I'm writing this as I watch the Packers play their second preseason game. I don't get too worked up about preseason games, but I'm missing my dad tonight. I probably would have gone over to his place to watch the game. My dad loved watching all the young guys fighting to make the team. We would have talked about the game, and so much more. I'll miss those times with my dad. When you grow up in Wisconsin, football is very much something passed from father to son, so tonight's Fast Five is a little more personal than usual (might be a few of these this year). These are five great memories of football, and my dad.
5) In 1983, the defending Super Bowl champ Washington Redskins came to Green Bay for Monday Night Football. It was the first time MNF came to Green Bay, and my dad's excitement was palpable. It was a wild game, with the lead changing hands all night. The Packers eventually won 48-47, and I'll never forget the electricity in our house that night.
4) I've written before about Steve from New Zealand. Steve lived with us when I was in 4th grade, and in 1985 (might have been '86) he came through Green Bay as he spent a year traveling the world. The Packers were a bit of a train wreck that year, but my dad considered it his duty to take Steve to a game. I remember watching Lawrence Taylor through binoculars, and feeling awed by the man's intensity. It was the first time I felt like one of the guys, and it felt good. I've never forgotten the feeling.
3) The year after Mike Holmgren left Green Bay for Seattle, he came back to Lambeau with the Seahawks. I was living in Arizona by then, and my parents were in Nevada. My mom, who could have cared less about the game, called to talk during the game. At one point, Favre hit Corey Bradford on a long touchdown. Bradford was one of those young guys my dad cheered for, and he jumped on the phone to announce that "Bradford's too fast, they can't catch him." He sounded like a little kid.
2) Favre's last year with Green Bay, the Packers made the NFC Championship. My dad came over to watch the game. It was just the two of us. The game was a nailbiter the whole way, with the Packers losing a heartbreaker in overtime. My dad was disappointed to be sure, but he went into Dad mode, trying to cheer up his son. You're never too old for a pep talk from your dad.
1) In 2010, the Packers played the Cardinals the last game of the season. My brother and a good friend from Green Bay were in town, and we drove up to Phoenix for the game. Both teams had already clinched playoff spots, so the game was essentially meaningless. We had a blast anyway. We drank a few beers in the parking lot, settled for Arizona brats, and cheered the Pack to a victory. My dad hadn't been feeling well for quite a while before the game, but he mustered the energy to enjoy the day. It's a day I'll never forget.