It’s almost eerie, what’s happening in the National Football League playoffs. And as I watched the Green Bay Packers decimate the Seattle Seahawks in a swirling snowstorm on Saturday, I sensed a made-for-TV movie waiting to happen.
Even though they don’t look very much alike, I’d pick Woody Harrelson to play Packer quarterback Brett Favre in the inevitable film. Southerners both, they have the same combination of impishness and toughness in their eyes. Think Hawkeye Pierce. Think Burt Reynolds in “Smoky and the Bandit.”
For we can all see where this might be going. When the New York Giants upset Dallas on Sunday, residents of Green Bay must have partied in their slush-filled streets for the second straight night.
Had Dallas won, the Packers would have had to play down there, on a field where they are 1-8 lifetime, against a star player (Terrell Owens) who always performs his best against them.
Now, the Giants have to invade what has become known as the Frozen Tundra. If bad weather isn’t actually predicted, Packer officials might sneak in the night before with some borrowed snow-making machines.
This is all of personal interest to me, because green and gold blood runs in my veins (the nurses who occasionally take samples keep asking me about this). My father was raised in the Green Bay suburb of DePere, and I have a large colony of relatives there -- some of whom are Packer season ticket holders.
Which is a very big deal in the Frozen Tundra, where Packer tickets are handed down in wills and fought over in court. The waiting list for seats, even bad ones, can be decades.
Moreover, the community owns the team, an anomaly in the corporate-centric world of today's NFL. Green Bay's field is named not after some mega-conglomerate, but Curly Lambeau, who started the team back in the 1920s with the backing of a small meat packing company.
But back to the movie. It would all revolve around Favre, one of the true characters in the game. At one point during the 42-20 victory over Seattle, he reached down, packed a snowball, and fired it at wide receiver Donald Driver (as hard as the 38-year-old Favre still hurls a football, I'd hate to be in a snowball fight with him). His unbridled joy lit up the TV screen.
Two years ago, though, Favre was close to rock bottom. His wife, Deanna, was receiving treatment for breast cancer. His brother-in-law, Casey Tyner, had died in an ATV accident. Hurricane Katrina had devastated his home in Kiln, MS. And the Packers were terrible, winning only four games. Favre was ranked 31st out of 32 NFL quarterbacks statistically, and sentiment was growing that he should retire.
Instead, he came back in 2006, leading the Packers to an 8-8 season. Again, retirement rumors swirled around him during the off-season as he rode his tractor and stonewalled the media.
The team wasn't supposed to be any better than in 2007, if not worse. The running backs and wide receivers were young, putting all the pressure on Favre's shoulders when he finally decided to come back. Somehow, though, the team went 13-3 during the regular season before trouncing Seattle.
One play in that Seattle game was vintage Favre, a player known for his improvisation. Chased out of the pocket by a couple of large and menacing Seahawks, he ran to his right and stumbled on the snow-covered turf. After a couple of staggering steps, he regained his balance, then threw the football underhand to tight end Donald Lee to set up a key touchdown.
In the movie, that play will be shown in slow motion, perhaps with cut-ins to Deanna Favre up in the stands.
Should Green Bay beat the Giants, chances are Favre would have the chance to spoil the landmark perfect season currently being forged by the New England Patriots. Now 17-0, the Patriots have become widely reviled (except in Boston, of course) as a bloodless, coldly efficient team that executes its opponents without mercy. They could be Drago, the killer Russian heavyweight, to Favre's Rocky.
I need to rummage through my closet and find my cheesehead.