Purging leftover thoughts from the fiasco in Seattle
The traditional connotation for the word “catharsis” has to do with purification or purgation. To put it in layman’s terms, it is “to blow off some steam.” The mood I am aiming for in this morning’s short post, however, is Aristotle’s original usage of the word: “It is the human soul that is purged of its excessive passions.”
Assuredly, football shouldn’t cause a person to purge his or her soul of its “excessive passions”, and the definition might be overdramatic, but it fits. Packer fans can’t carry the weight of Monday’s officiating clusterf*** around any longer. It’s not as if putting ourselves in the proper mindset will help the team – they, after all, are the ones who really need to forget about it and move on. But for our collective sake, we should let it go.
If you’re anything like me, you went to work on Tuesday in a daze. It was as though I had a hangover (and considering the two stiff drinks I poured myself after the final result, in my case, it may have actually been a hangover). It was difficult to escape reminders of The Play in Question, much like the nauseating whiffs of alcohol the morning after you’ve had too many.
By Thursday, I’d discussed the Fail Mary pass with people whose opinions I care for (my friends, my parents), people whose opinions I don’t care for (my Viking fan in-laws, two of my customers, people on Twitter) and digested countless articles and sports radio segments about the Packer loss. I’ve come to a few conclusions that need to be vented before I lay them to rest.
Okay. Let’s get cathartic up in here.
As the week went on, something weird happened. The few Viking and Bear fans I associate with, as well as local radio hosts, turned from empathetic to aggressive, offering various riffs on the sentiment that “it’s about time the Packers got screwed.” I’ve chosen three quotes, because they spur catharsis, and because they seem to encapsulate much of the backlash to the backlash about Golden-gate.
Quote: “I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy… Just hard to feel too bad for the team that gets to play at Lambeau 8 times or more a year… You guys have the greatest home field advantage in sports, mostly due to officiating.”
Catharsis: The crux of this argument is that the Packers routinely receive preferential treatment from the officials, especially at home. I suppose people consider Green Bay to be the NFL’s darling, and they resent this idea. Fact is, dismay at the officiating during the final Seahawks drive, and the game’s ultimate play, ought to need no qualifiers. It could have happened to any team. The correct response is unmitigated disappointment – period. If you’re a fan of the NFL, if you have money invested in fantasy football, or if you bet on the games themselves, you ought to be angry that such colossal incompetence could influence on-field happenings and cost a team – ANY TEAM – a victory. End. Of. Story.
Quote: ”I’ll be happy when you Packer fans move on. It was a bad call in a week 3 game. They also had one of the most atrocious o-line performances ever. Stop blame-placing and move on.”
Catharsis: While it’s true the Packers’ offensive showing in the first half was despicable, and Mike McCarthy’s stunning inability to adjust his play calling (two called running plays in the face of an incredible four man rush) during the first half was particularly troubling, the problem with this argument is that despite all this, the Packers deserved to win the game anyway. Why? The defense was fantastic. Other than the first Golden Tate touchdown reception, they were air tight all night long. One of the hallmarks of a good team is resiliency, of one unit picking up the other when they’re having an off night, and clearly, the Packers did that.
Catharsis: I’m not sure examining these quotes one-by-one will help my standing as a “whiny b****” in this person’s eyes, but I’ll close with this: It’s okay to be a little shocked and upset when something stupid happens to your favorite football team. The fact that the Packers were already 1-1 and not living up to lofty preseason expectations probably heightened the importance of the game in many fans’ eyes. While it’s true that the regular officials are back, and that even the real ones make bonehead calls, that doesn’t mitigate the reality that the Packers had a win stolen from them due to officials’ incompetence.
Were Packer drives kept alive by questionable calls earlier in the fourth quarter? Absolutely. But the phantom pass interference on Sam Shields, the uncalled offensive pass interference on Golden Tate in the end zone, and the botched communication between officials on the game’s final play… all of it, together, is something we Packer fans had the right to complain about this week.
The real problem with the above quote: it fails to recognize that every other fan base in the country would’ve reacted more or less the same way. There’s nothing unique about Packer fans that made our reaction more or less egregious than, say, a hypothetical Vikings, Bears or Cowboys reaction. To think otherwise is absurd.
Maybe asking for empathy is too much, but it is, after all, just a game. The above quotes go beyond good-natured ribbing – they’re reflective of general attitudes that “a fan of a different team is inherently different than I am.” Which is also absurd. But what’s done is done.
Concerns about the Packers’ playoff prospects, potential tie-breaker scenarios, etc – all of that is too abstract to get worked up over. Green Bay will have plenty of opportunities to atone for this.
I guess I’m burying all of it. When broached with the subject, I’ll defend the notion that the Packers were screwed, but I won’t get animated. I already feel more like a crazed fan (which is what I loathe) than an intelligent, level-headed observer (which is what I aspire to be) just by writing this article… but if you can’t let a little of the “angry fan” out after a loss like that, when can you?
In about five and a half hours, the “Martyr Bowl” (as Yahoo’s Mike Silver cleverly calls it) between the Packers and the Saints begins. And when it does, the road to the day we all look back at this and laugh about it begins to be built.
I look forward to the day we get there.
BreakTheHuddle is a fan of the Twins, Timberwolves and the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers. Reach him at BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com, @BreakTheHuddle on Twitter or leave a comment below!