Incomparable Ring, Incomparable Season

In the midst of the NFL lockout, the Packers found a way to get together as a team last week by holding a ceremony to put a measure of closure on their 2010 Super Bowl season. Of all their championships, this one is unmatched. Matt Tevsh has the history lesson.

The Green Bay Packers gave a nod to history last week when they unveiled and awarded their championship rings at a private ceremony at Lambeau Field for the team.

All told, each ring contains 119 diamonds. Ninety-two surround the centerpiece "G" logo to represent the franchise's 92-year history. Thirteen more diamonds fill up the "G" logo to represent the team's 13 championships. And four larger diamonds — one in each corner of the ring — are positioned to commemorate the team's four Super Bowl titles.

Of course, it was the most recent Super Bowl victory that was the reason for the gathering. The Packers' triumph last February in Super Bowl XLV defied the odds by its path.

No other No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs — since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990 — had won a Super Bowl. Only the Steelers, the AFC team whom the Packers beat in February, had done it n the NFL (2005).

That Steelers team actually won eight straight games to end the season as opposed to the Packers' six straight in 2010. The 2005 Steelers won their last four regular-season games to finish 11-5 in a tough AFC and would become just the second wild-card team (Patriots, 1985) to win three games on the road to make it to the Super Bowl.

Since then, both the 2007 Giants (a No. 5 seed) and the Packers have accomplished the feat. Both went on to win the big game to cap their improbable runs. So, while the Packers' road journey last season had some precedent in NFL annals, the same cannot be said for team annals.

The Packers had a much easier go of it winning their first three Super Bowls. The 1996 team finished 13-3, taking the No. 1 seed to decisive home wins in the NFC playoffs and then a 35-21 triumph in Super Bowl XXXI. The 1967 team had the third-best record in a 16-team NFL, but won two home playoff games (including the Ice Bowl) before winning Super Bowl II. And the 1966 team had the league's best record (12-2), needing to win just one playoff game (in the two-division NFL) before winning Super Bowl I over the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs.

Even before the days of the Super Bowl, the Packers never were considered an underdog contender during the midst of their championship years. In 1965, they finished 10-3-1 atop the Western Division; the 1962 and 1961 teams were considered among the best in team history, finishing 13-1 and 11-3, respectively; the 1944 team led the Western Division the whole way; and the 1939 and 1936 teams never let the hard-charging Bears ahead of them at any time down the stretch.

Only the 1929-31 Packers, the NFL's first real dynasty, can compare to what the 2010 Packers went through on the way to a title. With the way the league schedule was set up then, each of those Packers teams had to take to the road to finish off their season — the 1929 team finishing with eight straight away from home, the 1930 team with seven, and the 1931 team with six out of seven. Combined, they won 14 out of those 21 games.

Of course back then, there was no playoff system. The champion was determined by league standing. So, while many of those road games down the stretch were critical for the Packers holding off the New York Giants (in 1929 and 1930) and Portsmouth (in 1931) to win the title, they failed to hold the weekly one-and-done pressure the 2010 Packers faced from Dec 26 through Feb. 6.

That makes the most recent Packers season perhaps the most special in team history. At the very least, it definitely has a different ring to it.


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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