It was 90 degrees and humid afternoon when the Green Bay Packers jogged onto the EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, to play the Jaguars. The Packers beat Jacksonville 27-23 to start off the new season.
Packer fans were treated to a great opening game: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers shot amazing bullets down field and ran for a touchdown. Running back Eddie Lacy looked downright Walter Payton-esque with the strong arming of linebackers.
Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson is back after a year out due to injury and you actually couldn’t tell from his playmaking. Nelson scored a touchdown, too, a moment that made him pause on his knee.
The Offensive Line did not miss Josh Sitton, a pro-bowler who was traded at the last minute. As long as the O-Line can defend Rodgers in the pocket, coach Mike McCarthy is going to look like the freaking genius that he is for that personnel decision.
And on defense, well, Clay Matthews is still a monster. The Secondary was energetic, though sloppy, at times. Luckily, the Packers definitely got a few calls in their favor when it came to defensive holding, as the refs let them get away several obvious penalties.
Special Teams was a disaster, what with missed punts that left the Packers starting at their own end zone a few times. Time management was stellar, as the Packers took their time going down field and ran out the clock in the Fourth Quarter.
So Packers fans have reason to be jubilant: the Offense gelled, the Defense hummed and the Packers are top of the NFC-North. Chances look good for the Packers to win yet another NFC-North Title.
Sportscasters are saying it was a close game, but it wasn’t that close. You know how the newscasters like to blow things out of proportion, no matter the spectacle.
The Packers opening day coincided with the League’s commemoration of September 11th terrorist attacks of 2001.
“We’re a patriotic league,” says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer.
For once, I agree with Goodell: the National Football League is very patriotic, if you define patriotism as loyalty to official US government policies. Flags waved, jets flew over stadiums, the Veterans and military personnel took the field as crowds saluted them.
Patriotism, though, can also be support for the nation’s ideals of equality. And these two flanks of patriotism were on display this opening weekend of the football season.
If Goodell represents the jingoism of knee-jerk patriotism, Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, represents the patriotism Langston Hughes described in his poem “Let America Be America Again.”
Kaepernick has been silently protesting police brutality and racism by sitting or kneeling down during the National Anthem. It all started during the preseason.