In real life, I’m not really a very superstitious guy. But pro sports aren’t really real life, unless you’re on the team – so I have no problem with the superstitions I’ve practiced over the years of following my favorite teams. In terms of the Packers, they’ve worked out pretty well. Since I became serious fan in the early ‘90s, the team has been consistently very good.
I don’t take all the credit for the Packers’ success, but sure, perhaps my superstitions have some outcome on the game. Maybe you do the same thing: wear certain clothes, watch at special places or with the same people. Off the top of my head, here are my personal Packers superstitions:
Pre-game mantra: My friend Eron and I went to our first game at Lambeau in 1994, when the Packers held Barry Sanders and the Lions to -1 rushing yards. The night before, I slept over at his parents’ house so we could get an early start. We were both so giddy, that as we tried to sleep, we’d randomly break out in "Packer Packer Packer Packer" as fast as we could (yes, we were dumb teenagers). Even now, on big game days, we’ll call each other and before the other picks up, we’re just yelling "Packer Packer" into the phone.
My offensive manta: I don’t know when it developed, but I found myself yelling "Watch it, Brett!" pretty much every time Favre rolled out of the pocket. Now, when I hear "Blue 58! Green 18!" it feels instinctive to say it again. "Watch it, Aaron" doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, though.
My defensive mantra: Watching Packers games with my dad when I was a kid, my father would yell at the TV at once a game (and I think he still does): "Hit ‘em, hurt ‘em, beat ‘em, sack ‘em." I continue to carry on that tradition, although it’s a slightly weird thing to say in public, so I usually mutter it under my breath.
Third down: Sitting at the back of the end zone at the Packers-Steelers game in 1995, a huge fat man stood up in front of us during every series, held up three fingers, and shouted, "Third down, biggest play of the game!" All these years later, both Eron and I say this pretty much ever third down. If we’re not watching the game together, we’ve been known to text it to each other.
Playoff gear: I own plenty of Packers clothes, but most is pretty dated, ripped up or sweat stained at this point. But for super big games, I still bust out some old-school garb. This includes a very ugly "NFC Central 1995 Champs" green and white cap, a NFC Champions ugly green sweatshirt and a practically destroyed, stretched out gray Packers T-shirt my grandma gave me in 1994. I have permanently retired my Chmura jersey – but I haven’t thrown it away.
Repetition: If you ever, ever ask me what I think the Packers do on second and short, expect to get a play suggested, in a Southern accent, by the late Max McGee: "I say fake the run and go deep." Or when the other team is ready to punt: "Mind the fake." Or when a kick returner runs sideways across the field: "North and south! But preferably north!" Or, every time the Packers score in the second half: "Dagger." These inside jokes are probably only funny to me, alone, but that’s OK. Before you make anyone laugh, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.
So, yes, I’m probably a pretty annoying person to watch a Packers’ game with. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
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