Answering Steve's burning question: why do I root for the packers?
Took me long enough. Steve of Norway has asked me only about a billion times why, if I live in New York, am I a Green Bay Packers fan? I knew I wrote an entry about it at some point - it just took my forever to track it down (for some reason, none of the appropriate keywords were coming up in a search of my site).
First, let it be stated that I root for the Jets as well as the Packers, basically because this is their home (meaning Long Island, where they train and practice), and it gets me on my father's good side.
So, from September 9, 2001: Why I am a Green Bay Packers Fan
The question of the week in my mailbox is this: Why am I a Packers fan when I live in New York? People seem to be very interested in the more mundane aspects of my life, and that suits me just fine. So, for the inquisitive; the poignant, touching history of why I love the Green Bay Packers:
I have always been a football fan. My father was a Jets fan since the beginning, and we grew up watching them. Joe Namath was an early hero of mine, and when my father met him and got his autograph, we lived in this heady state of euphoria for days. We loved football. We loved the Jets.
Eventually the Jets ripped my heart out and moved to New Jersey. I was pissed. I was hurt. I felt as if a long time lover had abandoned me for a sexier, prettier girl. I, in turn, abandoned the Jets. No longer was I one of their biggest fans. I couldn't look them in they eye. I couldn't stand the pain.
I lost interest in football for the most part, and didn't come back to it until I joined a football pool at the local deli a few years later. I came back to the game full force, back to spending my Sundays in front of the tv, cursing and muttering and cheering.
I had no team, though. I was like a man without a country. I had no banner to wave, no colors to wear, no allegiance to pledge. This went on for a few years, with me just rooting for the point spread and some extra cash.
Enter Xavier. I met Xavier several years ago, when I was in the waning stages of my marraige and about to end it. Xavier became a great friend, my one man group therapy and confidant. He was spiritual without being religious, generous to a fault and dying of cancer. He was in the last stages of a hard fought battle, and he gave up on hospitals and chemo and doctors in general. He just wanted to fade away peacefully.
We spent a lot of time together that fall, examining life and talking football. Xavier was a Packers fan through and through. He was from Green Bay. His blood was green and gold. His mood was determined by the accuracy of Bret Favre's arm on any given Sunday.
Towards the end of November that year, Xavier told me he wouldn't make it to Christmas. He was ready to let go of whatever rope he was clinging to. He had enough. He wrote me a letter shortly after Thanksgiving, after he lost the use of his voice, and asked me to honor a few favors he had of me. He asked me to take care of myself, to be good to myself. He asked me not to settle for just anyone just because I didn't want to be alone.
He asked me to always remember him. And he asked me to pledge to him that I would always and forever remain a Packers fan, so I could root for them in his place. I readily agreed to all. I told him I would try to keep most of the promises, and the last one was certainly the easiest.
Xavier died the first week in December. The Packers made it to the Super Bowl and lost to Denver. Of course, I have never forgotten him. I have been mostly good to myself and no, I didn't settle. And I am still, and always will be, a Packers fan.
So here's to the Packers, Xavier and keeping promises to friends.
And that's the story.