|My Packers cup from my 2013 trip to Lambeau Field. Photo by J. Berta|
A short while ago, The Green Bay Packers football season came to an end. Although they were able to force overtime, the Arizona Cardinals needed just two plays from scrimmage to score a touchdown and move on to the NFL Championship Game. Green Bay is headed to the airport and back home. The next time they put on jerseys and pads it will be at training camp.
There are those who will point out the errors, the missed penalties, the bounced balls, or the tipped balls, or the spot of Arizona's multiple third downs that were converted to a new set of "first and 10s." Here's the only thing that matters:
My team lost.
Yup, I said it. My team lost. And while I am at it, congrats to the Arizona Cardinals. They flat out out-played the Packers when it matters. Larry Fitzgerald might have had the game of his career and Carson Palmer scrapped the monkey off his back for not being able to win a playoff game. Now my sports focus will be firmly fixed on Iowa Basketball.
Here's the thing about being a fan: You have to accept the bargain that sometimes your team will lose. Sometimes it is a blowout, other times a tragic, heart-breaking last-second loss. Yet life goes on.
Now those of you who know me even somewhat well know my passion for Iowa football. You might say (and with some credibility), "Hey Jeno, why you going all stoic on us?" Aren't you the guy whose been known to yell at the top of your lungs when Iowa wins and brood like some character in a black-and-white foreign film when they lose?" True, all true.
So why am I not cursing the darkness and instead am "lighting a candle" of some (sorta) positive comments? Simple: I want to. Look, I'm not going to kid anyone, of course I am disappointed that Green Bay lost. If anything, it would have made for another week of following ESPN and wearing my Green Bay sweatshirts, announcing to the world (well, the world of the Iowa Quad Cities) that my team was still in the hunt for the Super Bowl.
Yet as I type this, it is way late on a Saturday night and by doing this blog post, I am allowing myself a way to process a disappointment and also do something I have control over, if only a blog post that will be read by a few people.
Here's the thing about sports: Unless you're the player or coach or team owner, whatever happens on the field is not your problem. If your team wins, great. By all means, enjoy the moment, revel in the win. But if your team comes up short, know this, it ain't your fault. You are no more to blame for the loss than the Titanic sinking.
This past week, we all had a reminder of just how trivial sports can be and the dangers of placing upon pedestals those who play the game with morally questionable character. Lawrence Phillips, the phenomenal running back for the University of Nebraska in the mid 90s was found dead in his jail cell. It appears to be a suicide. Phillips was serving a long prison sentence and was likely to face the death penalty for the murder of his former cellmate. I've got a couple of links in the credits below about Phillips. Here is a life lost decades ago and a cautionary tale, to say the least.
As I watched the end of tonight's game, I found myself thinking of the line from Rambo where Stallone's character, John Rambo, is speaking with his former commander as the local police bear down on him. The commander, a Green Beret Full-Bird Colonel says, "It's over Johnny!" To which Stallone retorts, "Nothing is over! You just don't turn it off!" I've got the YouTube clip link below (presumed fair use/authorized sharing) for you to see it for yourself.
Well, to Mr. John Rambo, I respectfully retort: "Yes, yes you can turn it off. It's called pressing a button on the remote."
There is also another part of turning it off and that involves shifting your focus to something both positive and in your control. I don't care if it is doing dishes, folding laundry or doing a blog post. If it is something that means those two criteria, then it is time well-spent. For me, that's what writing this blog post does.
I suppose the next step in my ongoing self-improvement is to be able to bifurcate the disappointment in the loss from misplaced shame for that loss. I suspect many Packers fans will not be breaking out their "Green and Gold" tomorrow. Let's see if I have the gumption to wear my Packers sweatshirt tomorrow, stay tuned...
Be well my friends (and Go Pack GO!)