I have a confession to make. I am a die hard Green Bay Packers fan. I know several of my Texas born and bred friends are ready to throw eggs at me right, but it is really not my fault. Blame my loyalty toward the Pack on Bart Starr.
Starr was a 17th round draft choice for the Packers in 1956. But legendary coach Vince Lombardi saw potential in the young quarterback. Starr led the Packers to five NFL titles and two Super Bowl Championships. He was honored three times as Most Valuable Player- once as a Green Bay Packer MVP in 1966 and MVP of Super Bowls I and II. After his playing career ended, Starr remained with the team he built and took on the role of head coach from 1975 to 1983.
My father assumed an executive marketing position with Case Farm Equipment in Racine, Wisconsin in the spring of 1969. I had just completed the first grade in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. I suppose if we had not made the move to Racine I would have become a Chicago Bears fan. We were living in Chicago during the time period that Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo played for the Bears. Many will remember the movie that focused on their relationship called Brian’s Song. As a second grader, I became instantly enamored with Bart Starr and his cohorts.
I wore my #15 Green Bay jersey until it was it was thread bare. My neighbor Colleen Burke and I played football in the backyard all of the time. Of course I wore my football pads to go with the Bart Starr jersey. Colleen was taller than me at the time and a formidable opponent on the football field.
By the time I was in the 4th grade, I actually enjoyed reading. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding the Green Bay Packers and Bart Starr in particular. Colleen had given up her football career by that point, but I could talk Packers trivia with my friends at Wind Point Elementary with expertise of an ESPN commentator. (Of course ESPN was not even in someone’s imagination at that point.)
In 1975, my family moved to Texas. I became a Texas Tech pretty quickly since we lived in Lubbock. And I soon became acclimated to West Texas high school football too. And I must admit that I learned to like the Dallas Cowboys. It was the Roger Staubach era for the Cowboys by that point and time. But my loyalties to the Packers never waned. My mother was the same way. She learned to love Tom Landry, but in her mind any coach other than Vince Lombardi was just a little suspect.
I feel particularly bad for expressing my loyalty to Green Bay since Wade Phillips lost his job today. I am not convinced that Wade is the problem in Dallas actually… But I am reminded that loyalty is a good thing today. It is a virtue that is noticeably absent in our world today.
Formative relationships that are forged when we are young impact the rest of our lives. I made friends in Racine that am thankful to say are important people in my life today. And of course I count Bart Starr among that group! In a society, that is creating social gypsies that have no clue what loyalty means, I am grateful to cheer on the same team that I loved in the second grade. Yes….I am convinced that loyalty is a good thing. More on this subject tomorrow….