If you live in Wisconsin this week, these are wonderful times. The Packers are world champions for the 13th time. The three Lombardi Trophies proudly displayed in the final room of the Packers Hall of Fame are about to get a new friend. (Side note: We love the spotlights on the trophies, the music playing in the background and the montage of Packers greats on the walls in that room, but they really need a better ventilation system in there. Every time we’re in there, it always gets so dusty.)
But if you live outside of Wisconsin, the Packers’ status as Super Bowl champions can be fun for another reason: Gloating. This is particularly true for the Minneapolis chapter of Ol’ Bag of Donuts (Adam and Chris).
As most of you know, all three of us lived in Minnesota when we started this blog, which of course meant dealing with Vikings fans. We’ve made no secret on this site about how we feel about them — how laughable and obnoxious we find it they try to equate their legacy with ours one minute, only to grumble about how we care too much and we’re living in the past the next minute. They seem to love to point out Minneapolis’ vibrant arts scene as some kind of evidence of their sophistication, forgetting that outside of the Twin Cities, most of Minnesota is exactly like most of Wisconsin. And guys, if you can show us your last ticket stub from the Guthrie Theater or the Walker Arts Center, we’ll back off.
Most of those arguments were baseless in the first place, and now, they ring completely hollow. “Stop living in the past” is useless, because the Packers are the present champions of the world. Shots at Packers fans for caring too much just come off as phony, because the classier half of the Vikings fanbase will readily admit how much they long for what we have. The Metrodome collapsed, Brad Childress tossed a third-round pick to the Patriots on his way out of town, the Randy Moss trade was a joke, the StarCaps case may finally bring down the Williams Wall, Adrian Peterson is a free agent after next season and Brett Favre is gone. Oh, and the team might move to Los Angeles. Other than the Vikings’ infancy in the early 1960s, there may be no point in the history of these two franchises where the disparity has been as great as it is right now.
And because so many Packers fans live in Minnesota, either dating to before the Vikings arrived or owing something to the massive influx of Wisconsinites who cross the border for college, there are plenty of opportunities for trash-talk between the two fanbases. The Minneapolis Star Tribune published a story today called “Title etiquette: Packer backers need to behave.” It was written with tongue firmly in cheek, and it was good entertainment. And in the spirit of good entertainment, we’d like to respond with a few points of our own. Consider this the OBOD Super Bowl Celebration Manifesto:
–The article states that Packers fans in Minnesota are only allowed to discuss the Super Bowl if it’s brought up to them first. While we agree it’s not good to excessively rub Vikings fans’ noses in it, we can’t help but think this is all some sort of cosmic course correction for 2009, when Vikings fans, who had spent 16 years spewing bile at Brett Favre, were only too happy to remind us that they had our beloved hero. They told us at every turn how jealous we must be, even when we’d assert we were perfectly happy with our young quarterback and we’d caution them about how the playoffs would inevitably turn out. And we’re sorry, but to talk endless smack at one point and cry foul when it turns on you is just, well, so Vikings. We’ll behave (mostly), but after the Favre soap opera, know that you’ve earned yourselves a few jabs.
–We’ve been asked to refrain from mentioning the 13-championship disparity between these two franchises. Again, we at OBOD will use some discretion, but haven’t Vikings fans earned a little of that with all of their “Stop living in the past!” rhetoric? Championships, after all, are what you play for, and the Packers have more of them than any other team. And it’s easy not to remember the past when yours is so forgettable (no Super Bowls since 1976, and four losses in four tries).
–Under no circumstances will we cease to mention the massive disparity in quarterbacking between these two franchises, especially after the Vikings begged, pandered (and possibly tampered) to get Favre, and tried telling us how much we still loved him over the last two years. One team had a quarterbacking plan while the other gambled and lost. That fact is pertinent, it’s timely and even in intelligent football discussions, it’s central to the difference between these two teams. Though Favre himself does not need to be the topic of discussion, the effects of backing Favre, or not backing him, will reverberate far into the future for these two teams.
–Finally, please, please, please stop with the tired old lines like, “All cheeseheads sniff paint thinner!” and “Packers fans are just drunk all the time!” We’ve all lived in Minnesota. We’ve gone to college there. It doesn’t look much different than Wisconsin. Secondly, if Super Bowl XLV proved anything, it’s that the Packers are truly a national franchise with support too broad to confine to Wisconsin. And finally, to those who would trumpet Minnesota’s sophistication edge, we have two words for you: St. Cloud.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s how we at OBOD plan to celebrate:
–We will joyfully wear our Packers championship gear throughout the offseason, even into the summer, but we will not utter the words “Vikings” unless we are asked about football first. If we are provoked, we are equipped with all manner of weapons of mass debunking to set the record straight. But we will keep our celebration on the right side of the “We’re the champs”/”We’re the champs and you suck” border.
–We will revel in the irony of Aaron Rodgers’ ascension and Ted Thompson’s vindication in the wake of Brett Favre’s departure, but we will keep most of the Favre rhetoric confined to what he said when he was forcing his way out of Green Bay, not when he played with the Vikings. There will be more attention on Favre’s relationship with the Packers going forward than his relationship with the Vikings anyway, and frankly, we don’t care enough about him to bother. He’s got his own problems these days, anyway.
–We will concentrate more energy on our newly renewed rivalry with the Chicago Bears, which frankly should have more spice than the Packers/Vikings feud anyway. We greatly enjoy the respectful, historical tenor of the Packers-Bears rivalry, and the run-up to the NFC Championship Game put that in a new light. The one problem between the Packers and Bears is that both teams are so rarely good at the same time, and there’s a chance that both will remain competitive for a few years to come (though we have our doubts about Jay Cutler). Still, we are hopeful that the playoffs put Packers-Bears back in its rightful place as the pre-eminent NFC North rivalry, ahead of the big-brother/little-brother dynamic that has always marked Packers-Vikings.
–Lastly, we will root for the Vikings to get a new stadium and remain in Minneapolis. Though we are frequently annoyed with Vikings fans, we recognize the strength of the NFC North lies in the fact it has four teams who have all been in the league for more than 50 years, and butting heads just as long. The NFC East is the only other division in football that has such a rich tradition of rivalries, and if the Vikings were to leave, something would be lost. We’ve always said we don’t hate the Vikings as much as we love to hate them, which means in the end, it’s all in good fun.
We feel these are reasonable terms under which to celebrate the Packers’ most recent Lombardi Trophy, and we plan to adhere to them throughout the offseason.
Finally, a note going forward: All we’ve ever wanted from Vikings fans is that they know their place. They’ve had plenty of successful seasons in the last 50 years, dominating the division through the 1970s and remaining competitive throughout the 1980s and 1990s. They haven’t anywhere near the dry spell between winning seasons that the Packers had between Lombardi and Holmgren, though their playoff failures speak for themselves. We’re not suggesting the Vikings are the Detroit Lions, but we’re also not going to suffer the logic they’re the Packers, Bears, Steelers, Cowboys or even the Giants. Championships do matter, and when there’s no football being played (which could be the case for a while), they’re what keep the banter lively between fanbases. The Vikings, historically, have been a good franchise that has struggled to achieve greatness, often falling short in memorable fashion. The Packers have some goofy traditions, but they’re also the most decorated team in the history of the league. Respect the economy of scale.
We hope these terms are agreeable to all, and we’ll be rooting for the Vikings to get a new home this winter. And, we hope, we’ll be butting heads with the Vikings as we chase title No. 14 next fall.
–The Ol’ Bag of Donuts staff