Green Bay’s Loss Was A Devastating Blow


OK, the Green Bay Packers have finally let me down. Worse, they have let my mother down — a woman who hangs up on you when the game comes on and who has been known to hurl her knitting at the television when the referee makes a bad call.

There were a few bad calls last Saturday, but even fair calls wouldn’t have helped them. The Packers were not at their best, to say the least. Announcers like to give each team the benefit of the doubt by pointing out bad calls, players with injuries, lousy weather on the field or whatever else they can come up with. But this time? No.

The one shining star was Aaron Rodgers, a quarterback with stellar vision and a throwing arm that is poetry in motion. With the Packers losing 20 to 13, he threw a 41-yard pass into the end zone with 5 seconds left on the clock. Amazingly, receiver Jeff Janis (aiming for star status) caught it. A perfect kick tied the game, which then went into overtime. The announcers explained the overtime rules, summing up that the game could go on “into next Tuesday.”

No such luck. Without intense review of the misery to follow, let’s just say the Arizona Cardinals kicked the ball, caught the ball and ran the ball right past all the Packers’ defenders to just outside the goal line. Cardinals wide receiver Larry “Sticky Fingers” Fitzgerald jumped across that line shortly afterward.

I did not call my mother. I left it to poor dad to take the brunt of her wrath. And right before bedtime, too.

Everyone in Wisconsin supports the Packers. It’s the only team owned by its fans, and their fans are rabid. Not only that, but my family has a personal connection to Clay Matthews. My sister Pam knows his mother; it’s that personal.

My own mother, knowing how moms feel about their boys, clips all the Clay Matthews-related newspaper articles from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and sends them out to his mother in California.

In fact, when Pam and I were in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, Pam got a text from Mrs. Matthews saying she was driving through Milwaukee on her way from Green Bay back to the airport and she’d like to take my mother to lunch.

“But we’re at lunch,” my mother said.

(That was true, we were at the crepe place in the historic old Cedarburg Woolen Mill, one of my favorite places on the planet. It is also true that my mother is nothing if not practical.)

Mom!” Pam begged. “It’s Clay Matthews’ mother! She doesn’t take just anyone to lunch!”

“Well, that’s ridiculous anyway,” mom replied. “If she’s coming here, I should invite her to the house. And the house isn’t fit for company right now.”

Pam and I just looked at each other, dumbstruck.

“Mom,” Pam said. “You have been sending her clippings for five years, mom. She probably wants to say thank you.”

“Well, that’s not necessary.”

And that was the end of it. My chance to meet the woman who gave birth to the Green Bay Packers’ stellar linebacker slipped away.

Sort of like the Cardinals slipped away from that very same stellar linebacker last Saturday — over and over again — as the clippings will show.

Hmmm. No wonder mom didn’t want to have lunch.

years. Five