I came into the 2013 NFL season not thinking about the Green Bay Packers, to be honest. My rooting interests were solely with the San Francisco 49ers. I grew up a huge fan of Jerry Rice and the 49ers of the 90’s. I was also a Denver Bronco fan, but that was more a product of region that anything else. Once the Broncos picked up the evil Manning brother, my fandom soured, but that’s a whole other story.
So I watched the Packers opening game only because it was against the 49ers at the Stick. Clay Matthews made me angry, with his pregame smack talk and the ensuing late hit he put on Colin Kaepernick. But, the 49ers continued their ownership of Green Bay and torched the Packers’ secondary.
I watched from afar as Green Bay got back on track behind Aaron Rodgers, and stormed out to a 5-2 start. The Packers were suddenly looking like one of the best teams in the league, with their only other loss coming against the Cincinnati Bengals in a thriller.
Then the worst happened, Rodgers was knocked out against their rival Bears and his injury was splashed all over the news wires. The Packers all of a sudden were 5-3, losers in the Bears game, and the consesus was that they were probably done.
That’s about when I started writing about Green Bay for this site, and it seemed like the worst timing but turned out to be a fun, compelling ride. They promptly got beat up in their next two games against the Eagles and Giants, while trying to figure out who to play in Rodgers’ place.
I watched Seneca Wallace get knocked out after a drive, and thought “now they are really done.” I watched Scott Tolzien give his best efforts for a few weeks, but fail to put enough points on the board and throw some ugly interceptions. Then I watched Matt Flynn come in and do his best to save the day, leading the Packers to a season saving tie, in one of the most drawn out, mind numbing games I have sat through.
When they regressed the next week on Thanksgiving, getting trounced by the Lions, I thought for sure that it was over. Even Detroit can’t blow this division lead. Then again, I should have known, given the Lions history. The Lions started losing and Flynn led the Packers to two of the most unreal comeback wins in recent sports memory. Trailing 21-10 to Atlanta and 26-3 to Dallas at halftime had me ready to throw the towel in for the Packers. But, somehow, the Packers responded in the second halves of both games, showing me a team with the strongest hearts and will.
I have always had respect for Green Bay, in their rich history and tradition. I have always liked their colors, uniform, and helmets. I love that they play outdoors, on frozen tundra, in all the elements like football is supposed to be played. I rooted for Brett Favre in his last chance at a title with Green Bay, when they lost that heartbreaker at home to the Giants in 2007.
They gained my ultimate respect by fighting the way they did to make the playoffs. It was only fitting that Rodgers made his return against the Bears, the team that knocked him out, in a winner-take-all game to end the regular season. The most exciting moment, for me, of the 2013 NFL season came in that game. Fourth and 8, with the game, and season, on the line, Aaron Rodgers made a vintage Rodgers play, escaping a sack and firing a missile down field. I held my breath with the rest of Packer Nation as the ball hung in the air, and jumped off my couch screaming in joy after the ball fell into Cobb’s hands for the winning touchdown.
The 49ers made a good run, and lost a heart breaker, the Super Bowl will probably be entertaining on a few levels. But when I think about the 2013 NFL season, I will always think about the rollercoaster ride that was the Packers’ season and that clutch, division-clinching heave by Rodgers. I won’t be buying a cheesehead any time soon, but it’s fair to say that this season following the Packers certainly made me a fan.
To see what we’ve talked about this week, head over to the WEEKLY REWIND.