Note: This is a slightly revised version of the editorial that appeared in Tuesday's print edition of the Sun Prairie Star.
Saturday’s dominating victory by the Green Bay Packers over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional playoff round was exciting, but we can think of more reasons why Wisconsin needs another playoff win to advance to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Feb. 7:
Legendary performance -- Not only will Aaron Rodgers cement his place in Packers lore by winning his first NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field, but also his position as Most Valuable Player (MVP) during the COVID-19 season of 2020-21.
Consequently, the Green Bay Packers will be remembered as the team that beat their opponents, but also COVID-19.
Economic development -- When Wisconsin emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism will also rebound. We’re betting many of the trips will be regional at first, with tourists coming from the Midwest to begin with, and certainly Wisconsin and Green Bay’s Lambeau Field (along with the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame) will be significantly high on that list.
Demonstrating that small market teams can compete in the National Football League -- Thanks to the leadership of Aaron Rodgers, under the coaching of Matt LeFleur, the Green Bay Packers have already shown legendary dominance as a team.
But as a franchise, the Packers were left for dead in the 1980s until then-General Manager Ron Wolf worked to bring a little known quarterback named Brett Favre and another legend in Reggie White to Lambeau Field along with coach Mike Holmgren. The rest, of course, is legendary with a Super Bowl victory in 1997.
It was a demonstration that a community-owned, small market NFL franchise could not only compete with, but defeat, larger market and better funded NFL teams.
Wise investments in facilities, including the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, helped cement the legacy and community standing of the Packers -- especially with a Rodgers-guided 2011 victory in Super Bowl XLV.
Advancing to Super Bowl LV further demonstrates that with the correct leadership, coaching and players, any franchise can compete regardless of market size.
The perfect end to a rocky 2020 -- By most accounts, many people want to forget 2020 because of COVID-19, the surrender of most of our freedoms to fight the disease, kids staying home from school -- you name it, there are plenty of reasons to forget it.
What better season for a memorable team to become legendary and win the Super Bowl than one during a year that everyone wants to forget?
Most teams had counted the Packers out in the pre-season pundit predictions, pointing out the Packers had drafted a quarterback instead of much-needed wide receiver help for Rodgers and that decision would result in internal team turmoil.
The season showed the pundits were wrong.
In fact, it showed nearly the exact opposite: The team knew it already had good wide receivers, and Rodgers used the draft decision as a motivation to demonstrate he could still be a quarterback to be reckoned with -- throwing 48 touchdown passes against five interceptions for a total quarterback rating of 121.5 -- all of which led the league during the 2020-21 season.
Rodgers winning the NFL MVP Award and the Green Bay Packers winning Super Bowl LV are the perfect ways to cap a season that is memorable for the wrong reasons because of COVID-19 -- but legendary for Rodgers and the Packers.
For all the previously stated reasons, we think the Packers are truly legendary already, but definitely should advance to Super Bowl LV with a win.
Go Pack Go!