Louis!â€.
He looked up. A sad smile broke out on his face, and he called me by name. â€œYou take care of yourself now, yâ€™hear?â€
Me? Take care of myself? Dude.
I turned and walked away. I wanted to say thanks, or Iâ€™m sorry, or tell him heâ€™s a great guy. But all I ever got to say was goodbye.
From what Iâ€™ve seen, he never kicked in the NFL again. I donâ€™t know what happened to him, or where he went.
Like so many other people that were cut, most Bear fans wouldnâ€™t know the name of Louis Berry if you mentioned it to them. He wore an NFL uniform with his name and number, and thatâ€™s more than most of us ever got to do.
So, when these days arrive and I read the list of names that were cut, I sometimes step outside my box and think of these players as something besides inferior talent, players whose talents were just a cut under the rest, who were shaved from the roster like a peel from an apple, never to be heard from again.
And I think of an earnest Southern boy who would have given his left leg to be on a team, if he wouldnâ€™t have needed it to punt with. If every NFL player had this guyâ€™s attitude, we wouldnâ€™t be dealing with half the problems caused by self-celebrations, drug suspensions, early retirements to smoke pot, or DUIâ€™s.
Weâ€™d just be able to watch the game and be able to root for the person as well as the player. Itâ€™s too bad those people donâ€™t get to make the roster as often as those who act as if they are entitled to being there.
Welcome to the NFC North.
08-28-2004, 02:42 PM #5
My Side Of The Fence
Somebody has way too much time on thier hands.. :roll:
08-28-2004, 02:50 PM #6
My Side Of The Fence
Coming from the guy playing online chess?????
Welcome to the NFC North.
08-28-2004, 03:55 PM #7
My Side Of The Fence
Thats how I keep my brain from turning into cheese. :P You should give it a try. 8)
08-28-2004, 04:35 PM #8
My Side Of The Fence
you both have to much time on your hands.
08-28-2004, 04:57 PM #9Starter
- Join Date
- Dec 1969
My Side Of The Fence
Good stuff Los! There really isn't a "rivalry" when you think about da Bears or Lions. Although I really believe one of them is going to step up this year and finish second in the division behind the Vikings. :thumbleft:
And congrats to the Packers for scoring their first TD in 33 possessions ccasion5:[b:6191debc1d]it ain t easy being cheesy[/b:6191debc1d]
08-28-2004, 06:44 PM #10
My Side Of The Fence
I don't know how to break it to you Los, but your going to have a lot more time on your hands this season as the Pack will defninately be fighting for the scraps in the Division behind the VIkes.
WATCH OUT FOR #99 and the front four, hes got company this time around!!!! :drunken:Lombardis DEAD,
Favrays OLD, the Packers SUCK,
DEAL WITH IT!!!
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