A Green Bay Christmas Story: The Nightmare on Lombardi Avenue

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Aaron Rodgers
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Aaron Rodgers /

In light of the holidays, I recap how the Green Bay Packers have wasted the careers of both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.

With only a few days until Christmas, it is hard not to be in a great mood. In fact, I would go as far as stating that this is one of my favorite times of the whole year.

You are off from work (hopefully) and surrounded by loved ones. You are probably finishing up that last-minute shopping and maybe indulging in a Christmas movie or two.

With that in mind, you may be surprised by my decision on what to write for in my weekly column. Now, granted I could go the traditional route and talk about how my Rams are struggling. I could tell you all about how I am not worried and that they are going to turn it around. I could talk about the Bears’ weaknesses and the Saints’ flaws.

But why would I do that?

Instead, here is what I am going to do. With the holiday time being the time of year where we love stories, allow me to take you down memory lane.

Now, before I begin, you should know that this story might frighten you beyond belief. It might make you make you angry and maybe you will leave me a thoughtful comment or two.

Regardless of your reaction, it is a story that needs to be revisited and hopefully one that you feel the need to share with friends and family. I mean after all, it is the season of giving right?

As I walk you down memory lane, you should know this story does not have a happy ending like a Christmas Story or whatever your favorite holiday movie is.

Instead, it is more like that Tim Burton flick The Nightmare before Christmas.

No more stalling. Pull up a chair, grab some eggnog, and enjoy The Nightmare on Lombardi Avenue.

The Current State of the Packers

The current state of the Green Bay Packers is something that has not been experienced in a very long time. When you think about the Green Bay Packers over the last twenty years, it is hard to view them in any other light than a highly successful and functional organization.

They have been successful for the majority of my life and I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I wish my beloved Rams had that same amount of success.

With that being said, I feel that they have massively underachieved and settled in ways that other major markets wouldn’t have. What do I mean by that?

Well, it all started back in 1991.

At the time, the Packers were a below average NFL franchise of the last 20 years. In fact, it is safe to say that the Packers from then and now, were truly a night and day comparison. From the timeframe of 1971 to 1991, the Packers only had two playoff appearances and both of them ended with early round playoff exits.

I can imagine that the Packers organization wanted nothing more than to have a franchise quarterback. I would bet they were desperate to get back to their origins of championship level football. After all, they are the self-proclaimed Title Town.

Striving to get back to excellence, the Packers made a move and went after some young quarterback from The University of Southern Mississippi named Brett Favre, who was a second-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons.

Even when you look back at that trade, I have my doubts that the Packers thought that Favre would be as successful as he turned out to be. But, of course, as with all things in life, you can get lucky and that is exactly what happened to the Packers.

They got really, really lucky.

After finally making the move and making Favre the starter, the team and city experienced a change. With Favre now commanding the ship, the Packers were slowly gaining momentum. In the 1993 season, the Packers were able get back to playoffs and finally broke through in the 1996 season.

With a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in 1996, the Packers were back on top. They returned to the Super Bowl in the following season and happened to fall just a little bit short.

After suffering the Super Bowl loss, the desperation to be great all of a sudden felt lost.

What changed?

I feel that the Packers got complacent or that they were satisfied with a “good enough” mentality.

When the Packers acquired Favre, they were just trying to recapture the magic that the older fanbase was accustomed to seeing. In years prior, the Packers had the great Bart Starr and NFL legend Vince Lombardi. The fans had witnessed true greatness and wanted nothing more than to have that back in Green Bay.

But when the organization got Favre and had an all-time great in their arms, what happened? Where was the hunger?

We have all heard that the hard part of success isn’t getting to the top but staying there.

The Packers had their success in 1996, and everything else after that was pretty uneventful under the command of Favre. Sure, they had a handful of playoff appearances and talented players, but they never could win the big game.

You can blame it on luck, bad drafting or being in a small market, but frankly, they underachieved. Whether that it was the lack of hunger to continue the chase to excellence, we will never know. Regardless, the sad reality that the Favre only won one Super Bowl is quite a nightmare in itself.

And to me, that is not even the worst part about all of this.

The Aaron Rodgers Era

In the 2005 season when the Packers landed Aaron Rodgers, nobody thought much of it. The quarterback from Cal was given the image of having a bad attitude and fell in the draft.

Nobody expected the handoff from Favre to be to a future great, but it happened.

Favre was one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play.

Like him or hate him, Aaron Rodgers is perhaps one of the most talented quarterbacks that we have ever seen.

The fact that the handoff from Favre to Rodgers was what happened to Green Bay is remarkable, and certainly has been a nightmare if you cheer for the Chicago Bears.

You would think that Packers would be the New England Patriots of the NFC. That they would dominate the NFC in a similar manner with that level of quarterback play.  And hell, they should be.

But that’s not what happened. They have also massively underachieved. In fact, here’s my favorite fact of all. From the time frame, of 1998 to 2018, the Green Bay Packers have been to less Super Bowls than the Rams. Why is that crazy? The Rams just had their first winning season in over 15 years. Crazy right?

But… Zack… I mean the Packers play in a weak division.

The NFC North hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse over the past 20 years. The Detroit Lions have been mostly awful. The Bears and Vikings haven’t exactly been consistent over that time frame. That isn’t a good excuse.

So, what is a good excuse? Why haven’t the Packers been better?

Is it as simple as saying because they haven’t drafted well? Because they really haven’t.

Sure, they have had a bunch of good players. But no one that will earn a gold jacket. Not one.

The Packers haven’t drafted a single player in the time of Favre to Rodgers that is a no doubt Hall of Famer.

How crazy is that? Of course, excluding the two quarterbacks, but still. If you are that insufficient at a drafting, you shouldn’t be held in a high regard. In fact, you should probably try and attract players in a different way. But do the Packers do that? No.

So, can the Packers’ lack of success be attributed to being cheap?

Since they play in a market that is cold, isolated and not exactly Miami, they don’t land free agents. I mean, it’s not Green Bay’s fault that they are in a place people do not want to live but that is their problem.

When you are located in a place that is less than desirable to most of the population, you have to overpay. Green Bay doesn’t do that, and it shows. They are cheap, and they believe in the draft.

Now that is a great process, but you have to draft well, and well, they don’t. When you don’t draft well, you don’t land free agents, and that’s Green Bay’s issue.

Still with all that, could there be more? Could it be that they have been that bad defensively?

Playing a Green Bay defense is a Christmas morning for every talented quarterback. Now that I mention that, maybe that is why Favre went to Minnesota. But in all seriousness, their defense has been so bad in the last 20 years, you would think I am making this up.

Over that time period of 1998 to present, they have only had a top 10 defense a handful of times.  In fact, outside of Clay Matthews, Nick Collins, Charles Woodson and Julius Peppers, this defense has never really had a lot of talent.

Sure, they have had players who have had a good year or two, but no longer-term great success. And that lack of talent has attributed to less than great defensive fronts for the Packers.

Next. NFL head coach hot seat. dark

When you wrap this present and put it under the tree, you are left with the nightmare that the Packers have been. A talented quarterback, with no talent elsewhere.

How’s that for a Christmas Story?