Lambeau Field, I've never had the pleasure. Nor have I ever been to Green Bay, Wis., home to the Packers since 1921. After the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals (nee: Chicago), the Pack is the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. On Sunday, they'll host the league's second oldest (non-kicking) player when Brett Favre leads the Vikings into Lambeau. Favre played 16 seasons in Green Bay, winning the MVP thrice (1995-97) and capturing the Super Bowl XXXI crown.
But when the all-time leader in passing yards, completions and touchdowns returns to said confines this weekend, he will find them unfriendly and will be soundly booed. Here's why:
The National Football League, like no other major sport, taps into our base, animal instinct: to seek pleasure & avoid pain. But that's not to suggest that we can't take pleasure in other people's pain. For what baseball offers in romanticism, the NFL Sunday provides us the opportunity to release our own inner-aggressions via dudes getting their respective blocks knocked the hell around.
Yet aren't we here in the Twin Cities considered to be among the most advanced and learned of our biped brothers? According to U.S. News & World Report, Minneapolis and Seattle tie as the most literate cities in the country, with St. Paul coming in at #4. In my experience at least: the more literate one is, the more he or she extols the tenets of being analytical, of being considerate, of being prudent, and of being judicious.
But when it comes to Brett Favre -- we've exhibited few if any of said virtues. Despite the thousand reasons to be wary and skeptical of Favre (former rival, disorganized-narcissist, notorious waffler, age, injury, et. all), we've soundly celebrated his arrival to date.
Why? Because we're winning.
It's surely not my intent herein to inversely portray Green Bay as some nadir of society -- from what I've long heard via the countless friends that have seen a game at Lambeau, the people there couldn't be more welcoming, fun, or enthusiastic.
By sporting standards, Green Bay is a small town. With a population just over 100,000, it's by far the smallest city to have a major, four-sport franchise. But for what "small towns" offer in charm, they concurrently posses in pride. With the nation watching on Sunday, the masses at Lambeau Field will become a home of insular and inclusive pride -- and all those donning Green & Gold will show the country what any small community would display when in the glow of the nation's watchful eyes:
Unity. Tradition. And Pride.
For Lambeau to embrace their folk hero Favre -- Packer fans would only look like suckers. In the heat of a 3 ½ hour battle, there's neither time nor desire to consider the machinations of how or why or when Favre left -- there is only Favre in Purple, standing on the opposing sideline. And the Packer faithful will take base pleasure in seeing pain inflicted upon him.
Now consider how our noted community of literacy would feel if Brett bails after a year, or fails to win a game in the postseason -- something he did 12 times for one of American sports' most celebrated, traditioned and crowned franchises.
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