Book Report: Life After Favre by Phil Hanrahan (2009)

Book coverI bought this book in 2019. Maybe I didn’t know when the time would be right to read it, but given the nonsense in this off season, wherein people are claiming that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Green Bay Packers any more, I knew the time was now. As to the truth of the Rodgers situation, I can believe it. In spite of his being good at Jeopardy! and an entertaining host of it, I can find it easy to believe he wants to leave–I saw the look in his eyes last year, when the conference championship was at Lambeau Field. He did not want to be out there playing football in the cold. So I can find it easy to believe that he might want to play somewhere warmer. But if he does, a pox on him.

But that’s not about this book. This book. Well, it’s an interesting book, all right, a bit interesting in its conception and execution. The author, living in LA at the time but a native Wisconsinite, decides he wants to write a book about the year after Favre left. So he moves to Green Bay for the season, but also attends several games in different places and travels to Kansas to watch a game in Jordy Nelson’s parents’ bar, travels to Kiln, Mississippi, the home of Brett Favre, and travels all over while renting a place in an extended stay in Green Bay. He goes around, talks to other fans, and…. Well, that’s the book. Not a whole lot of insight into the Favre thing other than recounting a bit of it which had kinda fallen out of my mind, and he brings up the names of some nearly forgotten Packers players for some pleasant memories. The book plays up the young Aaron Rodgers as eager to please, to lead, and to make a good impression with his teammates–an impression that, over time, looks a bit disingenuous.

Of course, as I’m reading this, I’m wondering who’s paying for it. I mean, fronting the money for that sort of thing must have been fairly expensive, and this is not a big name author or the member of some media organization. This looks to be about his only book. In the acknowledgements, he thanks his parents for his support, and I thought, a-ha! When I read the back flap of the dust jacket after I finished the book (I removed it while reading the book–funny, it’s there to protect the book, but nowadays we, and by we, I mean I, protect the protector more than the protected), I discovered that he taught writing at Marquette. He must have been after me, I told my beautiful wife, but actually we overlapped–but he must have been an adjunct or associate professor, teaching the 001 classes or something, since I did not take his classes, and I was not only in the Writing Intensive English program, but I had so many English credits that my graduation was in jeopardy (is that the second time that word has appeared in this book report? Is double jeopardy even allowed in these things?).

At any rate, so how did the Favre thing compare to the Rodgers thing? Kinda close, actually: Rumors and hints in the national media, a primadonna star quarterback who believes unfallibly that he’s in the right and that he’s not respected, and the general manager should be sacked. Worry that nobody would want to play for Green Bay without the recently departed star quarterback. The Packers did really get lucky with two really good quarterbacks in a row leading to 25 years of really good football–I’m a fair weather fan who really only got into it about twenty years ago, so I don’t remember the lean years. Perhaps if the Packers revert to the mean, I will end up only kind of following them and catching a game here or there kind of like I follow the St. Louis Blues these days. Eh, we will see.

So I did flag a couple of things for comment.

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You Don’t Say

Aaron Rodgers booed by fans at Brewers minor league game amid Packers staredown:

It’s safe to say that Aaron Rodgers isn’t the most popular person in Wisconsin at the moment.

During a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers home game, a minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, Rodgers came on the video board to do a commercial for Bergstrom Autos. The Packers quarterback – long considered a hero in the state of Wisconsin – was audibly booed, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Todd Rosiak.

Why, it’s been a couple of days since I’ve publickly applied an unflattering sobriquet to him.

I kind of wonder what his ratings would be like as the Jeopardy! host now. Prediction: Not as good as they would have been had he announced his retirement a month ago.

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He Could Be Just The Man

Matt Flynn rejects call by two Democratic lawmakers to exit governor’s race.

You know, he almost beat the Patriots. He would be just the man Wisconsin Democrats need to almost beat Scott Walker.

Wait a minute.

Two Assembly Democrats called on former party leader Matt Flynn to exit the governor’s race over his role in shielding priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Never mind, that’s a different guy.

Which is a good thing, because a former Green Bay Packer could probably beat Scott Walker. Well, maybe not Greg Jennings.

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Book Report: Distant Replay by Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap (1985)

Book coverThis book comes fifteen years after A Farewell to Football and details the first reunion of the Super Bowl I Packers in Green Bay. Kramer discusses what each player at the reunion has done since his football days ended. It’s a wide variety of stories: Max McGee founded the ChiChi’s restaurant chain and then cashed out for $18 million. A couple players went onto other teams, but never had anything like the Packers even if they won Super Bowls with other teams (and many did; the league was smaller then). Some have beaten cancer. Many are on their second wives (including Kramer), which is strange, because those of us latchkey kids from the 1980s thought our parents invented divorce.

It’s chock full of some good trivia, including the first player to play for both the NFL and Major League Baseball (Tom Brown, not Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson) and the first player to play in a Super Bowl and to coach a team in the Super Bowl (Forrest Gregg).

The tone of the book kind of makes you feel a little sympathy for Kramer, though. His optimism from his previous book seems a little forced in this book, and he does seem a little envious of those who have done better than he did since he mentions their net worth a lot. He’s not unconscious of the scorekeeping though, and he’s not done bad for himself, but he’s a six-hundred-acre guy (the size of his ranch) and knows although some people are sixty-acre-guys, a couple are six-hundred-thousand acre guys. And it rankles a bit.

So it’s a bit of a melancholy read being a retrospective of sorts and because it comes right on the heels of the previous book. That fifteen years vanishes instantly. And fifteen years after they stopped playing, all of these guys are a little older than I am and they’re far ahead of me in Krameresque scorekeeping. But in 1985, none of them had blogs with ten years of archives generating dozens of Google search hits a day and twenty cents annually in ad revenue. WHO’S WINNING THE 21st CENTURY? ME!

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Book Report: A Farewell to Football by Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap (1969, 1979)

Book coverJerry Kramer wrote this book a little more than a year after Instant Replay. The year after that book, the first year after Lombardi (who retires from coaching at the end of Instant Replay), the Packers cratered and lost more games than they won. Kramer’s Instant Replay became a best seller and he was quite in demand as a speaker and television guest. So he decided to give up playing football and to be a businessman since he has quite a few irons in the fire already.

So this book is a bit musing along those lines and a bit more detailed biography than Instant Replay. It doesn’t hold together quite as well as the first book as it had a unifying theme, and this one does not as much. It also might have been rushed out to capitalize on the success of Instant Replay.

At any rate, as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if Kramer’s optimism in his post-football life and business dealings were a bit optimistic. I wondered whether a lot of deals and opportunities came his way simply because he was a champion professional football player. I was pleased to see toward the end of the book that Kramer himself acknowledged this doubt.

So it’s not as good as Instant Replay, but it’s a pretty quick and easy read.

The books might also explain why Jerry Kramer is not in the football Hall of Fame: both of these books have a perspective about playing football that the industry might not want expressed. Kramer sees football as a job that he knows will end someday and, honestly, might not be the job he focused on in his last years in football. That might have stung some of the league officialdom at the time who might have wanted more focus on football, if not exclusive focus on football. Oh, how they might wish nowadays that the outside life of football players merely included business deals and hunting instead of lawbreaking.

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Book Report: Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap (1968)

Book coverIt’s been eleven years since I read this book. I remember I took it with me over a long weekend that my beautiful bride and I took to Kansas City. Funny what happens in eleven years. Now I remember well the name of the book store in Springfield since I pass it several times a week. But I probably only go into it as frequently as I did back when it was a pilgrimage when we went to Springfield.

At any rate, this report is going to be a lot like the first one: Jerry Kramer was the left guard for the Packers in the 1960s, and the year captured in this book is the run up to the third consecutive NFL championship and second Super Bowl (although the coach, Vince Lombardi, is more concerned with the former than the latter). Kramer talks about his aging in the game, about the mechanics, techniques, and preparations involved in the game, and his outside interests and investments. It’s a pretty loose and readable style and it carries you along even if you don’t know football or the historical nature of the season. Actually, this report is going to be a lot shorter than the other because I’m just going to summarize the book and direct you to that earlier report for more depth.

I picked up this copy of the book because it had the dust jacket, unlike my other copy, and I got it with a couple of other Kramer books. So expect a couple other reviews of his works during football season interspersed among the picture books.

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I Know The Feeling

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes a lot of jokes his teammates don’t get:

Aaron Rodgers is almost certainly going to win his second most-valuable-player award this season. With a remarkable 38-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he has been the best quarterback in football. His Green Bay Packers offense is one of the most well-orchestrated in the league. Rodgers is, by all accounts, perfect.

And then there are his jokes.

The only time Rodgers isn’t on the same page with his teammates is when he is telling jokes. Rodgers’s attempts at humor are so layered and dry, those who know him say, that the only thing more common than a playbook in the Packers’ locker room is the clueless comment, Is he joking?
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“His jokes are what we call ‘Algebra 2,’ ” said Daryn Colledge, a Miami Dolphins offensive lineman and former Packers teammate. “I think a lot of people don’t get it.”

I know the feeling. I make a lot of jokes, often without a smile to indicate they’re jokes. A lot of time, they require a bit of obscure knowledge or learning to understand them.

And sometimes when I make a joke, one person in the room laughs. Which makes it all worthwhile.

Rodgers’s jokes, teammates say, are almost entirely for his own entertainment.

Mine, too.

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Real Journalist Confirms MfBJN Investigation

Today on Packers.com, the Packers historian comments on the Packers-Lions game in 1962:

This might be a first for me. I read a book for the second time. I read Vince Lombardi’s “Run to Daylight” when it was first published in 1963, and I read my same hardcover copy – not the newer paperback version – again in recent weeks.

. . . .

Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t find all the answers in “Run to Daylight,” but I was pretty certain I’d find enough evidence to support two of my contentions related to the game the book was built around: Detroit at Green Bay, Oct. 7, 1962.

The book itself does not identify the opponent, but I did my own research and revealed this to the Internet three years ago:

This book chronicles the week of preparation that the Green Bay Packers the week before the October 7, 1962 game against the (spoiler alert) Detroit Lions from the perspective of head coach Vince Lombardi. The book doesn’t name the opponent, but a little research will yield it. Although a Google search asking who the opponent was for this book apparently has not until now not yielded the result. Instead, I sussed it out by the final score and confirmed it by the mention of the UCLA upset of Ohio State. Look, ma, I’m a researcher!

Remember to stay tuned to MfBJN for more breaking news from fifty years ago!

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Book Report: Green Bay Packers: Legends in Green and Gold by William Povletich (2005)

This is the one of three books I got this Christmas, and it’s the first I “read.” I put that in quotation marks because it’s a picture book, or at least a book of pictures with captions. It chronicles the history of the Green Bay Packers and the different eras within the organization and serves as well as a bit of history of the NFL. If you’ve been a recent (relatively) active Packers fan (as opposed to a dormant Packers fan, which is someone born in Wisconsin or the UP of Michigan who does not follow football), you know of the names Lambeau, Hornung, Hutson, and so on. This book puts faces to the names and puts the names in their appropriate historical context.

Also, it’s a book you can skim in three hours while watching a Packers game. As nature intended it!

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Brat Favor

Brian’s favored resolutions to the 2008 Brett Favre Crisis:

  • Trade him to New Orleans for Mike McKenzie.
  • Trade him to Atlanta for a couple of Michael Vick’s rescued dogs. They’ll be more loyal and less fickle.
  • Send him to a CFL team, an outdoor one if there’s one available, and let him play in the cold all the time.

Ever since he didn’t file his retirement papers, I thought he wanted a trade. How quickly can I turn on a favorite player? Less quickly than he can turn on his fans. You can go somewhere else, Favre, but you won’t be the Brett Favre you were in Green Bay. You’ll be a rented journeyman quarterback.

Excuse me while I go order my Kampman jersey.

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At Least Some Good Came Of It

Bears’ Shutout Means Free Furniture:

Kendall County furniture store owner and “huge Bears fan” Randy Gonigam got tired of players bragging about their defense, so he decided to put his money where their mouths are. Over Labor Day weekend, Gonigam’s World Furniture Mall in Plano offered customers free furniture – up to $10,000 – if the Bears shut out the Green Bay Packers in their season opener. Four quarters, 206 customers and about $300,000 later, Gonigam is still a little shell-shocked.

Let the conspiracy rumors begin: Mike McCarthy threw the game for a nice bedroom set.

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Plan Your Travel Accordingly

If you’re going to the sold-out scrimmage at Lambeau Field tonight, be advised that WISN is reporting that:

  • Hotel rooms are booked as far away as Oshkosh.
  • Green Bay has begun closing some roads for safety’s sake.
  • As of 11:00 am, the tailgating has begun in the parking lots.

If you cannot make the game, rest assured it will be on television this evening.

For a scrimmage.

Well, not just a srimmage. A Packers scrimmage.

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