But the 2010 Packers did - and in such convincing fashion that they were favored over a strong and Super Bowl-tested Pittsburgh Steelers team by the majority of football "experts."
During the game, they lost their two most veteran players (Donald Driver and Charles Woodson) to serious injuries, and a major playmaker (Sam Shields) sat out all of the third quarter with an injury that limited his production even when he did return. But - just as had been the case all season - they didn't let adversity conquer them. Instead (as we fans learned in news reports today), when Charles Woodson was overcome emotionally at halftime while attempting to motivate his teammates, they stiffened their resolve in order to rally for their "fallen" comrades. The second half wasn't pretty - a lot of us hearkened back to the days decades ago when the team was known as the "Heart Attack Pack" - but they did what they had to do, never gave up the lead, and finished the job they now acknowledge they believed way back in training camp they could accomplish.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, I am a major Packer fan; I was raised on Packer football, and my passion has only grown as an adult. My husband and I watched and celebrated for days when they last won this contest in '96 - and I was in a funk for quite a while when they lost the following year. I cried when Reggie White died and have very strong opinions about choices made by our former (not-to-be-named-here) quarterback. Football has its proper priority in my life - I follow Vince Lombardi's guideline in that regard (Faith, Family, Football!) - but it's definitely got a spot at the table.
And so we've had a lot of fun over the past several weeks - and, especially, in the last 24 hours.
Right after the game, my family and I headed over to Lambeau Field - honking our horn the whole way - where we joined hundreds and hundreds of other fans in celebrating.
There's a victory celebration at Lambeau tomorrow afternoon. Given the forecast, we'll watch that on TV - but we'll definitely be tuned in to see and catch comments from all the guys.
From all of this, two things stand out for me. First, I am thrilled that my girls got to experience this in their childhoods - and I that I could be a part of it with them. They don't fully understand the game, but they know enough for now, and their joy is contagious. In many ways, that makes this victory sweeter than the one I witnessed 14 years ago.
Secondly, I have been inspired by this team's integrity, determination, and perseverance in the face of really big challenges. Yes, football is just a game, and there are much more important things going on in the world. But football can be a metaphor for life if we choose to look a little deeper - and, if we can glean some lessons and motivation to do better in our own journeys as a result of our enthusiasm for the team, why not go with it? So, the next time I feel like giving up, I'm going to try acting like a Packer - especially those whom I know are Christ-followers because they share my worldview about the ultimate Source of anyone's power and strength - and stick to the plan no matter what seems to be holding me back. It worked for them; I trust it will for this major Cheesehead, too.