14

June

In A World Of Self Service, The World Champion Packers Are Bucking The Trend

Photo from Madison.com

We interrupt this era of egos and selfishness to bring you something completely different.

As any sports fanatic knows, professional athletes in this day and age are more than just athletes. They are marketing machines.  They market not only their name but their brand as well and usually make themselves a nice chunk of money in addition to compensation from their respective teams.

Win a championship in your sport and the marketing goes into overdrive.  Endorsement deals, TV show and movie appearances, their voice on “The Simpsons,” etc.  The end result of this usually helps the players themselves and helps feed their egos.  This is how modern day champions bask in their glory.

Then there’s the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.

At last check, we don’t see Aaron Rodgers’ face plastered all over TV or Clay Matthews making cameos in movies (although he did get a nice deal with Suave).  We don’t see Mike McCarthy writing his tell all memoirs or making a DVD telling the world how great of a coach he is.

Instead, we see Rodgers making an appearance on behalf of the MACC fund. We see Matthews on TV not as an actor, but as a spokesman advocating a cure for Duchenne. We see McCarthy hosting a charity golf tournament and taking the Lombardi Trophy to Children’s Hospital to help brighten the days of some very sick kids.  Donald Driver’s annual softball game brought out a good chunk and the annual Tailgate Tour around Wisconsin helped some players connect and celebrate on a much more personal level.

Hell, Tom Crabtree even met up with some fans in a bar for a tweetup.

The point is the Packers decided to bask in the glory of winning a Super Bowl by helping others instead of helping themselves.   Cheesehead Nation knows how great of a place to play Green Bay is, but the efforts of the Packers post-Super Bowl XLV have reminded America and the world that Titletown is a unique and special place as well.

The Packers are showing the world how it is done.  While championships are huge accomplishments and deserve to be celebrated, using that accomplishment to inflate one’s own self-worth is completely counterintuitive to what led to that championship in the first place.  The Packers recognize this, given all the injuries suffered during the 2010 campaign, and have taken that message to heart as they celebrated winning Super Bowl XLV.  Accomplishing greatness is never the product of one but rather the effort of many.

You could see this in the Packers even in the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl. Rodgers talked about the great group of men and character in the locker room.  McCarthy talked about it. Ted Thompson talked about it.   It’s true that most teams usually say such things after winning a championship, but the Packers are living this rather than just paying lip service to it. They are walking the talk.

Aside from Matthews’ Suave deal (which isn’t HUGE to begin with), you’re not hearing about Rodgers, Jennings or Woodson signing big deals with any big companies like Pepsi or Motorola or any big company. They have stayed true to who they are and they are decent men who care about winning more than their brand and thickening their pocketbooks.

One can only hope other teams in the NFL as well as other sports leagues are taking notice.  The Dallas Mavericks just won their first NBA title as a true team.  They have one big star, but Dirk Nowitzki knew he would have to lean on his other teammates to help carry him to a title.  They were a team in the truest sense of the word.

If the Mavs follow the Packers example and then the winner of the 2011 World Series does as well, then perhaps the greatest legacy of the Super Bowl XLV Champion Green Bay Packers will not be what they did on the field, but rather what they did off it and how they set the example for future teams in all of sports.

That would be a legacy we would all be proud of.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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23 Responses to “In A World Of Self Service, The World Champion Packers Are Bucking The Trend”

  1. Adam Czech says:

    Kris:

    I am a jaded SOB, so keep that in mind while reading my response.

    “Cheesehead Nation knows how great of a place to play Green Bay is, but the efforts of the Packers post-Super Bowl XLV have reminded America and the world that Titletown is a unique and special place as well.”

    Careful throwing around the word “special.” Unique, yes, because Green Bay is a small town with a stadium next to K-Mart. But “special” makes us sound pretentious. I guarantee you nobody besides a couple of lazy television reporters look at the Packers and considers them “special” because they’re in Green Bay. We think they’re special, because they’re our favorite team. But if our favortie team was the Colts, Bears, Bengals or Dolphins, we’d think those teams were special too.

    Also, I’m not sure if the Packers lack of endorsements comes from some sort of widespread team humility. With few exceptions, the NFL brand itself is bigger than its individual players. You just don’t see many NFL players become big-time celebrities that ad agencies turn to to sell products. It’s tough to reach that level of stardome when your entire body is covered by pads and a helmet when you’re on TV.

    Besides, do enodrsement deals and other activities really get in the way of winning? Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, etc., etc…..Just a few examples that have built their personal brands, lined their pockets with endorsement deals, enjoyed individual success and still won championships.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      So this is what happens when you watch way too much wrestling…

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    • Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

      Adam, though I disagree with you I have to give you credit for going against popular opinion here. I always appreciate a bold stance.

      That said, there was a survey done a while ago (I’ll see if I can find it) that asked fans that besides their team, which NFL team had the best atmosphere (tailgating, fan friendliness, etc).

      Guess who won and in a blowout to boot?

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  2. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor 12 says:

    Wait a second,using the word “special” automatically infers “pretentious” and an immediate adding of your name to the “pretentious” list of Jordan,Bryant,Manning,Brady and Jeter.
    I’m sorry but those guys are about themselves then,now and forever.
    A small market team whose players haven’t seeked out fame in another venue is not worthy to be special(unpretentiously)although,all of what they do is “special” on and off the field.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      everyone get up on the wrong side of the bed today?

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    • Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

      Admittedly, “special” is a vague term. Still, even Vikings fans I know use the word to describe Green Bay

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    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor 12 says:

      I do believe I have been misread or I didn’t do a good job expressing myself.
      The Packers are special in every manner except the pretentious one.

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  3. Ron LC says:

    Of course, the Packers are special. Being a fan since I heard my first game at age 7 qualifies me to make that judgement. 63 years of Packer worship makes me especially proud of the current group of Packers. They are a team on and off the field.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Tom Freeman says:

    Along the same lines, I learned this weekend that Aaron Rodgers is going on the board of One Hope Wine, a new company that donates half its profits to funding various charitable causes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Adam Czech says:

    I’m going to get skewered here, but like Macho Man Randy Savage fighting off 10 bad guys at the Royal Rumble, I’ll stand my ground.

    How do non-Cowboys fans react when Cowboys fans refer to Dallas as “America’s Team?” They get pissed off! It’s arrogant and pretentious.

    The Packers are special to Packers fans. To everyone else, we’re another team on the schedule. Call us Titletown, a winning organization, unique, Super Bowl champs, fan-friendly, smart, successful, community-orientated, proven, etc., etc. Those are labels based on fact that most reasonable non-Packers fans agree with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

      There are reasonable non-Packer fans? :P

      I personally could care less about monikers like “America’s Team.” It’s just a ploy to get fans fired up.

      The Packers should be special to all NFL fans. We’re the last standing remnant of an era long gone. The organization is a throwback to the 60s and while the Packers have kept pace with the rest of the league, there is still a truly retro aura around the team.

      You can’t say that about any other team except MAYBE the Steelers but even they have a brand new stadium while Lambeau, though renovated, still holds the same charm inside the bowl as it did 40 years ago.

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I disagree Adam. I have talked to countless people who are not really football fans or fans of other teams who have a soft spot for Green Bay because the circumstances surrounding the team are so different than any other professional team. The Packers are “special” in their eyes, no pretentiousness intended.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • FireMMNow says:

        agree with al. when you go to a game and talk to fans that travel to watch their team at green bay it is obvious that they think green bay is different. Obviously they want their team to beat the packers but you almost always hear, “i have always wanted to watch a game in green bay” and usually they are even more impressed to see how the the game experience feels like a small town that has a fair come to town for 8 sundays a year. they love the atmosphere.

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  6. Manitou says:

    The Packers are the people’s team. There are not the team of Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder or some other egotistical multimillionaire. They belong to the city of Green Bay and the state of Wisconsin. I was originally from Shawano but now live in Colorado. I pay several hundred dollars each year to DirecTV primarily to watch the Packer games. It is very similar to the loyalty one has to his alma mater, not to some owner. People who grew up in Wisconsin and moved out of state are the main reason the Packer fans fill opponent’s stadiums.

    Imagine if some owner like Zygi Wilf threatens to move his team out of town if the city/state will not build him a new stadium. What if the people said, how much do you want for the team and all bought shares in the new Vikings.

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    • Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

      It’s a well known fact that Packer fans are some of the best traveled groups in all of sports. I remember the Super Bowl XXXI highlight video with players talking about how their fans filled the stadium….in Seattle, on the other side of the country.

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