Back in June, the day before the Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup, I wrote this story about the rarity of a historic moment. You can read or re-read it for yourself, but the gist of it is that, no matter how much or little you follow a team, you need to enjoy the hell out of championship moments. These historic moments, win or lose, will be captured in your memory as a fan for the rest of your life.
Every year the Packers have contended for a Super Bowl title I’ve thought back to 1997 and the only Packers championship team I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. I was only 9 years old and still in my infancy as a football fan.
Thinking back on it 14 years later, I don’t really remember much specifics of the moment. I remember watching the game with my dad and others, and some key plays such as Favre’s bomb to open the game and Desmond Howard’s kickoff return for a touchdown. But I don’t remember any emotions I had, simply because I might not have had any authentic emotions for it.
After all, I only knew the Packers as being good back then. The 1996 season was only my second year following football, and the Packers made it to the NFC Championship game the year before. As far as I knew, they would contend for a Super Bowl every year.
That mentality went even farther the next year when I watched the Packers lose to John Elway and the Denver Broncos. I remember seeing the Packers lose and thinking “Oh well, it’s good that John Elways got a Super Bowl because he’s good and almost going to retire. The Packers can win next year.”
Fast-forward 13 years and I’m still waiting for next year. I didn’t appreciate 1997’s Super Bowl, nor invest as much in 1998’s because the Packers were going to have a chance to win the Super Bowl every year as far as I knew.
Now I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’ve suffered through 13 years of losing with the Packers. I haven’t. During that span, the Packers have been competitive almost every year. They made the playoffs in seven of those seasons and only had one season where they finished below .500.
Likewise, I’ve had thrills as a fan in other sports. When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 I considered myself to be at the perfect age. I was 18, had just started college and sports were the biggest part of my life. I will always consider myself lucky to have witnessed a White Sox championship not only in my lifetime, but in the prime of my fandom.
Four years later, the Blackhawks won a title and gave me a brand new experience, the thrill of (somewhat) being a bandwagon jumper and catching a ride on hockey glory.
Couple all of this with the six titles Michael Jordan and the Bulls won in the ’90s (although I kind of put them in the same category as the Packers’ title, being too young to fully appreciate it), and I’ve been extremely lucky as a sports fan. I could never compare myself to diehard Cubs fans and their years of suffering. I can’t imagine being a fan of Cleveland, Minnesota or Buffalo sports teams.
But the point is that you need to appreciate these moments when they happen, regardless of how often or infrequent they come. If I were a New York Yankees fan, I’d make sure to treasure every single World Series appearance, because while it might seem like the success is going to last forever, it might not. This could be the year the Yankees start a string of 15 straight losing seasons.
In sports, you just never know.
Which is one of the reasons I’m taking the four-hour trip home to watch the game with my dad on Sunday. Championship teams could only come around once a lifetime, so you need to put yourself in the position to create good memories. Even if the Packers lose on Sunday, it will be the memory of us watching our favorite team together and cheering with ever ounce of our sports fan being that lasts. Maybe that’s incredible corny, but what about being a sports fan isn’t corny?
So I’m going to sit in my basement on Sunday and watch the hell out of what could be the first of three straight Super Bowl appearances by the Packers. Or, it could be the last Packers Super Bowl I see in my lifetime.
Who knows? Either way, it’s going to be a historic moment that I’ll never forget.
Packers 24, Steelers 20