Believe it or not, folks, the NFL season is much closer than you can possibly imagine. So close, in fact, that, if we're going to fit in every NFL team preview by the start of the season, we have to go this early. So there you have it.
Last year, we asked some of our favorite writers to opine why Their Favorite Team Was Better Than Yours. Ultimately, we found this constrictive, and it also might have killed James Frey. So this time, we've just asked them to just run free, talk about their team, their experience as a fan, their hopes, their dreams, their desires for oral sex. All our teams are now assigned; if you sent us an email and we didn't get back to you, we're sorry, and we accept your scorn. But today: Green Bay Packers.
Your author is Jeff Bercovici, an editor for Portfolio. His words are after the jump.
Brett, I owe you an apology.
I have broken faith. I have sinned against you in my heart.
A year ago at this time, I was saying unkind things about you to other Packers fans. Things like "It's time for him to retire before he ruins his legacy with another 30-interception season." And: "Every season he plays just postpones our next Super Bowl hopes by another year." And: "He's the only quarterback alive whose decisionmaking gets worse as he gets older."
Brett, I'm sorry. All those things I said about you? They were true. Face it: You're just not the same quarterback you were 10 years ago, and I don't mean physically. Half the time, you don't seem to have the heart for a whole 60-minute game. You'll squander a perfectly promising drive by throwing deep into double coverage, for no apparent reason other than to cut the tension. (Holmgren would've kicked your ass for it. Sherman didn't, which is probably why you keep doing it.) Then, you'll make that ridiculous little-boy grimace-face, like "How could this have happened?" which makes me want to reach through the TV screen and shake you. Afterwards, you'll say something preposterous about how your mistakes weren't really mistakes because you were just trying to "make something happen."
But you know what? None of that matters. After last season ended, I realized something had changed. I wanted you to come back. And it wasn't because you'd managed to lead the Green Bay to a perfectly respectable and better-than-expected 8-8 finish. Nor was it because this season's prospects look even better, with a core of talented young defensive players (Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins, A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett) who should guarantee the Pack a playoff spot no matter what happens on offense. Nor is it because, seriously, Aaron Rodgers?
Brett, I don't care about those things. I don't care if we make the playoffs or not. I don't care if you throw 40 picks this year, and you make that stupid face every time. If I wanted to watch someone execute perfect plays, I'd root for Peyton Manning. I don't. I want to watch the guy who got called for a late hit against the Vikings after decking the cornerback who'd picked him off. The guy who got knocked silly in the Jets game, then popped up and threw a touchdown he didn't remember afterwards. The guy who played the best game of his life the night his dad's body lay cooling on a slab — turning a throwaway Raiders game into the most poignant night of my career as a fan. If the other stuff — the insane decisions, the dumb risks, the misguided belief in an ability to turn any broken play into six points — if all that comes along with the package, so be it. I just want it to last as long as possible.
(Confidential to Coach McCarthy: First time he lobs an easy one into the waiting arms of a safety, you have to tear his fucking head off. It's what Holmgren would do.)