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Nightmares put to rest by Rodgers

January 24, 2011
The Mining Journal

Three years ago, I found myself along with 72,740 fans and my father, Jim, walking silently out of Lambeau Field.

I wasn't frozen from the 1-below temperature or 23-below wind chill. I wasn't sad the Packers lost. I wasn't angry, at the time, at someone for throwing away the game in overtime. I was not kicking myself for spending money on NFC Championship tickets.

I just was empty. I was stunned. I was in disbelief.

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I went into the day with more hope and optimism than anyone could imagine, set to give my father the Ice Bowl he never had.

The last time the Green Bay Packers hosted a sub-zero NFC Championship game, it was called the NFL Championship game and my grandfather was there.

My father was not. He was woken up that morning along with his brothers to shovel the driveway and try to get grandpa's car to Lambeau Field for the game.

It's a story told every Christmas and I used it, along with my mother, to get him to take my second ticket to the game.

The moment we had been waiting for never came, however.

We shared some hot chocolate and warm food in a frozen parking lot. We watched in the atrium as Phillip Rivers fell apart against the New England Patriots. Our hopes soared out of control as Lawrence Tynes missed field goal after field goal. We had already decided what beer we were going to drink first at Stadium View after the Packers won the toss - a Spotted Cow.

Then that one guy threw the darn ball right to Corey Webster and before Tynes could step back on the field for the game-winning kick, all 72,740 of us were headed for our cars in what was the longest walk out of Lambeau of our lives.

That night has stuck with me for the last three years. I wondered if that was the Packers last chance at a Super Bowl for the next 5-10 seasons. My father went 29 years without seeing the Packers in a Super Bowl - and he has never seen the Cubs in a World Series - and with my skid extending to 10 years with that loss to the Giants, I was wondering if I would meet the same fate.

But here the Green Bay Packers are in Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers, having overcome 15 players on injured reserve - seven of which started on opening day - to win the George Halas Trophy against the rival Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

Sunday in Chicago was by no means pretty. It wasn't perfect. It was nerve racking, stressful and at times, downright dreadful.

However, Sunday's victory was exactly what the Green Bay Packers' season has been from the start of training camp. It has been everything we look for in sports. It had the highs of beating up on No. 4, the lows of losing to the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins, the heros like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews and even the underdogs overcoming adversity like James Starks and Frank Zombo.

This has indeed been a magical season.

I'm going to enjoy these next two weeks and to non-Packers fans, I might be downright annoying, but I plan to enjoy this moment to the fullest.

And after the Packers hoist the Lombardi Trophy again at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6, I'll enjoy this for the rest of my life.

The Green Bay Packers are going to the Super Bowl. Go Pack Go!

Matt Wellens is sports editor for the Mining Journal. He can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His e-mail address is



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