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By Ryan Glasspiegel
January 12th, 6pm CST. When I got the invitation in the mail, I immediately knew that the wedding would be during a Packers playoff game. That Green Bay would have to qualify for the second round and that they might play Sunday the 13th were irrelevant. Sometimes, you just know things. And I just knew.
As many SEC fans feel about their respective football teams, I hold the Packers in sacred regard. I am more emotionally invested in them than in any religion. There are only 16-20 games a year and this relative scarcity calls for my undivided attention. I throw a childish hissy fit if I have to miss so much as a down.
Last year, on a family vacation in Borneo, I sought out satellite television in the middle of the wilderness to watch a Week 16 Packers-Bears game that didn’t even have any impact on the standings. In the week leading up to this game, my mom had grown so tired of my constant agonizing as to whether or not I’d be able to watch it that she probably would have signed disownment papers if it meant she’d never have to hear about it again. (I can’t say I would have blamed her.)
So, from the moment I received my invitation, I had to pray for a couple of things: 1) that the Packers would not end up in the Ravens-Broncos timeslot where I would have had to miss the entire second half, and 2) that I could get good enough reception and have good enough battery life to stream the game on my iPhone. On these ends, The Great Spirit came through, but I may have used up all my karma on those two fronts when I needed to be saving some for the game.
While the groom twice told me that he’d understand if I skipped his wedding, this was never really an option. Even I know that you can’t miss your close friends’ weddings. There are few things more scarce and sacred than Packers playoff games, but some (though perhaps not all) weddings qualify. This particular one was between two of my best friends from college. They have been together for over seven years and are unconditionally devoted to each other’s unconditional happiness. Their relationship is one of those rare ones where each individual’s close friends and family feel equally connected to the spouse. They have a bond for which we should all aspire.
Although I’d like to hope I would have made the same decision if I had to go completely dark for the game, we thankfully live in 2013. This means that with my friend’s Slingbox password, a $15.53 after-tax purchase from the App store, a wifi connection, and a mobile battery charger that my mom recently gave me as a present, I was able to stream the game starting early in the second quarter.
After seeing Colin Kaepernick run and throw for approximately 7,892 yards (only a slight exaggeration), maybe it would have been better to be in the dark.
But, a weird thing happened. After the Packers punted from midfield on 4th-and-5 and Kaepernick led yet another touchdown drive to give the 49ers a 21-point lead and effectively end the Packers season, I didn’t feel any of the normal pain that is typically associated with such finality. You know what I’m talking about–the stomach punch, the difficulty standing up, the “what-if” anguish that consumes your entire being for years.
Firstly, my attention was divided–I was watching the game on a four-inch screen with no sound and probably only saw about half of the game’s plays. Secondly, I was so happy for the couple that even something so important as a playoff loss felt wholly insignificant.
Normally, this game would’ve ruined my month. (Actually, probably plural). Instead, it didn’t even ruin my night.
Now, perhaps the game would have turned out differently if only I were able to focus on it. I’m sure this sounds really stupid to anyone who doesn’t feel the same way about their teams. But, those of us who do have already made an utterly irrational leap of faith. Why on Earth should we care if a group of players who we don’t know and will likely only meet for brief 30-second pockets when we line up to buy their autographs rises and falls in a specific set of laundry? Once we’ve come to terms with this madness and continue to go at it recklessly, the idea that our actions impact the games is not so farfetched.
Bud Light is currently running an ad campaign with the slogan, “It’s not crazy if it works.”
ESPN has had a similar one for years. For me, I have a lucky outfit that I only break out for big games. It involves a cheesehead hat and a sewn Clay Matthews jersey and I swear to Aaron Rodgers that it’s undefeated. (I retired the cheesehead after the 2011 Super Bowl run but brought it back for select games this season after the pain and anguish of last year’s Giants loss.) I know that this IS crazy, but once again it’s really not that much crazier than being a crazed sports fan in the first place.
Let’s assume for a second that my lack of focus and proper outfit did adversely affect the outcome of the game. (I know, I know, but we’ve been over this already.) Even if that were the case, I’d do it again. No regrets. This wedding was more spiritually fulfilling for me than even a Packers playoff victory would have been. Consequently, I am struggling to think of a scenario where I would have been more comfortable with a Packers playoff loss.
It turns out that seeing your favorite couple get married is the best way to cope with a debilitating Packers playoff loss.
Follow Ryan Glasspiegel on Twitter @SportsRapport and see his regular writing at SportsRapport.com.