Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I can state with confidence that should you visit our house and the TV is on, it will be FOX Soccer Channel, unless it's Judge Judy time (my guilty pleasure) or unless the Packers are playing. You may think this a brave statement to make when writing a blog for a soccer website, but the truth be told I think most soccer fanatics in America will admit to also being hooked on a football team. Here in Wisconsin it would be gross sacrilege not to cheer on the Green and Gold and not to hold the Bears and Vikings in contempt.
Personally I have never been a huge football fan even though I dated a running back for the Detroit Lions for about three weeks back in the 60s. I did a very good job of pretending to understand what he was talking about by smiling, nodding, and looking him straight in the eyes. But I really haven't come much farther in my understanding of the nuances of the game. I know you need to drive down the field, get the ball in the end zone, and occasionally kick the ball for various reasons. I really don't know what a running back is, although according to the Lion I dated – a RB carries the ball during the drive down the field. I don't know if linebackers run or block or if they are offense or defense. I do know that a quarterback is offense because Brett Favre is the patron saint of offensive players.
Despite this paucity of knowledge and the fact that I really don't much enjoy American football, somehow every Sunday (or the odd Saturday, Thursday, and Monday) I find myself watching the Packers. This year it was fun to watch them; other years not so much. Sunday a week ago, the Packers played Seattle Seahawks (I grew up in Seattle and I love the Seahawk uniforms) at Lambeau Field in a raging snow storm. That was the most fun I ever had watching football. The Packer players were actually enjoying themselves. I expected them to all suddenly lie down and make snow angels during a time out. For a while the grounds crew tried to keep the field lines clear by shoveling and using some contraption that looked like a snow blower with a mustache, but eventually they gave up the battle, and ball placement was anyone's guess. My son Robbie played a soccer game in Fort Wayne, Indiana under the same conditions, only there we didn't have the benefit of a grounds crew. We parents swept off the sidelines and the goal box once. After that we let the elements win.
What a difference a week makes. This past Sunday the Packers again played at home against the NY Giants in -1 degree with a wind chill of -23 degrees. The announcers kept reminding everyone that this wasn't the coldest game ever. That honor went to a game in Cincinnati where the wind chill was -56 degrees. Having sat through a soccer game in Cincinnati in the snow I trust the announcers' data. This time the Packers did not look like they were having fun. The Giants didn't look like they were having fun either. Both teams did their best to lose the game and eventually the Packers won at losing. I knew four people who went to the game who got to sit through the bitter cold to watch the Packers lose and pay $500 each for the privilege. I seriously doubt I would have felt much differently at the end of the game whether the Packers won or lost because I doubt I could have felt anything! I actually expected uniforms to shatter into pieces when a player was tackled.
So now for seven months we can avoid American football and once again concentrate on the real football in our house. The MLS draft this weekend yielded three friends of my sons, so there was lots of dancing and whooping without Packer cheer. Now if you stop by you'll be able to win a bet with anyone you choose on what the Boyd's are watching, unless of course it is Judge Judy time, then you'll lose.
I have to add a footnote to this blog. . .my sister-in-law, Tamara Jenkins, who is married to my screenwriter brother, Jim Taylor, who won an Oscar for Sideways, just got an Oscar nomination for her original screenplay The Savages, which she also directed. If any of you are Academy members please vote for her. If you're not a member then at least go see the movie. It's great – poignant, funny, true to life, and the theaters are warm.