It is upon us. In less than two months the 2008 NFL season will begin, unfolding its own unique stories. As we did last year, TiT will be going through the 32 NFL teams and giving you a preview of who these teams will be, and why you should be watching them this NFL season. Unlike last year, however, this time we're bringing in some outside help and asking fellow bloggers who are fans of various NFL teams to discuss their teams' roles in this year's epic story. Anyone interested in contributing and getting their site plugged should shoot an email over to ThrowingIntoTraffic@gmail.com. Today, we begin the series with a look at the Green Bay Packers, courtesy of friend of TiT Cian over at Fuhbaw. We ask that you show some well-deserved uppercase love for his uniquely lowercase style.
the politics of make-up sex
how to take back the one who quit you?
that's the $64,000 question confronting the green bay packers, the city of green bay, and the state of wisconsin. what is the extent of this flirtation by brett favre to play again? is it another year with the packers before the inevitable break-up? is it watching him play for a bitter rival and all the attendant feelings of jealousy that well up to the surface?
or is it simply that last gasp of a relationship once passionate now comfortable but ultimately bad for both parties and certainly unsustainable for the long haul?
when zac asked me a couple weeks ago - a lifetime ago? - to write this piece on my beloved green bay packers, the angles appeared so quaint, so universal. how did a team with so little change on the roster and staff portend such weighty unknowns? the 2008 packers were a mathematical improbability, maximum stability projecting a minimal certainty. coming off a 13-3 campaign, a nfc championship game loss, a top-to-bottom rebuilding project's culmination, and an underrated coaching staff's maturation, the only major question the 2008 packers needed to answer is how to deal with life after their star quarterback?
the packers would try to get by relying on an emergent defense. end aaron kampman leading a defensive line young and hungry to prove their meddle in battle. the potential stars at linebacker, nick barnett and aj hawk, seamlessly flowing to the action, working as one to dictate the tempo to opposing offenses. corners charles woodson and al harris beating the ravages of the game like they jam receivers at the line, mentoring a young group of backs in this fight for every yard in three dimensions down the field.
the packers would try to make aaron rodgers's life easier with a stable offense tailored to his smart game. the line featuring consistency on the edges, tackles chad clifton and mark tauscher, easing pressure on the young guards battling it out inside. running back ryan grant bulldozing through the line with that power and shake, pulling defenders up and up to stop his boom-more-often-than-bust game. and, of course, the crazy talented receiving corps - donald driver, greg jennings, james jones, and rookie jordy nelson - blazing through the town, the run-after-the-catch bandits, stealing what isn't given.
but like any messy, amazing, contentious, codependent relationship the end is never easy.
this series is called premature evaluations, and certainly the logistics of make-up sex are rife with those embarrassing moments, hesitations, miscommunicated desires, and shoddy performances. there have been some already, there are more to come.
most important, with favre's potential return to green bay or someone else, the packers risk losing both quarterbacks, one to the long eluded but still impending diminished skills of old age, the other to the unending drama of a dream deferred.
if favre is installed as the starter once this stare down with management is over, rodgers will most certainly be gone, either traded or simply marking the days until his contract expires in 2009.
if management vacillates too much yet still ultimately sides with rodgers, green bay loses a legend to trade or release and could still lose rodgers if he wants to distance himself from the franchise that toyed with his career for too long. the franchise tag can always technically keep him, but has a team ever risked that nasty situation with their most important player?
unlike a fantasy menage a trois (and very much like real ones) this is a confusing mess where no one seems too sure of what must happen next. if the packers can't trade favre he will most certainly play for minnesota, where he's received such warm reception these last couple years. if the packers do trade him it will be to a contender where his every success will be measured disproportionately to green bay's every struggle.
i have faith in this team to fight through their schedule, but what of a divided locker room wanting simply the best man for the job? and is that the best man for the job now? or the best man for the job two years from now and on?
either way, we all know it must end sooner or later... the question is when.
a relationship's end leads one to hard truths. two weeks ago the packers' future, that considerable unknown, was scary, but it was also mine as fan and theirs as a team. certainly these packers faced the creation of their own unique identity, a task monumental and often postponed. but all the parts and tools were readied as well as they could be in preparation.
now the packers risk losing both quarterbacks as this drama unfolds.
maybe the real question isn't how to take back the one who quit you... maybe the real question is who's fucking whom?