How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love The Packers

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http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5218/5390439861_8e00790290_s.jpgBY REBECCA GOODACRE When I was told that the Super Bowl was taking place during the first week of February, all I could think about was the time that Justin Timberlake revealed the nipple-tasseled right breast of Janet Jackson to 95 million people.  As controversial and unforgettable as this moment was, the Super Bowl it turns out is not just an event to facilitate public nudity.  So, if it’s not just about showcasing Miss Jackson’s purple-nerple, it must be about the raw talent of two teams of highly-trained and talented football players going head to head.  The best playing against the best. But apparently it’s not really about that either.  It’s so, so much more than that.

It’s a media event so big it’s a frenzy verging on mass hysteria.  It creates a whole new breed of commercials known as advertainment that cost $3 million dollars for 30 seconds of air time.  That’s a tidy $100,000 per second.  It creates a $10.2 million increase in tortilla chips sales for that week alone.  What is this gargantuan of a sports event?  Hailing from the UK, I have never witnessed, or come close to witnessing the immensity that is the NFL Super Bowl.  I am, in essence, a Super Bowl virgin.

My first time watching American Football I was pretty sure I was just watching a bar room brawl where the participants had come readily prepared with protective head gear, tactically staged on a nice green field for softer landing. All I could fathom from what I was viewing were that two lines of giant, wolverine-sized men repeatedly lined up across from each other and then charged.  The results of which looked mightily more painful than anything some Advil and a band aid could solve.  I was certain soccer was a much more dignified sport, where real men, not grunting brutes, played with real skill, not with giant biceps. However, after five months in America, I find myself fully committed Green Bay Packers fan, complete with an Aaron Rodgers jersey and more team spirit than the entire cast of Glee. But I did not achieve this state of pigskin nirvana all by myself.

Firstly, I was blessed with a football-loving boyfriend, who diligently spent many hours and deconstructing game after game explaining the rules to me.  Although this was probably more of a benefit to him — as it therefore allowed him to subject me willingly to hours of football I would have otherwise refused to watch — it was nonetheless my first major breakthrough in my football conversion.  Eventually, I came to realize that there were specific and tactical reasons why these giant men were lunging their 700-pound bodies at each other, beyond just raw, Neanderthal aggression: It was actually to enable the little guy (as it turns out there’s also a few normal sized human beings that play football) could make it to the other end of the field with the odd-shaped ball reasonably unharmed.  Which struck me as a nice, thoughtful thing to do.  Maybe they weren’t brutes after all.

Then came stage two of my boyfriend-led football education: The history of the NFL. I learnt that first ever two Super Bowls were won by Green Bay and the trophy itself was named after Vince Lombardi, a legendarily hard-assed Packers coach. It was clear to me, the Packers were born winners, and like any traditional band wagon jumpers (I’ll openly admit that a substantial part of my NFL fandom is part of jumping on a very exciting-looking wagon), I like winners.  All that combined with a sense of girlfriend-loyalty (my boyfriend is a long time Packers fan), I’d found my team — even if they did wear giant blocks of cheese on their heads, which I’m still yet to understand.

My devotion was then finally cemented when in the NFC championship game against the Chicago Bears, defensive linesman BJ Raji scored a touchdown.  There is nothing like seeing a 336lb black man thrusting and swiveling his hips in celebration after scoring game-winning points to really get you in the mood for a Super Bowl.  Much like BJ, I anticipate this event to be big, albeit a little scary-looking, but filled to the brim with gut-busting moves and unexpected surprises. Now, that’s entertainment. Go Packers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Goodacre hails from Norwhich, England. She is currently spending a year studying abroad at Temple and interning at Phawker.

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