Unfortunately, the Packers’ season has abruptly and unceremoniously ended, after a painful pounding by the Falcons in the NFC Championship, one game short of an appearance in the Super Bowl and depriving us of a couple more blissful weeks of Green and Gold excitement and the ultimate cheesehead party.
Green Bay went on a pretty good ride down the stretch there – winning eight straight games to right its sinking ship, clinch the division with a 10-6 record and secure a playoff spot, then triumphing in two incredibly exciting postseason contests that extended the Sunday funday celebrations of our favorite team – but that ride is now over.
Wisconsinites are suddenly left with a huge hole in our lives, and not just on game day but throughout the week – time we otherwise might have spent making "run the table" references, debating whether Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback of all time (and wondering why he has family drama!), listening to Mike McCarthy press conferences, reading articles about painful injuries and gallant recoveries and overcoming-adversity stories of undrafted rookies, watching stirring highlights and historic montages and discussing how much we hate (or don’t hate) FOX broadcasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who will have the Super Bowl call.
So how can we fill that football void in Milwaukee? Hey, there's no need to just hunker down in our homes with Netflix for the next few months or leave the city in desperate search of something, somewhere, to occupy the empty abyss hollowed out by Atlanta and the Packers’ terrible pass defense. Never fear.
Here are 12 ways to get through the next couple weeks, happily, healthily (sort of) and right here in our fair town:
1. Go to a Bucks game: The ostensibly future-owning young Bucks have lost five of their last six and could use some help from a refocused-on-basketball home crowd. Milwaukee has a couple of cool promotional nights this week, hosting Philadelphia on Wednesday (Matthew Dellavedova Bobblehead) and Boston on Saturday (All-Star starter Giannis Antetokounmpo youth jersey) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
2. Go to an Admirals game: As OnMilwaukee pop culture editor Matt Mueller said on this week’s Postgame Tailgate podcast, "We had a good run, Packers, but now I think it’s time for us to see other sports." Indeed. Get back out there on the sports-seeing scene with a visit to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, where our American Hockey League team has two games this weekend, Friday against Stockton (with a concert afterward by Daya) and Saturday against San Jose (with a visit from actor Lance Lim), plus another home tilt Feb. 3 versus Rockford (featuring the UW Badgers marching band).
3. Go to a Wave game: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When it comes to family-friendly entertainment in this city, you can’t beat a Wave game for value and fun. Milwaukee's professional indoor soccer team – the oldest continuously operating soccer franchise in America and six-time world champions – hosts Cedar Rapids on Sunday afternoon, with a "Not So Scary Halloween Party" game theme and kids invited to wear costumes and trick-or-treat.
4. Go watch college basketball: Tis the season for hoops. Marquette takes on top-ranked Villanova in what will be a huge game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Tuesday night, then it lets Providence into the building Saturday afternoon, before the floor transitions from Golden Eagles to Bucks later in the evening. Or venture to Madison and see the Badgers play Rutgers at the Kohl Center on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Panthers face Valparaiso on Feb. 2 and UIC on Feb. 4 at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
5. Go get excited about the Brewers: Pitchers and catchers don’t report to spring training for another few weeks, but in the meantime you can get your Milwaukee baseball fix at the annual Brewers On Deck event. This year’s edition will be on Sunday at the Wisconsin Center and will feature 60 current and former members of the organization, as well as kid-friendly activities, photo and autograph opportunities and more.
6. Go gamble: Even though you can’t bet on The Big Game, you can still have a good old time at the tables at Potawatomi. Besides gambling, the casino has great restaurants, concerts and shows galore. Whatever you do there, we wager you'll have a good time.
7. Go do winter sports: Football’s for the fall anyway. Hit up The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, which offers snowboarding, snow tubing and terrain park skiing, and experience all the fun of winter recreation (though it's hard to beat The Rock in summer). Or, play some futbol indoors at Uihlein Soccer Park or try futsal (a faster, small-sided version) at InBounds Training Center in Glendale.
8. Go see a movie: Check out OnMilwaukee’s movie guide to find show times, reviews and more.
9. Go to Snowpocalypse: NEWaukee and Underground Collaborative are throwing a city-celebrating, cold-weather party this week, embracing the Wisconsin winter, exploring unique spaces Downtown and enjoying Milwaukee with extra layers. The storm is set to hit the alley behind Grand Avenue Mall and last from Thursday through Sunday, with awesome music, activities, food and drink. OnMilwaukee is a proud sponsor.
10. Go take in a show: The Pabst, Riverside and Turner Hall venues have their usual excellent array of acts, including Lauryn Hill on Feb. 4; the Bradley Center supplements its sports events with Disney on Ice next week; The Rave will keep you warm with hot concerts like The Prince Experience on Saturday; or feel a little more refined with performances at the Marcus Center, the Milwaukee Theatre, the Milwaukee Rep, the Broadway Theatre Center, the Florentine Opera Company, Next Act Theatre and others. Need a laugh? Hit up Comedy Cafe or Comedy Sportz.
11. Go visit a museum or gallery: Touchdowns and tackles are fun, but it’s time for some culture. The Milwaukee Art Museum is featuring "Nature and Opulence: The Art of Martin Johnson Heade" among its many terrific exhibitions; and while the Milwaukee Public Museum prepares to launch its "Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture" special exhibition on March 3, you can see extensive permanent collections on display. Of course, there’s also always Discovery World, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, the Harley-Davidson Museum, MSOE’s Grohmann Museum art collection, Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art, the David Barnett Gallery, UWM’s Inova Institute of Visual Arts, the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee, MIAD’s Downtown galleries, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, the Charles Allis Museum and many more.
12. Go drink: Done with your cultural enlightenment? Good. You deserve a drink. Yes, it’s cold outside and we don’t have Packers games as an excuse to booze on Sundays anymore, but this is still Milwaukee. Luckily, there is no shortage of local craft breweries, old and new, and all of our wonderful area bars, pubs, clubs and lounges are happy to make sure we don’t go thirsty this winter.
What’s your favorite way to beat the Green-and-Gold-gone blues in winter? Let us know in the comments!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.