By Steve Czaban Special to Published Jan 23, 2008 at 5:28 AM

What do you say when your best friends in Wisconsin have to endure such a crushing Packers loss?

How do you tactfully acknowledge the sting, while not pretending that you would know anything about the depth of the pain of real fans, born and bred in green and gold?

I tried my best. All I could say to Bob Madden of 102.9 the Hog -- my frequent in-game cell-phone buddy, somebody I could ring after big plays and bad calls and commiserate with as a quasi-fan of his team -- was this: "I'm sorry. I am very, very sorry."

And that was it. What more can you say?

Watching the Giants slowly dismantle the scaffolding on a magnificent Packers season was uneasy at best. Painful throughout. And ultimately, excruciating. And yet, I knew it was probably no more than one-10th the angst and rage of Packers Nation.

Since joining "Bob And Brian in the Morning" some 12 years ago and serving as their official "sports guy," it would have been relatively easy to "adopt" the Packers as my own along the way.

But, I never felt right about it. This was simply not MY team. I hadn't put in the time during the awful decade known as the 1980s, suffering horrible, downright depressing Packers incarnations year after year.

I have always had too much respect for Packers fans to try to jump in during the middle of this Brett Favre era. He is your idol, your miracle and your stroke of amazing sports luck landed from hillbilly Jerry Glanville.

Sure, Favre was a reckless drinker with no real motivation in Atlanta. Still, Coach Elvis walked right past the football equivalent of the California gold rush.

This season came out of nowhere for the Pack. The only small sign of greatness to come was due to last year's run at the end of the season, in relative scheduling garbage time. Favre had said the previous off-season that it was probably the "most talented" team he'd been on.

People laughed.

But then this year unfolded, and amazingly close (sometimes lucky) victories began piling up like firewood. In between, emphatic triumphs made you believe something more was going on. The stats at the end of the year validated this team's offensive prowess.

Ryan Grant came out of the woodwork to be a major force.

Then the Cowboys choked. The stars had aligned. The thermometer dipped.

It was fate, wasn't it?

No, you still had to play the game. And everything which had been there all year was nowhere to be found. Not the devastating crossing routes with loads of yardage after the catch. Not a slashing Grant for carries of eight, 10, 12 yards and more.

Not even the bounces showed up, save for one Plaxico Burress drop while landing on the frozen mud near the end zone, and the immaculate gut recovery by Mark Tauscher to save Favre's bacon on that ill-advised pick.

Before the game, one fan emailed me a haunting premonition of what might happen. He reminded me of the loss to Philly. You know the one: "4th and 26." Sure, the absurdly timid decision by Mike Sherman not to go for it on fourth and inches still angers. Sure, the comically soft zone defense that allowed a team to convert in that spot still defies logic.

But it is the balloon ball from Favre in overtime that can never be erased. Great quarterbacks should never throw that ball. Favre is the exception. It's the Achilles heel to his greatness. It's part of the bargain. You have to learn to live with it.

This eerily similar interception -- hopefully not Favre's last professional throw -- was the cruelest way to end a magical season.

In two weeks, the inevitable crushing of the Giants by the Patriots will confirm the relative mediocrity of the G-Men in the big scheme of things, underscoring their unworthiness to play before 100 million eyeballs worldwide.

You may secretly be glad that such a possible thrashing won't belong to the Packers in two weeks at the hands of Brady and Company. Still, Favre deserved this two week stretch of attention that now gets thown Eli Manning's way, and I remain convinced the better team didn't win.

But, this is the cruel reality of being a sports fan.

It's 99 percent full thrust kicks to the groin and one percent fleeting moments of glory.

It wasn't me taking that shot to the fellas Sunday night.

But I winced just the same.

I am sorry. So very sorry.

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.