The Pack Is Back, Nope

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Cold, cold cold, but no frozen precipitation, so I’m all good. I’m working indoors anyway, so I shouldn’t whine about the weather, but I do. It’s what I do. That freezing wind slapping me in the face as I cross over the driveway between Number Two at TackyToo to the Rec room is as good a wake up call as a cup of coffee. Almost. I may make this painting job last until Spring.  We’ll see how that stacks up against Mulva’s “Honey Do” list.

While on break from my painting I happen to catch a few moments of the playoff game from Phoenix. Well, if I’m being truthful, I actually knocked off a little early and plopped down in my recliner in the lounge to watch the game. Mulva was attending a special meeting over at The Full Gospel Original Church of God, and I thought it would be a good time to catch up a little bit on the professional game. I ran across to Number Two during half time and fixed the biggest Dagwood sandwich I could throw together for supper, and headed back to watch a darn good game. Watching the fastest of the fast, collide with the strongest of the strong, is what Pro football is all about, and these guys were playing like their lives depended on the outcome.

The game was very evenly matched, and the stats bear out the closeness of the score. How close? So close that with 5 seconds left in the game, Aaron Rogers threw a ball that went forty yards high and forty yards deep to his receiver crossing into the end zone with two defenders in tow. Jeff Janis made an unreal leaping catch and came down with the ball trapped on his chest to give Green Bay the chance for a tie, and overtime. The extra point secured the overtime and we were in store for more excitement. The game did not disappoint, from a failed overtime toss of the coin, to a failed attempt to cover Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals receiver. About a minute into overtime, the game was over. The Packers were sent back to Green Bay, to “wait until next year”. The Cardinals will move on.

I’ve been a “sideways” Packer fan for a long time. During the Lombardi era you couldn’t ignore the success of the team, no matter who you pulled for. Players like Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Carroll Dale, Paul Hornung, Forrest Gregg, Jerry Kramer, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Willie Wood, Ray Nitschke, Dave Robinson, and Herb Adderley, were all stars, that as kids, we wanted to emulate in our playground games.

The fact that a small little suburb of Milwaukee could put together multiple championship teams that compete annually for the title is astounding to me. Green Bay is smaller than Savannah for gosh sakes. How could a team in such a tiny market area hold on and not only survive but thrive? Probably being one of the founding teams of professional football has some bearing, but tradition only gets you so far in this age of billion dollar stadiums and multi million dollar practice facilities. What’s the secret sauce for selling out every home game since 1960? And, I’m talking home games that at times look like scenes from Ice Station Zebra.

Well, it seems that the town of Green Bay has a rather unique situation, they own their team. The good citizens of the area are invested in their sports franchise, and make all of the determinations about the team’s future. According to Wikipedia: “The Packers are the only community-owned franchise in American major league professional sports. Rather than being the property of an individual, partnership, or corporate entity, they are held in 2014 by 360,584 stockholders. No one is allowed to hold more than 200,000 shares, approximately 4% of the 5,011,557 shares currently outstanding.”

How cool is that? No wealthy owner threatening to move the team elsewhere if you don’t build him a billion dollar stadium, or generally kiss his behind with tax breaks and changes of property codes. Sounds like a recipe for success that a lot of other communities could model. But wait, there’s more. We return to Wikipedia for “the rest of the story”: “Green Bay is the only team with this form of ownership structure in the NFL, which is in direct violation of current league rules stipulating a maximum of 32 owners per team, with one holding a minimum 30% stake. The Packers’ corporation was grandfathered when the NFL’s current ownership policy was established in the 1980s. As a publicly held nonprofit, the Packers are also the only American major-league sports franchise to release its financial balance sheet every year.”

To clarify, the 1% passed a rule that the fans of a team couldn’t own their team. Just buy outrageously priced tickets and merchandise. As the owners of three franchises converge on Los Angeles to punish their cities for not building them the new stadium they wanted, we’ll get to watch again what happens when the rich kid decides to take his bat and ball and go home. I think I might be a full time Packer fan, if I followed Pro football.

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