It's been a sweet ride for the Packers and their fans these past twenty or so years.
With the arrival of crafty GM Ron Wolf in '91, the key components to Green Bay's agonizingly long-awaited revival in the post-Lombardi era would soon be had.
In '92 Wolf persuades 49ers' Mike Holmgren to take up residence in a place that had become a graveyard for coaches since the great one's departure, then snatched a bench-warmer named Brett Favre from Atlanta's roster to work under center. To add defensive prowess, the next year Ron works his magic and entices Eagles free-agent All-Pro sack-master Reggie White to "boldly go where (fewer of his race had been going) before."
And after that group had won two NFC titles and most moved on, the torch was passed to a new wheeler-dealer, Ted Thompson ('05) who "boldly (went) where no man had gone before" in drafting a 1st-Rd QB (Aaron Rodgers) and eventually handing Favre his hat.
In this run of success, GB's returned to the Super Bowl three times, won an arm-load of North trophies and muscled their way into becoming a Thanksgiving regular along with traditionals Detroit & Dallas. And while it's fallen short of the Walsh - Seifert string and Cowboys title tally of the 90s, you wouldn't know it by the set-sure confidence most 'Backers exude from every pore, every minute, everyday since the renaissance began.
But "the times they are a-changin' (Dylan)."
With the collarbone crack heard 'round Wisconsin and that sidelined master matriculator Rodgers since Wk-9 (CHI), green & yellow faithful have seen their Packers take a nose-dive (0-3-1) and are just beginning to get a taste of something they haven't had to stomach since the 1980s: mediocrity.
In fact, a whole generation in Packerland have never known the despair, the frustration, the uncertainty most of the rest of NFL fandom experience with a tiresome regularity.
A great quarterback is a god-send.
His ability to read defense, implement game plan, take hits in the pocket while possessing a seemingly innate ability to move the ball ("He finds a way to get them the ball (H. Edwards discussing why Chip Kelly named Nick Foles Eagles' starter rest of '13 (ESPN / 11-26))," all add up to wins and can mask what otherwise might be an uninspired coaching philosophy.
The elite Rodgers won't be playing on Thanksgiving (v DET) ("slim to none (11-25)...closer to none (M. McCarthy 11-26 pressers)," meaning, Matt Flynn will be making his 2nd start for the Pack in '13. Flynn's still getting re-acquainted but has proven skills that surprisingly were never fully vetted at his two stops after being traded by GB in '10.
The Detroit - Green Bay rivalry has heated up the past couple years and this one should be a dandy. Pack plays with pride but Stafford & friends will prove too much to handle.
But be thankful this holiday, Packers' fans. It's a rough patch right now but you'll get through it. We all do. Consider it a portend of possible things to come. For now, Aaron "feels good (MM)," will suit up soon enough and then watch the wins-column grow.
Whether you land a third successive, great QB after Rodgers' string has run out, who can say (See: 49ers). All I can say is, don't bet the farm on it. Cook-a-doodle-do!
Cherry Picks Week 13: Stumble Bums, Lucky Dogs & The Right Stuffin'
Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) @ Detroit Lions (6-5) 11-28, 12:35 EST Fox: Lions win;
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-6) 8:35 NBC: Steelers win;
Arizona Cardinals (7-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) 12-1, 1:00 Fox: Philly wins;
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) @ Carolina Panthers (8-3) 1:00 Fox: Bucs win;
Tennessee Titans (5-6) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-4) 1:00 CBS: Colts win;
St. Louis Rams (5-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-4) 4:10 Fox: 49ers win;
Denver Broncos (9-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) 4:30 CBS: Chiefs win;
Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) @ San Diego Chargers (5-6) 4:30 CBS: Cincy wins;
New Orleans Saints (9-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (10-1) 12-2, 8:45 ESPN: SEA wins.
NFL Hunch Line
Photo Credit: Packers cheer / 9-26-10 / wc.cca / M. Morbeck