Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Next Best Thing

If the Browns can't be in the playoffs, then the next best thing as far as I'm concerned is an NFC Championship Game between the Giants and the Packers at Lambeau Field.

When I was a kid, I developed this kind of Manichean world view when it came to the NFL. There were a number of teams that I wasn't truly a fan of, but that I classified as belonging to the NFL's "forces of light." The forces of light consisted mostly of old school teams who could trace their origins back to the original NFL or the AAFC. I generally felt positive toward those teams, as long as they weren't playing my team.

On the other hand, most of the AFL teams, along with any team from California, any Southern team, and the Dallas Cowboys, fell into my "forces of darkness" category. For those teams, I wished nothing but misery. In fact, about the only way I could've seen myself rooting for them back in those days would have been if they somehow ended up playing the Soviet Union.

I've pretty much kept this classification system until this day, although I've tinkered with it a bit over the years. For example, I briefly moved the Cowboys into the "forces of light" category the year that Bernie played for them, and I've also updated my worldview to make sure that carpetbagger teams like the Colts, Rams, and Cardinals are appropriately placed in the "forces of darkness" camp.

What about Baltimore? Well, let's put it this way. If we were still in the middle of the Cold War and the Ravens played the Russians, I'd pull for the Russians.

If you're a Browns fan, a classification system like this comes in pretty handy. After all, when your favorite team misses the playoffs in 13 out of its last 15 seasons, you need to figure out somebody to root for just to make the playoffs interesting. For me, it's always easy -- just find the oldest old school team in the playoff tournament and adopt it for however long it makes its run.

That's why this year's NFC Championship game has such an attraction for me. It doesn't get more old school than the Giants and the Packers, playing in single digit temperatures, on real grass. These teams have met five times for NFL championships, but the last time was more than 45 years ago. On Sunday, they'll meet again. Hell, they're even wearing the same uniforms they wore in 1962. I hope it snows.

1 comment:

dwaynerudd said...

I tend to allow my forces of light teams to be shaped by those around me. I have friends that are big Giants and Redskins fans, so I would prefer those teams to win. On the otherhand, I've been friendly with Steelers and Ravens fans without extending to them the same courtesies.

But as a good midwesterner, I can't root against the Packers too often. And a Packers/Patriots superbowl would be a pretty special event. John Madden might just explode.