Saturday, January 6, 1996

Can You Believe It?

Oh, baby! Was that a game or what? I'm going to ramble for awhile, as I am still too keyed up to organize my thoughts any better.

Last night, our family went down to the Packers' hotel, just to hang around. We saw Favre, Chmura, Butler, Brooks, Shurmur, Bennett, Wolf, Sean Jones and probably others we didn't recognize. I was impressed that they all seemed so calm, joking around about how many sacks Sean Jones would get, etc., when my stomach was already working itself into a knot. Now I know why! They had the self-confidence they needed.

We all went to the game early (as it turned out, my wife was able to go, too). We had a hell of a time finding the America's Pack tailgate party, but no difficulty at all finding Packer fans. There were thousands of us, as I imagine you could tell even on TV.

We had pretty good sideline seats, in the area mostly populated by long-time season ticket holders. We were not hassled in the slightest at any time. Now that I have been to a couple of Raider games, I can say that the crowd is entirely different. The 49er fans are, for the most part, decent human beings, while the Raider fans are far more intense, but they are really not nice people. Just so that I don't get too carried away with how nice the 49er fans were, I should mention the really classy T-shirts being sold outside the gates, which said "Piss on the Packers." They were pretty heavily discounted after the game, for some reason.

Lots of signs in the stands. My two favorites were "Young will cut the cheese" (well actually he did, sorta) and a Packer sign referring to Super Bowls I, II, and XXX.

What a way to start! A defensive TD on the first play for the 49ers! Then the offense just took over. 21-0 in the 2d quarter? You've got to be kidding me! I didn't even dare to hope for such a thing. I was just hoping that the Packers might have a chance to win it in the 4th quarter. Young getting hammered all day long, Rice kept in check (relatively speaking), no running game for the 49ers, no turnovers for the Packer offense. It was just a perfect day from start to finish.

We have all, if we are old enough, been waiting for 28 years to go back to the NFC Championship game. But my wife and I have been waiting for 15 years of exile in the Bay Area for this particular game, and we will always remember having been there when it happened.

There has been a slight undercurrent around here to the effect that Favre had a great year, but how could you say that he is more valuable than Jerry Rice. Or as this morning's SF Chronicle said "All right, Brett Favre: Prove it." Well, I guess he did. One of my less gracious 49er fan acquaintances asked me yesterday whether I was "going to see the slaughter." Well, yes, but not exactly the slaughter he had in mind.

And what about the defense! I for one have not given them a lot of credit this year, but they came up big time today. It was a pleasure to watch them.

I listened to the 49er radio team during the game, and I watched every local sports report I could on TV tonight. To their credit, I repeatedly heard things like "the 49ers were out-coached, out-played and out-hit today." The 49er players were quite gracious in defeat, too. No whining, no excuses. The truth is this was a total team victory. On the way out of the stadium, in between high-fiving countless dozens of Packer fans, a good number of 49er fans came up to us to congratulate us, wish us well, tell us that they hope the Packers win the Super Bowl, etc.

I hope you all enjoyed this game as much as I did, because if you did you are a pretty happy bunch right now. Good night, and GO EAGLES!

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