by Mark Metzler
Welcome to the strangest football season ever — no fans in the stands and the possibility that at any time a player could become inactive because of COVID-19.
It’s hard to imagine an empty Lambeau Field. No tailgating. No high fives. None of that. But, that’s our reality right now.
You have to ask yourself if they even should be playing? Obviously, the NFL thought long and hard about it. I wish the league a lot of luck with the decision.
From a purely football point of view, I’d like to see the season get called off so the Packers can get a re-do on the draft. Maybe the team would do better with the 2021 draft class. In 2020, the Packers had one of the worst drafts in team history, if not NFL history.
Let’s be clear. The team was one win away from the Super Bowl. It lacked wide receivers, and what do they get in a wide receiver heavy draft? Their next quarterback. Sure, it’s good to look to the future, but Aaron Rodgers is still pretty good, and the team was a few upgrades from getting to the Super Bowl. What does that draft really mean? It means that management threw in the towel on getting to the Super Bowl this year and really just hopes to field a competitive team. Make no mistake, they threw in the towel on this year. It makes it harder to get excited.
The only decent wide receiver they were able to sign was Devin Funchess, who would have been a number two or three wide receiver, a slight upgrade from what they had on the field. But Funchess decided to opt out of the season because of COVID concerns. Who can blame him? The team was still working out wide receivers last week. The team actually got worse at right tackle with the loss of Bryan Bulaga and worse at inside linebacker with the loss of Blake Martinez. But who knows? With no pre-season to watch and lack of in-depth reporting, it’s hard to get a feel for what the Packers will put on the field.
The team was 13-3 last year and got to the NFC championship game. The team overachieved, and it was a great year. Given the lack of upgrades and the improvements of others in the division, I’d be really happy if the Packers were 10-6. That should make the playoffs, if the season gets that far.
We’ll beat the Vikings on Sunday. Despite their good draft and relatively good off-season, they are still the Vikings, and their secondary is suspect. The big if is whether Rodgers will get enough time to throw the ball.
So, what about the 800-pound defensive tackle in the room? What about COVID?
I get that all the players are tested all the time and very few of them test positive for COVID-19. I understand that a distraction would help us in this very difficult and strange time. Players will get COVID. Because of the nature of the sport, they will pass it to other players. Yes, they are young, but many have co-morbidities, like obesity, and that puts stress on their hearts. Some player, maybe more, will die from this.
Fans are at risk, too, even with empty and nearly empty stadiums. Fans will gather in homes and bars. They will tailgate. We all want to cheer our team victory. It’s natural. We need something to cheer about. I hope one thing we get to cheer about in the near future is a vaccine. The way we’ve been living is no way to live. Until then, we all need to do all we can. Nearly 190,000 people have died – Packers fans, Vikings fans, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents. It’s heartbreaking.
In the end, I hope that I’m wrong about it all (except beating the Vikings). I hope that Packers’ management really did know what they were doing. I hope the season goes off without a hitch. We need the distraction. We need something to cheer about in this very strange season.