One thing we possessed while growing up in northern Minnesota was a healthy respect for the Green Bay Packers. Before the Minnesota Vikings were established in 1961, the Packers were the National Football League franchise of choice in our area. In fact, many old time residents continued their allegiance to the Green and Gold well after the Vikings established the border battle between the two teams.
It wasn't that difficult for me to identify with Green Bay... I graduated from Greenway High School - our school colors were kelly green and white and the logo on our high school football helmets was the letter G, not surrounded by gold, but white. It was fashioned after the G on the Green Bay helmet. Even though our mascot was the Raider, Green Bay's influence on our school was as plain as the logo on our helmets. So, I'm sure that whoever designed the helmet logo thought everyone would resonate with the letter G - Greenway and Green Bay.
Through the years, I've enjoyed that relationship... adversarial as it may be at times. I've watched the purple gang battle the latter years of Bart Starr, Zeke Bratkowski, Lynn Dickey, the Magic Man Don Majkowski, Brett Favre and currently Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers and Favre have been in that role since 1992 - an amazing run of two starting quarterbacks in 24 years! That is the model of consistency*.
By comparison, during that same time frame (since 1992) the Vikings have had 21 different starting quarterbacks - Rich Gannon, Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper, Todd Bouman, Spergon Wynn (who?), Gus Frerotte, Tavaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb (that was a big mistake), Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman (nope, sorry, that was a bigger mistake) and currently Teddy Bridgewater. 2 starting quarterbacks versus 21 in 24 years... fan or no fan of Green Bay, that is remarkable!
We can only admire the effectiveness of Green Bay's front office when we understand how this model of consistency has also impacted the records of the two teams in that same time frame - Green Bay's cumulative regular season record during these 24 years is 244-138-1 compared to Minnesota's 206-175-1 (the one tie for each team was a 26-26 tie game in 2013 against each other). Green Bay has missed the playoffs only six times in that span of years compared to Minnesota missing the playoffs eleven times. In fact, another amazing stat is that either the Vikings or the Packers have finished first in their division 18 out of the 24 years!
So what does all of this conversation do for me or for you? I suppose it depends upon if you are a fan or not. No matter, it's just a backdrop to the biggest game of the year for both teams next Sunday when they square off on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay for the 2015 division championship. I'll be watching and rooting for the Vikings to win (as I always do) but I still possess that healthy respect for the Pack.
I just hope they are not all the way back this Sunday. It's Minnesota's time!
(*note: Green Bay did have a couple of games in that time frame where Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, and Seneca Wallace started a total of 9 games - all during Aaron Rodgers tenure. Rodgers was injured during that time. Favre had an amazing run of starting every game since he took over for Don Majkowski in 1992. He didn't miss one start in all of those years at Green Bay until Rodgers took over the starting role in 2008.)