Stay the Course in Green Bay

Here’s how bad it is.

If, with two minutes remaining in Saturday evening’s Packers-Niners game, the devil had appeared in my Fritos bag to offer me a bargain — Packers win for Trump victory in 2024 — I would have… had to say I’d get back to him. Of course, of course, I’d do the right thing in the end. But I would just have to weigh the options. You know, Packers beat nemesis to advance to title game at Lambeau next week or likely destruction of American democracy as we know it? Easy choice. You bet. Just let me think about it for a few minutes here. I mean how bad is Trump, really?

Now having done the right thing by the free world by telling the devil to take a hike (I would have! No question!), I’m left with some pretty, pretty tough choices as a Packers owner. My immediate reaction — after firing the special teams coach which actually precedes my immediate reaction — is to want to blow things up and start over. Let Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams go, save the bucks on the salary cap, trade for high draft picks and rebuild. Clearly, the current set of players is built to win the NFC North and not much else. The definition of insanity… and all that.

(Before I go on, let me just pause right here and address the elephant in the room. I know exactly what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘but, Dave, if Matt had only followed your advice and kept Aaron out of the Detroit game this might have all turned out differently.’ Well, I don’t care how true that might be. I’m not going to dwell on the past or on lost opportunities. The coach made his decision and we have to respect that, no matter how right I may have been.)

But let’s step back, take a few deep breaths and, as a wise man once said, R-E-L-A-X.

The mystery turned out to be not so beautiful.

Rodgers and Adams are the best thrower-catcher duo in sports. They’re both healthy, and though getting long in the tooth, still at the top of their game. If they stay, the team will need to somehow manage a payroll that has them $45 million over the cap right now. That won’t be easy, of course, though they can start with cutting Mason Crosby and revamping everybody on special teams. And it doesn’t make things any easier that the two strategies — keeping Rodgers-Adams and managing the cap — are intertwined. Rodgers says he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process.

Still, it’s the best strategy: keep the top stars and somehow build a playoff caliber team around them again. We shouldn’t take for granted a team that wins the division every year. (Would you rather be a Bears fan, people?) Most teams struggle just to get into the playoffs. And, if the Packers have to offload some veteran talent to meet the numbers, that might not be all bad. After all, what’s so great about being the top seed? They’ve come up short two seasons in a row when they’ve held that honor. And the last time they won the Super Bowl they did it as the last seed when they played no playoff games at home. Maybe the trade off is being good, but not great, in the regular season and peaking later as younger players develop during the season.

The official YSDA take on this is that with Rodgers-Adams the team almost certainly makes the playoffs for the next few years, almost regardless of who surrounds them. And once in the post season, any damn thing can happen… as we know all too well.

I know you’re hurting out there, people. We all are. But as a Packers team owner, it’s my job to offer the club my best advice on how to recover from this and move forward. If you see Matt or Brian please share this with them, and if you see the devil tell him to take a hike.

And on another matter… last week I wrote about the dust up over ballot drop boxes. My friend and former boss Spencer Black contacted me to point out, among other counter-arguments, that I was factually wrong when I said that in the 2018 election Wisconsin required a good excuse to vote absentee. And, I should also note, that in an earlier intro to Spencer’s response I inadvertently mischaracterized it as dealing with the drop box issue. My apologies for that error. Here is Spencer’s response: 

Your column today is wrong on one major point. No excuse absentee voting has been in place in Wisconsin for many years  and that makes a really big difference.
Prior to widespread mail-in voting (which includes early voting) there were long lines at polling places in Madison that really discouraged people from voting. Polling places, including the very Democratic Isthmus Wards, were so crowded that folks would be standing on line waiting to vote until 10 or 11 at night after the polls closed at 8. Once no excuse absentee voting came in, the crush at the polling places was eliminated and people who do vote in person could walk in and only have to wait a short or reasonable amount of time to cast a ballot. 

In fact, the efforts in some states to eliminate or limit absentee voting combined with closing polling places is very much a voter suppression tactic.  Check out what is happening in rural Black areas of Georgia where Republicans are closing polling places. 

A historical note.  John Kerry very possibly lost Ohio and the presidency in 2004 because in the Black wards in Cleveland, the Republican Secretary of State took away many of the voting machines. Folks had to wait 6 to 9 hours to vote, in many cases outside on a cold rainy day.  Many of them understandably  left, probably enough to swing Ohio to  Bush and give him the election.  Absentee and early voting helps avoid that voter suppression tactic.

Welcome to the 340th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

One thought on “Stay the Course in Green Bay

  1. Dave, thanks for the additional information on absentee voting. I think all three paragraphs of this blog were by. Spencer Black, but it wasn’t entirely clear. In close races the methods of conducting elections can make a big difference, but the importance of fair elections transcends the outcome.


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