I'll be honest: I tend to be pretty skeptical of Players' Tribune articles. A website comprised of athlete-penned op-eds, the pieces tend to be a lot of self-mythologizing or cheerleading, with little real content. Like the "Mic'd Up" segments during football or basketball games, what's supposed to make me feel closer to the athletes and the action instead just feels fabricated or empty and reenforces that distance.
So trust me when I say that Robert Tonyan's newly posted essay on the website is the real deal.
Posted today in the prelude to the Packers' big playoff bout against the Los Angeles Rams, "Green Bay, I Wrote This For You" is a pretty lovely tribute to, well, just about everybody. To Aaron Rodgers ...
"Every single day I’ve been a Packer, Aaron has pushed me and helped me get better. And as a result a good friendship has developed that I think is paying dividends on the field. You go the extra mile for the people you truly care about, and that’s what it’s become with Aaron and me, for sure."
To the breakout star's teammates and fellow green-and-gold tight ends ...
"And man, let me just say, Marcedes (Lewis) ….
"That’s my guy right there. He’s like my big brother, and he truly embodies everything I hope to be. Year 15, healthy, still doing it at a high level, still loving the game, so wise, and just the best, nicest dude you’ll ever meet. When we’re on the field together, it’s almost like we feel this extra, I don’t know what to call it … almost invincibility. When you have a best friend on the team — someone you look up to and respect — and you’re lined up right next to him ready to make something special happen, there’s no better feeling in the world."
And to the entire Green Bay team and to Green bay itself.
"And to this day it still takes my breath away when I look around Lambeau. When it’s noon on Sunday in October, and there's dew on the ground and the sun hits all that yellow and reflects off the bleachers at the same time? It’s just … wow. There’s this golden tint to the field. And it just looks like football, man. It’s just beautiful. There’s really no other way to put it."
You can read the whole thing right here.
Sure, it's the kind of cheerleading puff that I just decried – but dang it, if the piece didn't hit me right in the heart place. I admit: It probably helps if you're in the prime target audience (*waves*) but even more so, there's something very winsome, charming and earnest about this piece – something profoundly effervescent, something that finds the romanticism in a rough game. Reading the piece, Tonyan's genuine excitement about the team, their camaraderie and his enthusiasm for the sport really (Lambeau) leaps off the screen. It's contagious – and it's a nice reminder that it is also a game, a tough one you desperately want to be good at and win but also something fun and joyful both to those watching and those playing.
In a surreal year where people wondered if we should play sports period, Tonyan's essay reads like a reminder that sports are both a distraction and also something more valuable than simply that – perhaps a sense of community, whether a team or a fanbase, in a year where community was hard to safely come by.
But I'll let Tonyan put it better:
"That big G, and everything it stands for? It’s unlike anything in all of sports. And that’s not me being disrespectful in any way to any other team. It’s just that Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers ... that’s NFL royalty right there. The frozen tundra, all those historic games, that yellow and green. It speaks for itself at this point.
"We all know what this is about. We all get it.
"This is what we all live for. It’s what we’re all here to do. Players, coaches, fans … all of us.
"This is what it’s all about.
"And it all starts right now. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride!"
And now I feel like I could run through a brick wall in the name of the Pack. You can too: Read Tonyan's piece, get pumped up for the playoffs, tune in to FOX at 3:35 p.m. for the game against the Rams and stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more Packers playoff prep, postgame and hopefully beyond.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.