Friday, December 5, 2008

Veggie-Friendly Green Bay Packers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Something is wrong in Titletown, and I am not just talking about the Packers' disappointing 5-7 record (although that certainly is wrong, too). Instead, I refer to the fact, disclosed in the Green Bay Press-Gazette this week, that Lambeau Field is considered the 5th most vegetarian-friendly stadium in the NFL by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They were impressed by the veggie bratwurst (veggie bratwurst?), peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and baby carrots on the Lambeau Field menu.

Now, I have nothing against vegetarians. I have even, on rare occasions, gone out to dinner or lunch with vegetarians. But this "recognition" is bestowed by PETA, the very same group that famously demanded that the Packers change their name to something not associated with the meat-packing industry (not to mention their many other tasteless and offensive stunts). They suggested something like the Pickers (referring to pickers of fruits and vegetables) or the Six-Packers (referring to the obvious). Bob Harlan had the good sense to tell PETA, politely I am sure, to shove it. So when PETA starts to praise Lambeau Field for its veggie fare, it is time to add more meat to the menu.

Now we turn to the other little problem in Titletown, the 5-7 record and the fact that the Vikings lead the Packers by 2 games, and the Bears lead the Packers by 1 game, with four games to go. This is a real problem. Nobody likes to play the game that goes: "if the Packers win all their remaining games, and if . . . and if . . .," but unfortunately that is exactly where we find ourselves. The most obvious part of the problem is that there is no good reason to assume that a team that has won less than 50% of its games, and has lost 4 of its last 5 games, will go on a 4-game winning streak. At the same time, the Packers could easily win each of their remaining games (vs. Houston, at Jacksonville, at Chicago, and vs. Detroit). None of the opponents even have a winning record. So let's assume, for the sake of argument, and recognizing that there is no remaining margin for error, that the Packers win all those games. What then?

Well, the Vikings should certainly beat the Lions, but they could easily lose their last 3 games (at Arizona, vs. Atlanta, and vs. the Giants, even if the Giants bring neither Plaxico Burress nor his weapons cache to the game). The Bears could easily lose to the Packers and the Saints, and they could also drop a game either to the Jaguars or to the Texans. If all that happens, then the Packers win the division at 9-7, and the Vikings and the Bears both finish at 8-8, so we don't even have to figure the tie-breakers.

But, of course, this is still a little like tossing coins and looking for 8 "heads" in a row. So this is no time to be making travel plans for that home playoff game on January 3 or 4.