Now that the team has been dissed by their own -- in prime time, no less, with John Madden and Al Michaels tsk-tsking -- Lambeau Field becomes just another stadium where the fans turn on the team and turn down the concourse back to the bars.
The price of a ticket entitles fans to react, legally, as they see fit. That includes people donning cheese wedge hats and partially disrobing in freezing temperatures.
No one can deny that the freedom extends to booing the home team. Afterall, they let anyone with the correct (blue) ticket into Lambeau Field Saturday, even if they didn't have enough football saavy or even the common decency to know that they were booing the same team that:
--won 12 regular-season games, including entertaining the fans by taking all eight at home
--won the inaugural NFC North Division title, reclaiming a division title for the first time since '97.
--Came within one game, albeit a poor one, of the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
--Produced a plethora of Pro Bowlers including the starting QB, who was four votes away a fourth MVP feather to stick in his cap.
Here's a dozen more reasons why the fans who embarrassed themselves and the Packers on national television were wrong:
Mark Tauscher, Chad Clifton, Darren Sharper, Ahman Green, Vonnie Holliday, Antuan Edwards, Terry Glenn, Earl Dotson, Gilbert Brown, Joe Johnson and the rest of the long list of starters who missed time due to injury. How about Brett Favre, wheeled off on a cart with an injured knee, trying to hide his emotions but still managing to salute to the fans. The fans boos' Saturday were also absorbed by Donald Driver, who came down hard on a dislocated shoulder to secure the team's only TD. Don't forget Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who had to receive IV fluid to get onto the field and who earlier in the season managed to keep it together for his team following the death of his mother. Then there's Holliday, always playing hurt, helping the team win when he turned in five sacks hours after learning that his teenage cousin died.
The Packers haven't had a losing season in 12 years. They are the only team in the league that can make that claim. They have set themselves apart, but Saturday night, the fans did not.
I've been in Soldier Field, the Metrodome, the Silverdome and many other sorry venues where teams much, much worse than these Green Bay Packers were sent off to a chorus of boos, and I always had a feeling a superiority that Lambeau Field fans just don't do it.
This weekend, the Lambeau Field "faithful" were bested by San Franciscans, who didn't boo when their team when down by 3 TDs at home in the second half Sunday. They rose to the occasion and helped harrass the Giants and Kerry Collins into disarray which opened the door for the 49ers comeback. Could have helped, certainly couldn't have hurt. Steeler fans have always had a good reputation, and unlike Green Bay spectators, they upheld that honor as their team staged a similar rally. No one was booing in Pittsburgh even when they quickly went down by two TDs thanks to a muffed punt -- sound familiar?
Larry "The Rock" McCarren said it best when he related how he played for some pretty bad Packer teams (1973-84) and never heard booing like that -- or even booing at all -- in Lambeau Field.
Maybe it's the bitter disappointment of the premature end of the season. Maybe it's the sting of knowing this weekend, Packer fans weren't the best. Hopefully it will fade, but for now this life-long Packer fan and season ticket holder can't help feeling that things will never be quite the same.