Monday, February 7, 2011

2.7.11 Hero of the Day: Green Bay Packers

Name: The Green Bay Packers
Age: 92
Occupation: football team
Last Seen: Dallas, TX
Awarded For: proving that David can beat Goliath

This year's Super Bowl champions didn't come from a big city; they came from a town half the size than our town of Grand Rapids. 

Their owner isn't a faceless multi-billionaire who hates everybody and everything; it's owned by 112,158 stockholders who outnumber the town by over 10,000 folks. Plus, it's nonprofit. 

They don't play in a flashy, billion-dollar stadium; they play in an older field that did get a nearly $300 million facelift eight years ago. Despite seating 73,128 souls, there's a waiting list to even watch a game at Lambeau Field that stretches 40 years, second only to the New England Patriots' 50-year wait.

Despite being the smallest city to have a pro-sports team, the Green Bay Packers have done it again. They won Super Bowl XLV 31-25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most importantly of all, they did it without the aging Brett Favre or the woman-abusing Ben Roethlisberger. Instead, they did it with a strong offense and defense that lasted until the 2nd quarter when the Steelers started to take over. But, the Pack fended off the Steelers in the end, leading to their fourth Super Bowl championship and their first since 1996. 

When a team is owned by one person, sometimes, they do things that only interest them. Look at the Detroit Lions. They've been owned by William Ford since 1964 and under his leadership, they haven't won a championship since 1957. They've never won a Super Bowl and they actually had a good season last year, if you think winning five games is good. But when you have 112,158 owners, you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen. 

Maybe it's this: teamwork has to happen on and off the field. As a boss, unpopular decisions will lead to rebellion, and if you have fans, they'll leave in droves. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks. For years, the team was owned by Bill Wirtz, who was beyond frugal. He made many unpopular decisions - such as overpriced tickets and not allowing broadcasters to televise home games - and fans left in droves. Then, he died. His son took over and reversed his Dad's decisions. End result: a rejuvenated team and fanbase, plus their first Stanley Cup win since 1961 last year. Same with Wayne Huizenga and his Florida Marlins; they were the first baseball team in history to go from World Series Champions to last place in Major League Baseball. Why? Simple: he reduced his salary cap, angering players and fans alike. 

Point is, maybe in the case of the Packers, being a fan and an owner has its perks. Don't like the team's record? Simple: convince your fellow 112,157 owners to decide with you whether or not this guy's gotta go or to get this guy in the draft. In many cases, being public is a wonderful idea, and as long as there's a 40-year list just for season tickets, it's money in the bank. 

In the end, it's not just the quarterback or the coach that makes the team, but it's also the management. And because of Green Bay and its small-town values, we have big winners. Your town might only have 100,000 people, but at least you have a kick-ass football team to make it cool. 

Long live making the right decisions. Long live the Cheesehead. 


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