All is quiet north of the border this morning. Once 2 p.m. hits, it might as well be utterly silent. Pick any random town in the state of Wisconsin and you’ll find a virtual ghost town. Frozen tumbleweed might as well blow across Main Street. It isn’t a time to be out and about amidst the hustle and bustle. There is a football game to be played. A football game that may be more important than any ever played (if you ask anyone around here). Shit is about the go real as the actual battle is being fought.
The citizens of Wisconsin aren’t often united on any issues. If we aren’t debating the merits of a high speed train system, we are arguing about a state wide smoking ban. There has always been plenty to disagree about. However, one thing has generally kept us all on the same page. When it comes to Packers football, this state bands together like chubby kids sneaking out of fat camp.
Just look at Facebook this morning. It is littered with references to the game. Hell, the past week has been filled with posts. There hasn’t been a game getting this much attention ever as far as I am concerned. People are taking this seriously. Not just seriously, but bat shit seriously. The fans are more into this game and rivalry than the players are.
We all know the history. This is only the second time the Packers have ever played the Bears in the playoffs. It is the first time ever that the NFC was decided between these teams. It is an epic scenario just based off of the history of the two teams. Then take into consideration that a few years back, when hired, Lovie Smith made his first goal as the coach to beat the Packers. That is a bold fucking statement. And you know what? He followed through and beat the Packers that year. That didn’t sit well with Packers nation.
Fast forward to this season. The Bears won the NFC North in a fashion that was composed of luck and inept play by the Packers. The general sentiment is that the Packers lost the division more so than the Bears won it. On the other hand, the Bears fans all feel as if the critical world of sports is shitting on their team. They expected more respect since they did win the division and earned a first round bye. Their team is playing at home. However, somehow, they are listed as the underdogs. As a true fan of my own team, I know that would piss me off.
The rivalry was in full force this week. Nasty verbal barbs were being exchanged. Jokes were forwarded in emails. Pictures were photoshopped into trash talking media. Music videos were shared across facebook. It is not just Packers versus Bears or the city of Green Bay versus Chicago. This is about Wisconsin versus Illinois, or how both sides would describe it, Good versus Evil. This is about those god damned tolls we have to pay just to visit Ikea. This is about the jacked up prices in Lake Geneva. This is about all the jokes about bad driving or the implication that being a cheesehead is a bad thing. All the frustrations of two states in storied feud gets settled on a football field near the shores of Lake Michigan. A trip to the Super Bowl is technically on the line, but so are bragging rights.
Wisconsites want to stick it to the FIBs. Illini want to shut up all the beer drinking cheeseheads. Whoever wins will get about seven months of bragging rights before the loser gets another shot in this feud. Seven months can be a long fucking time.
Many will say that this is just a game. Those people clearly don’t understand the gravity of the situation.