I have memories of as a rebellous teenager with a little battery operated radio, I would spend Sunday afternoons hiding out on the back of the 255 acre family farm where I had a clear vision for 1/2 mile around to make sure no one was sneaking up on me as I listened to my little radio. As teenagers, we were not allowed to have something this modern, but with a careful plan, and a love for what the outside world held, me and my little radio somehow managed to avoid the clutches of the Amish community.
It was here on Sunday afternoons, that I first heard a new, fast rising artist by the name of Garth Brooks. This was in the mid 90’s when he was in the process of performing his live concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I listened to “The Beaches of Cheyenne” and “Two of a Kind” over and over, and wanted with all my heart to go watch him in concert! Alas, by the time that I left the Amish in the summer of 2002, he had retired, and I have only a wisp of hope that he comes out of retirement again so I can travel to whatever corner of the earth to watch this “Idol” that I worshipped so much!
Indeed, there were 2 worldly figures that I was supposed to know nothing about, that influenced my life in very dramatic fashion back in the mid to late 90’s. The first, as before mentioned, was The Garth Man, Who had such an affect on me that I knew in my heart that someday I would leave the Amish, and I would become a country superstar just like him!
We milked around 60 dairy cows by hand when I was a teenager. This was the number 1 scource of income for our family when I was growing up. All the hay we put up loosely by hand with horse drawn wagons, all the oats we shocked and later thrashed, and all the many acres of corn we husked every fall and well into the winter even after the temperature had dropped well below zero, all these long tedious tasks revolved around our dairy farm.
The second worldly hero of mine, as a 15 and 16 yr old boy in Mid Western Wisconsin, was none other than Brett Favre. We had a milk man who came by every morning in his milk truck and took all our milk that we had collected from our dairy cows to the cheese factory to be processed into curds or any different kind of cheese. As I started yearning for some sort of life outside the Amish sheltered life that surrounded me, I craved the news the milkman would have every morning.
In late 1996, his conversations were becoming more and more about this game he watches on television called football. At 15, I had never heard of this game, but as excited as he was getting about it, and as much of a buzz as I gathered watching vehicles driving past our home place with Green Bay Packers flags and stickers on them, I knew that this was a whole new world that I had to explore.
One Monday morning this milkman came by to pick up the milk, and had even more of a stench of day-old liquar on his breath than usual! I sensed even more excitement than usual, and after prodding him he told me that the Green Bay Packers, led by Brett Favre had recaptured the trophy and were once again world champions! I distinctly remember him telling me and my brothers that it was not even close, and that this new quarterback the Packers had was going to be the best quarterback ever to play the game. I remember him telling us how the Packers had set 2 new superbowl records. The first was for the longest kickoff return for a Touchdown in superbowl history. The second was the longest passing Touchdown in superbowl history.
I knew absolutely nothing about what a kickoff was or what a touchdown was. Indeed, I spent the next 6 yrs listening to the Packers play on my radio, and became a huge fan because of this Brett Favre. I remember that as the game would get closer to the end, the announcers would get more excited and yell louder, and it seemed that every Sunday, Favre pulled out another victory somehow. I visualized that a touchdown was a point in the game when you would take the ball and someone would touch it down on the ground at the end of the field, and the team to do this the most would win. Needless to say, It was a big confusion to someone who had never seen a game and had no one there to ask questions.
I finally got to see my first football game in the fall of 2002, and my love for Brett Favre and the packers reached brand new heights, as he led them to a huge win in Dallas. I never got to see Joe Montana, Steve young, Aikman, Marino, Barry Sanders, or any of the players that made football great! But I got to watch Brett Favre. Indeed, over the next 6 yrs I went back to Lambeau Field every fall to watch at least one Game, and sometimes 2 a yr. I can truly say that I lived and died by every Favre pass. This person had a way of making me swell with pride on some days, and on many occasions, throw remote controls with wrath at the TV. There are several documented occasions where I had a remote sticking out of the wall of our house after a Green Bay loss. During these years, I became such a huge fan of Favre that I would dream on a regular basis that I met him and we talked football and he threw me a few passes, and than I would wake up sweating because we had parted ways and I had forgot to get an autograph from him.
When Green Bay traded him to the Jets, I swore I would never go to another Packer game, and swore even harder that I would despise the young unproven rookie that I felt was to blame for this trade. I truly wanted Aaron Rogers to fall flat on his rear, so Ted Thompson would get fired and Green bay would be sorry for what they did.
I have reached the portion of my story where confessions are in order. During Favres years with the Jets and the Vikings, i followed him so loyally that if both them and the Packers were on at the same time, I would watch Favre and the Packers would have to take a back seat.
Sadly, another superbowl eluded my Idol. He had several more tries after I was able to watch television, but somehow always managed to throw away the games.
I have many Ex Amish friends who are also huge packers fans, and I have over the years received harsh criticism from them for my loyalty to the Favre and my criticism of the management in Green Bay. I Finally made a promise to them. I actually did not believe that i would ever have to keep this promise.
Fast forward to 10:00 P.M. on a Sunday evening sitting in front of my laptop in my Green Bay Packer oriented basement in Holts Summit, Mo. wearing my cheesehead. It is January 23rd 2011. The Green bay Packers have gone against all odds and as the number 6 seed in the NFC, have beat the hated rival Bears in Chicago, and are Superbowl bound. 6 short weeks ago, after a loss to New England, they were all but eliminated, and nobody gave them a chance. I am sitting here, once again swelling with pride for the Green and Gold. It seems like an unrealistic dream that my beloved Packers have actually pulled off the impossible. The Superbowl? Reality has not sunk in just yet. It all happened too fast to absorb. Yes, we may lose the Superbowl, but guess what, I get to see my beloved play on the big stage!
As I come to the end of my Football related story, I sit here gazing at a fathead of Brett Favre on my one basement wall. I glance across the room and see Donald Driver katty corner across from him with arms outstretched waiting for the rifle arm to deliver the game winning touchdown. I remember the promise that I made to my Ex Amish buddies.
“I will remain a Brett Favre fan until Aaron Rogers takes the Packers to the Superbowl.”
I gaze at the Favre fathead and try to visualize a # 12 hanging there replacing the # 4. Is it too early? How long do I have to hang onto this misty dream of Favre coming back and still Leading us to another Superbowl?
I am truly elated that we are going to the big Stage in Dallas, but somewhere deep down, I am saddened by the thought that it could not be my real, true hero.
Now as a man of my word, I will try my best to put the old behind me, jump on the Aaron Rogers band wagon, and ride it into the sunset with him, but Darn, that Favre Fathead overlooking me from yonder wall, is giving me that certain look!
Maybe an Aaron Rogers led Lombardi Trophy might help push the old tremors out of my heart. Either way, Some how or another, in some wierd twisted way, I feel like from a teenage rebellious farm boy who had no clue what a Touchdown was, to now the same person in the throes of young manhood, somehow it has come “FULL CIRCLE” and I’m about to be treated to my first Green Bay Packer Superbowl experience!