Yes, it's true. I was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan up until the time that Brett Favre retired. It was nothing personal against Mr. Brett Favre. The story behind the story is simply this: every time I watched the Packers play, during the Favre years, they lost. This wouldn't have seemed like a true story, but the theory was put to the test during the 1990s.
In 1991, I was still living at home. My mom, Marlene, is a rabid Packers fan and raised me to be a Packers fan. From the preseason to the Super Bowl, everyone my mom knew would know not to call during the game. Talking to Mom during the game was like talking to a wall. She would respond in short, terse answers, punctuated by screams of either glee (RUN!) or disappointment (THE REF IS A BEARS FAN!).
This in itself was quite humorous, to see my five-foot tall, hundred pound mother screaming at a television set with big, burly football players on it. In 1991, as I was forced to watch the Packers, the team went 4-12 with Don "Magic" Majkowski leading the team. In the 1992 season, during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Magic went down with a torn ligament and Brett Favre walked into our lives.
For the next four seasons, the Packers held winning records. However, it was determined that whenever I watched the Packers play, the team would lose. Their 9-7 season of 1994? I can almost guarantee that I watched the seven games that they lost. My mom and brother Dan were beside themselves. How could this be? And they decided to blame the loses on the fat kid. Me.
The theory was put to the test during the 1995 season. I had graduated from high school, much to my family's joy, and moved out on my own. As I was off doing things that normal 18-year-old girls do, I was not watching the Packer games on Sunday. This resulted in an 11-5 season for the Packers. The time that I did spend time with my family on Sundays resulted in the five of the 11-5 season.
The Packers made the playoffs that year and beat the Falcons (37-20), the 49ers (27-17) and then went on to play the Cowboys. I figured, the curse was over! I watched the Dallas Cowboys play the Packers in the NFC Championship game. And watched in horror as the Packers lost 38-27.
The time for me to be a Packers fan was over. It was time for me, as a football fan, to support another team. One who would appreciate me and love me for all my loss-causing ways: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mike Alstott jerseys were purchased. The pirate ship foam hat became a fixture both at work and at home. Co-workers ribbed me endlessly about my love for the Buccaneers, until I would flatly tell them that I could not watch the Packers or else they would lose.
That seemed to take the wind out of their chest as they would look at me with solemn, sad looks: "Well, Jackie, I guess you can root for the Bucs because you AREN'T watching the Packers. Don't think about listening to them on the radio either."
If the Packers were losing, and people THOUGHT that I was watching the game, my phone would ring: "Are you watching the game? Stop watching it right now." There would be no Packer games for me.
In 1996, the ultimate dream of any Packers fan happened: a Super Bowl appearance. A friend of mine arranged for a Packers Super Bowl party at his house. Family members and friends crowded into the living room, all wearing their finest Packer attire and consuming massive quantities of alcohol (as any good Packer party seems to have). Snacks were brought out into the living room to share with the guests.
I couldn't tell you if they were good or not, as I was not allowed to not venture out of the kitchen until the final minute of the game. I can not tell you if it was a good game or not, as I was not allowed to witness the miracle of the Packers winning the Super Bowl. What I can tell you about this great day was that Jell-O shots are a dangerous combination with salsa. And thus ended the Super Bowl for me.
As the years passed, I received less ribbing about my love for the Buccaneers once the division split happened. Prior to a trip to Florida (St. Petersburg to see relatives), my supervisor had one demand: a John Lynch jersey from Florida. It was okay to root for the Bucs once they didn't have to play the Packers anymore.
However, I could not watch ANY of the Bucs games anymore on television, as they weren't shown in Wisconsin. What was a girl to do? Turn into a Vikings fan?
Then, Brett Favre retired. If you lived in Wisconsin during that time, this news was greeted with extreme sadness. His retirement was the top story on my local news channel for days. When Aaron Rodgers was announced as the new quarterback, it was greeted with extreme skepticism. If you have never had the privilege of speaking to a Wisconsin Packers fan about this situation, the conversation goes something like this:
"Yah, hey, did you hear that that Brett Favre retired?"
"Oof, yah, I did. Now what are we going to do?"
Yes, we. "We," in Wisconsin, means "we" are the Packers, as "we" are a community owned team. This can be used as, "We kicked the Bears' butts, now didn't we?" or "We don't know about that kid. You know, the new one?" "Oh yah, that Aaron Ridges?" "Rodgers, I think." "Oof, yah." We sound a little bit like "Fargo" when we talk about the Packers.
When Brett Favre retired, I figured I didn't have anything to lose. I would watch the Packers to my heart's content, as nobody expected too much from Aaron Rodgers. If he didn't work out, "we" would have to find a different quarterback.
When Brett Favre came out of retirement, and said he wanted to play again, it threw my whole world for a loop. I was one of the "LET AARON RODGERS PLAY" people and it was for purely selfish reasons: I wanted to watch the Packers again.
The 2008 season sent a shiver through the Packer Nation, as if we were in the frozen tundra all summer long. We watched training camp videos religiously to see the new quarterback. We watched the news to see if Brett Favre's plane was going to land in Green Bay, and the almost O.J. Simpson-like, car chasing video montage of Brett Favre leaving Lambeau and flying away...
The marriage was not only over between Favre and the Packers, but it also divided families (do we root for the Jets or the Pack? Do we cheer for Rodgers? What do we do?) and caused many discussions in churches, bars and community events. The fans were adrift.
The 2008 season ended with a 6-10 record. However, Aaron Rodgers proved he could play. Hope sprung anew in Wisconsin. Next year ended even better: 11-5 with a playoff game (Cardinals).
I began to sneak in Packers games: one here or there, win or loss. The curse was broken! My family and friends stopped calling to see if I was watching the game. They stopped threatening to make me turn my back to the television when the game was on.
And the Packers were WINNING.
I can't say enough about the 2010 season so far. While the Packers have suffered extreme injuries and have had six losses, the stunning games that they have had thus far in the playoffs have filled my Packers loving soul with glee.
I can, again, watch the Packers without the fear of causing their loss. Packers fans are a superstitious bunch, and I count myself among them. I WILL be watching the Pack take on the Bears during the NFC Championship game. Now, let us hope that I will not receive any phone calls to turn my back during the game.