Green Bay Packers: Most Heroic Super Bowl Champion Ever
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Behold the Power of Cheese.
The state of Wisconsin exports more cheese than any other nation in the world, and that is why it is home to Cheeseheads: Both the headgear and the so-nicknamed fans of the World Champion Green Bay Packers.
But there are plenty of other cheese references that can be made with this team. Cliches like "Next man up," and "this team is unified," or "they have been through the fire" apply more to the Packers in 2010 than any team in NFL history.
Green Bay lost the fourth-most games to Opening Day starters in NFL history at 91, winning four more games than any of the other three teams. But that only tells half the story.
There were 16 players on injured reserve at the end of the season. Eleven of them were on the defensive side of the ball, where the Packers still finished in the top-five in total yards, passing yards, sacks and points allowed.
Some of those injuries came to players who stepped up to take the place of the injured starters, meaning the player relied on each Sunday was the third-string player. Howard Green, cut by the New York Jets, filled in for the Packers; Erik Walden, cut by the 7-9 Miami Dolphins mid-season, was a starter for nearly three months.
No team has ever endured so many injuries and won a Super Bowl. And the adversity does not stop there.
How many titles will Aaron Rodgers end up with?
The Packers have one of the smallest payrolls in the league, increasing the intense scrutiny management was under for making the bold decision to not take Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre.
His replacement, Aaron Rodgers, endured half a fan base blaming him and faced vitriol from those he tried his best for. A difficult first season that ended with five consecutive losses before a season-ending sixth win of the season only cultivated that negativity.
But the Packers endured.
The next season, we had to watch as Favre exacted his revenge on the team that gave him his start and the fans who once loved and cheered him as a member of the rival Minnesota Vikings. He won both head-to-head match-ups en route to a division title and was within a play of the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, despite accounting for five touchdowns and leading his team to 45 points on the road against the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, Rodgers was tagged with a loss.
It seemed the world was against him, with a plethora of bad calls in one of the most poorly-officiated playoff games in history. It also seemed he would never be able to shake the shadow of Favre.
But this season, everything on and off the field collapsed on Favre like the roof of the stadium he played in under the snowfall of December. The Vikings went down with him, but with an injury to Rodgers that cost the team two losses, the Packers still could not win the division.
He returned to face elimination games in the final two weeks of the season, leading a blowout victory and a tight, low-scoring win. He led the team to road victories over the top three seeds in the NFC just to make it to the Super Bowl.
But the injuries were to continue. Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson went down with a broken collarbone before the end of the first half, standout nickel corner Sam Shields was out for almost a full quarter with injury, and Packers all-time leading receiver Donald Driver missed more than a half with a severe ankle sprain.
Yet the Packers made no excuses, and held on for the win over the team that had won two Super Bowls over the previous six seasons. Perhaps no team overcame this much to be champions in any sport.
The cheese does indeed stand alone.
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