Sunday was a good day. Check that,Sunday was a great day.
I got to watch the Packers with my wife and two children. It was 4-month-old Baby Reggie’s first Packers game (yep,that’s Reggie in the picture. He gets his cuteness from his mother),and he got to see the Packers win in a nail-biter. Almost 3-year-old Big Brother Edward even awoke from his nap just in time to give the Packers a motivational “Go Pack Go!” on the game’s decisive final drive.
Watching the Packers with my family has always been a big deal,but it was an even bigger deal on Sunday. I had a massive surgery in New York to remove all visible cancer from my body on July 29. In addition to the cancer,the surgeons also removed 70 percent of my colon,my spleen,appendix,gall bladder,a sliver of my liver (that’d be a catchy song title) and some of my bladder.
After that was all done,I had chemotherapy pumped directly into my abdomen through a port for three consecutive days. That port remained in my abdomen and became infected,which has landed me in the hospital twice over the last two weeks. This is in addition to all the other challenges and complications that make recovery from this surgery so challenging.
I’m trying to abide by the old cliché and take things day by day as I continue to work at finally turning the corner in my recovery. On Sunday,that meant watching the Packers with my family. And it made me happy. Very happy.
But enough about me and my various ailments. Let’s get to the Packers Stock Report:
It wasn’t the best – or most consistent – game for Rodgers,but how can you leave him off the rising list after that throw he made to Davante Adams at the end of the first half? Unbelievable.
Randall showed no signs of a sophomore slump on Sunday. Whenever Blake Bortles threw to Randall’s receiver,the second-year corner was there to contest the pass. On the game’s decisive final play,Randall blew up a bubble screen pass and held tight until teammates arrived to finish off the tackle and secure the Packers win.
The only questionable move made by Randall on Sunday was his decision to wear long sleeves in the 100-degree heat.
I liked that the Packers didn’t use Matthews exclusively outside. Yes,rushing from the edge was his primary duty,but Dom Capers still moved Matthews around enough to take advantage of his playmaking skills. Matthews’ versatility,and Capers willingness to move him around every now and then,resulted in several impactful plays from the Jeff Hanneman look-a-like.
Damn. Another concussion for Shields,the fourth of his career. Here’s hoping he bounces back and he doesn’t suffer and short- or long-term effects.
Yeah,Burnett had a bad holding penalty that enabled the Jags to extend the game’s final drive,but I was really impressed with No. 42’s energy and explosiveness. I thought he brought a lot of heat when he lined up closer to the line of scrimmage like a hybrid linebacker and flew around the secondary in the passing game. I’m looking forward to how the experiment of using Burnett in a variety of ways evolves.
Don’t worry,young fella. Many Packers players who are now stars have ended up in the falling category at some point in their careers. You’ll bounce back and become the playmaker many think you can be.
Unlike Rollins,Mike McCarthy Rodgers and the offense don’t have the excuse of youth to explain away their communication issues on Sunday. What the heck was that on Green Bay’s final drive? Back-to-back time outs? An audible to a run where the entire offensive line was pass-blocking. Yuck. Ick. Bleh.
For the past several preseasons,the Jacksonville Jaguars have fooled football analysts into thinking that they’ll actually be good. That notion inevitably went out the window by week three when it became obvious that the Jaguars would be the same old terrible Jaguars,not the young,upstart team with a bevy of high draft picks ready to break out that many thought they’d be.
The Jags no longer hold the preseason “bad team ready to finally be good” title belt. The Oakland Raiders stole it from them. Now the Jags are just the Jags again: boring,nondescript,and destined to win no more than six games.
Here are five reasons why one of those six wins will not come against the Green Bay Packers this afternoon:
Because Jordy’s back
Don’t expect Jordy Nelson to go for 10 catches and 150 yards in his return,but he doesn’t have to in order to make an impact. Having Nelson back gives Jags defensive coordinator Todd Wash another impact player to scheme for,which will result in things opening up for Randall Cobb in the slot and maybe even Davante Adams as he begins his bounce-back season.
Speaking of bounce-back seasons,Eddie Lacy’s begins today. Lacy doesn’t appear to be drastically slimmed down,but he’s playing for a new contract and to show that last season was an aberration. It’s also going to be hot in Jacksonville,meaning Lacy will probably be so sweaty that defenders will slide right off of him.
Since 2014,1,331 of the 2,000 offensive plays Jacksonville has run have been run with the Jags trailing. If the Packers can jump ahead early,look for Aaron Rodgers and the offense to maintain the lead and the defense to force a few key turnovers to seal the victory.
Shushing the whispers
Let’s be clear about something: The Packers are an elite football team. They’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders every season. But the Packers postseason shortcomings since winning Super Bowl XLV have many people whispering that Mike McCarthy isn’t the coach to deliver another championship to Titletown. “Sure the Packers are good,” these people say. “They’ll win 10-13 regular season games,then collapse in the playoffs.” Beating the Jags in week one won’t silence those whispers,but you have to start somewhere. If the Packers lose to Jacksonville,those whispers will get louder,and nobody in the Green Bay locker room wants to start the season like that.
Because it’s Jacksonville…
C’mon. It’s the Jaguars. The Packers aren’t going to lose to the freaking Jaguars.
If,for some reason,God wants to punish the Packers by having them lose to the freaking Jaguars today,this might be how it happens:
Two guys named Allen
Receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns combined for 144 catches,2,431 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2015. Throw in tight end Julius Thomas and his 46 receptions in just 12 games and the Jags have plenty of big receiving targets to torment the Packers defense and possibly steal a victory.
College: South Carolina St.
NFL Experience: 1 year
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Expectations coming into the season: Thomas didn’t make the Packers out of training camp,but returned once the Packers snatched him off the Cowboys practice squad early in the season. The Packers brought Thomas back to provide extra coverage in their dime package. Bringing back a familiar player from another team’s practice squad is a very Ted Thompson thing to do. When you’re an inside linebacker who only weights 227 pounds,you better stand out in coverage because odds are,you’re not going to see the field much in running situations.
Player’s highlights/low-lights: Thomas never did nab an interception of his own,but he did deflect a pass that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off against the Rams. Thomas also recorded his first career sack against Alex Smith and the Chiefs and proved to be a decent blizter. Unfortunately,Thomas didn’t turn out to be the reliable dime coverage linebacker he was brought in to be. Speed and quickness wasn’t an issue. Reaction time was.
Level of Expectations met: At this point,do Packers fans expect anything from the inside linebacker position? It’s been season after season of complaining about the gaping hole inside,and seeing players like Thomas cycle through and contribute here and there,but make minimal impact overall.
Player’s contributions to team success: Thomas was feisty on the blitz,which was something I don’t think teams expected from a guy who weighs at least 20 pounds less than the Packers starting running back. However,when it came to standing out in pass coverage in space,which is difficult for any linebacker,let alone a guy off another team’s practice squad,Thomas missed more often than he hit. Overall,Thomas was just another guy passing through the Packers’ rotation of mediocrity at inside linebacker.
Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Thomas was decent against both Washington and Arizona. Nothing spectacular or game-changing,but solid.
Intangibles/misc: You rarely saw Thomas line up incorrectly or completely blow an assignment in Dom Capers’ notoriously complex defensive scheme. That’s important for a middle linebacker on a defense that relies heavily on blitzing and several moving parts.
Overall Grade: D+
NFL Experience: Rookie
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Expectations coming into the season: Normally,a rookie middle linebacker selected in the fourth round of the draft wouldn’t generate much buzz. But since the Packers inside linebacker situation has been so dismal in recent seasons,Ryan managed to get a little more attention than the usual obscure mid-round pick. I don’t think he was expected to be a savior inside,but he was expected to contribute and provide hope for the future.
Player’s highlights/low-lights: Would you believe me if I told you that Jake Ryan’s tackles per snap (5.8) were more than twice the rate of Clay Matthews? Well,it’s true. That’s an obvious highlight. Ryan’s lowlight came in week 16 against Arizona where he looked totally overmatched in space against any Arizona offensive player he was asked to cover or tackle. Getting back to the highlights,Ryan looked much better during the playoff re-match with Arizona,notching five solo tackles.
Level of Expectations met: It took a while,but Ryan eventually got his shot. He didn’t make Packers fans forget about all the struggles the team has had at middle linebacker,but he did do some nice things. Is Ryan the answer for the Packers at middle linebacker? Not by himself. Can he be part of the solution inside that allows Matthews to move back outside? I think so. That’s hardly high praise,but it’s a step in the right direction.
Player’s contributions to team success: There weren’t any games where we said to ourselves,”Man,Jake Ryan sure dominated today.” There also weren’t many instances where we threw things at our television sets following another Ryan blunder. After Nate Palmer spun his wheels and Joe Thomas didn’t appear to be an every-down player,Ryan at least showed he belonged when he finally was given the opportunity. Is Ryan’s ceiling higher than simply a player who belongs? I don’t think so,but you’re not going to have an All-Pro at every position. For a kid in his first season on a team desperate for inside linebacker help,just showing you belonged is pretty damn good.
Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Ryan totaled 11 tackles in two playoff games and only got burned badly once in pass coverage (early in the Arizona game,Carson Palmer overthrew the receiver). Much like he did in the regular season,Ryan was solid,but unspectacular.
Intangibles/misc: We’ll know more about Ryan’s intangibles when training camp opens this summer. Ryan’s going to need a little time in the weight room to help him better shed blocks. He also could benefit from impact training that helps him become more explosive in tight spaces. To this fan’s eye,nothing appeared to be wrong with Ryan’s attitude or preparedness,but I think Ryan’s true test when it comes to intangibles is happening now as he prepares for the 2016 season. Will he put in the time to take the next step?
Overall Grade: C
College: Illinois St.
NFL Experience: 3 years
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Expectations coming into the season: After moving to inside linebacker,2015 was supposed to be a season where Palmer continued to learn the ropes of his (somewhat) new position and provide some coverage help when called upon. After Sam Barrington got hurt,that all went out the window and Palmer was called up to start and contribute. It didn’t go well.
Player’s highlights/low-lights: Palmer got benched against Carolina,but managed to still hang onto his starting job for a couple more weeks before Jake Ryan took his spot full time. After struggling against the Bears in week 1 when he initially took over for Barrington,Palmer played OK over the next three games. Then Todd Gurley ran rampant for 159 yards in week 5 and Palmer’s play never really picked back up.
Level of Expectations met: You could say it was unfair to expect Palmer — a player new to the inside linebacker position coming off a recent major injury — to hold serve when called upon following Barrington’s injury. You could also blame Ted Thompson for failing to fix the inside linebacker position in the first place,which forced Palmer into a role he was not ready for. Both of those things would be true,but life often isn’t fair in the NFL. Palmer had a job to do when thrust into the starting job and he didn’t do it.
Player’s contributions to team success: Most pegged Palmer as a linebacker who could excel in pass coverage. Well,he didn’t. He also looked lost in the run game. Overall,Palmer didn’t appear to posses the natural instincts and reaction time to play inside,which isn’t surprising since he has minimal experience at the position. When Ryan supplanted Palmer in the starting lineup,it wasn’t an immediate and obvious upgrade,but Ryan was clearly the better,and more natural,player.
Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Palmer played on special teams,but that’s it.
Intangibles/misc: Palmer plays hard. Effort and want-to wasn’t an issue at all. You also have to give a player credit whenever he’s asked to play a new position and forced into a bigger role than he or the team probably planned for. Unfortunately,effort,flexibility and attitude wasn’t enough to turn Palmer into a contributing player in 2015
Overall Grade: D
NFL Experience: 7 years
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Expectations coming into the season: Packers general manager Ted Thompson once again did not address the inside linebacker position,leaving it up to Matthews to play the spot instead of his usual outside linebacker/pass rush position. Not only was Matthews expected to fill the void inside,he was expected to play well and help hold together the run defense. Matthews delivered. Unfortunately,Matthews didn’t have too many moments where he went beyond simply delivering.
Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews’ six tackles helped hold Adrian Peterson to 45 yards in a must-win game against the Vikings on Nov. 22. Matthews’ two sacks against Kansas City in week three contributed to the Packers hot start. Down the stretch,Matthews failed to record a tackle in games against Oakland and Arizona. He also rarely beat his man when rushing from the edge as the season wore on.
Level of Expectations met: I can confidently say that Matthews met expectations. He even had a few games and key moments where he exceeded expectations. That said,I didn’t feel like Matthews made the impact of a star defensive player consistently enough. With a star player like Matthews,you expect expectations to be exceeded — especially during big moments. Is it unfair to expect a player to exceed expectations,especially when that player is playing a new position? Maybe. But I didn’t feel like Matthews made the impact that he typically makes. He rarely won his matchup when he did rush from the outside (especially late in the season) and he had too many moments in later weeks where he disappeared. Overall,it was a good season for Matthews,but not quite the type of Clay Matthews season we’ve grown accustomed to.
Player’s contributions to team success: Who knows what would have happened to the Packers defense if they were forced to play Nate Palmer,Joe Thomas or Jake Ryan full time inside instead of Matthews? I know I sounded critical of Matthews in the expectation section,but he really did everthing the Packers asked him to do. Without him,the Packers defense would not have had the type of year it had.
Player’s contributions in the playoffs: The main thing preventing Matthews from earning an “A” for the postseason was his inability to win his matchup when rushing from the edge. How nice would it have been to have Matthews discard an Arizona tackle and sack Palmer late in that game?
Intangibles/misc: Matthews made himself a star by becoming one of the NFL’s best edge pass rushers. Midway through last season,the Packers moved him inside. Matthews wasn’t exactly overjoyed about the decision,but he’s played his tail off and did exactly what the Packers needed him to do inside. Matthews has also turned into an ornery son of a gun as he’s gotten older. Matthews attitude and aggressiveness has helped the Packers’ defense shed the “soft” label.
Overall Grade: B
After the Green Bay Packers lost the 1960 NFL championship,head coach Vince Lombardi told his team that they would never lose another championship game.
He was right. Lombardi and the Packers won their next nine postseason games.
Under current head coach Mike McCarthy,the Packers have lost seven playoff games. Of those defeats,five have come on the game’s final play.
When it comes to postseason success,McCarthy is no Lombardi. But are the Packers playoff shortcomings – especially in close games – really McCarthy’s fault? Would Lombardi have fared different if he were transplanted to the modern era and roamed the sidelines during each of the Packers heartbreaking playoff defeats?
I have no idea. But I do know this: The Packers shortcomings during clutch playoff situations is maddening. Even after another miracle Hail Mary on Saturday night,in the back of my mind,I kept thinking,“That was awesome,but the Packers typically don’t win these types of games. Things will go south in overtime.”
Unfortunately,my negative mindset proved to be correct. Why have the Packers typically come up short when it matters most in the playoffs under McCarthy? Let’s try and figure it out.
We’ve touched on it a bit already,but is McCarthy the one to blame?
I pointed the finger at the coach after last season’s NFC title game meltdown. I’ve also been critical of McCarthy after other playoff defeats,but what coach isn’t going to face criticism after his team loses in the playoffs?
There wasn’t much to be mad at McCarthy about following the loss to the Cardinals. He added a few wrinkles to his normally static game plan that helped keep his team in it despite a long list of injuries.
I believe any criticism of McCarthy cannot be strictly based on his postseason results. What gets me frustrated at McCarthy is his stubbornness,unwillingness to make pass-protection adjustments in-game and set-in-stone pass concepts that don’t adjust to the personnel available to him or what the defense is doing.
When those criticisms carry over from the regular season to the postseason (and sometimes they do),then McCarthy definitely shares in a big chunk of the blame for the Packers playoff failures. But to say these problems are exclusive to McCarthy’s playoff game plans and that they happen every single playoff game is shortsighted.
The Packers typically have one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Does youth and inexperience contribute to late-game postseason meltdowns?
Maybe. But look closer at who’s been screwing up in the big spots during these nail-biting contests.
· On Saturday,Sam Shields – a veteran – dropped three interceptions that would have wiped 10 points off the board for Arizona.
· In last season’s NFC title game collapse,Morgan Burnett (veteran) picked off a pass late,then followed the instruction of Julius Peppers (another veteran) to kneel down despite a wide open field in front of him.
· In 2013,Micah Hyde had a game-winning interception slip through his hands late in the game. Hyde was a rookie,so maybe we can chalk that mistake up to youth.
· The overtime period of the 2009 wild-card game loss to Arizona saw Aaron Rodgers – in only his second season as a starter but his fifth season overall – overthrow an open Greg Jennings for a touchdown,then fumble on the game’s final play to give the Cardinals the win.
· Finally,it was Brett Favre – the most veteran of veteran players – who threw the overtime interception that cost the Packers the 2007 NFC title game against New York.
Obviously,there were more plays that led to each Packers loss in the aforementioned games than the ones I’ve highlighted,but it’s been more than the Packers young guys messing up when the game is on the line.
Nobody likes to use injuries as an excuse,but do the Packers have a case?
On Saturday,the Packers top four receivers when training camp opened were hurt. Rodgers was,basically,playing on one leg against Seattle in 2014. The 2013 loss to San Francisco featured a laundry list of injured Packers.
Every team is banged up when January rolls around,but the Packers seem to always be a little more banged up than others.
Whether it’s the regular season or the postseason,almost every NFL game comes down to a handful of key plays. For some reason,with the exception of the 2010 Super Bowl run,most of these plays have not gone the Packers’ way.
Was it luck that the Cardinals got two first downs by a single chain-link on Saturday night? Or that Russell Wilson’s desperation heave in 2014 on a late two-point conversion was caught by one of his own players instead of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? Or that Arizona got away with an obvious offensive pass interference on their last regulation touchdown on Saturday and a facemask on the game’s final play in 2009?
When the ball bounces late in these playoff games,it typically doesn’t bounce the Packers’ way (Saturday’s Hail Mary being a major exception,of course).
All of the above
If the Packers struggles could be tied to just one issue,they probably would have solved it by now. Unfortunately,it’s not that simple.
Everything I’ve mentioned here,and likely several other issues I haven’t even thought about,contribute to the Packers late-game postseason shortcomings.
Is this something that can be fixed? Can a study be conducted and specific changes made that will turn things around? Or is it just a matter of players stepping up,the coaches coaching better and the Packers’ late-game luck turning around?
That’s a question McCarthy will have to address this offseason. Maybe he needs to try a Lombardi-style speech where he tells his team that “They will never lose another postseason game on the final play again.”
Whatever might work,I’m all for it. We’re all sick of seeing the Packers walk off the field in defeat after another late-game playoff loss.
At this point,it really doesn’t matter who the Packers play in the playoffs. With an offense this anemic and an offensive line obliterated by injuries,the playoff future of our favorite football team looks bleak.
But,this is the NFL. We’ve seen mediocre teams catch fire and win Super Bowls before. Right now,it doesn’t look like the Packers will be that mediocre team this season,but you never know.
Let’s pretend we’re all more hopeful than we actually are for a moment. How does that feel? Being optimistic feels good,doesn’t it? Let’s stay in that mindset and ask ourselves a question: Should the Packers throw in the towel against the Vikings on Sunday?
I’m not advocating that the Packers should concede Sunday’s game and another division title,but,well,it kinda sorta makes sense.
The Packers offensive line is an injured mess. Do we want to force all those guys back out there to play through whatever ailments they have on Sunday night? Or would it make more sense to give them a week off to recover and get healthier for the postseason?
Aaron Rodgers was a tackling dummy against Arizona. He could probably use a week off,too. And do we really want him playing on Sunday night if his tackles are once again Don Barclay and Josh Walker (or J.C. Tretter)?
Speaking of injuries,another week for Sam Shields to heal would be nice. Clay Matthews has also disappeared,he could probably use a rest. Julius Peppers is old,you can’t tell me he couldn’t use a week off at this point in the season.
If the Packers lose Sunday,they would travel to Washington to play the team with a racial slur for a nickname in the first round. If the Packers win,they’d host Seattle or Minnesota at Lambeau. Washington is nowhere near as good as Seattle and not as good as Minnesota. The Packers chances of catching fire in the postseason go up,way up in my opinion,if they start out against Washington instead of Seattle or Minnesota.
“But we should try and host a home playoff game!” The Packers lost to Detroit at home and Chicago on Favre/Starr night. I don’t think homefield advantage helps them much.
“But we should try to win another division title!” Nobody cares about division titles. Nobody.
See,I told you taking next week off wasn’t a crazy thought. There are reasons beyond simply trying to avoid a playoff matchup with Seattle.
Will the Packers do it? Not a chance. Should they do it? I don’t know.
Either way,here’s to the Packers pulling a rabbit out of their hats and making some kind of improbable playoff run. Go Pack Go!
Remember when we were all kinda mad that Packers general manager Ted Thompson didn’t trade for Vernon Davis near the NFL trade deadline? Let’s take a look at Davis’s stats since the trade and compare them to the numbers put up by Packers tight end Richard Rodgers over the same time period.
Vernon Davis: 19 catches,196 yards,zero touchdowns.
Richard Rodgers: 26 catches,237 yards,5 touchdowns.
Rodgers also had one of the most memorable catches in Packers history to beat the Lions on a Hail Mary. Davis dropped a fourth-down pass last week that cost his team a shot at beating the Raiders.
Does all of this mean Ted Thompson was absolutely 100 percent correct in not trading for Davis? Of course not. Who knows what might happen the rest of this season? And who knows what type of numbers Davis might be putting up right now if he had Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball?
All I’m saying is a lot of the consternation we saw from some Packers fans when Davis went to Denver instead of Green Bay was probably an overreaction. You have to let these things play out before you grab the torch and the pitch fork.
I have no doubt Thompson did his homework on Davis and determined he wasn’t worth giving up a draft pick. So far,Thompson appears to be right.
I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a way to frame this post,and I can’t do it. Instead of trying to come up with an angle or re-telling my entire “cancer story” for the 500th time,I’m just going to say what I want to say.
Early last week I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. The prognosis is not good,but I’m going to fight like hell to try and beat it.
At first,I wasn’t in much of a fighting mood. Thinking about my 2-year-old son growing up without a father and my pregnant wife having to raise our family without me was devastating. It put me in an emotional black hole that I thought was impossible to claw my way out of.
I was discharged from the hospital on Thursday,about 5 hours before the Packers-Lions game kicked off. Despite my state,I wanted to watch the game. My wife,who is my rock and my everything,and I never miss watching Packers games together and we weren’t going to start that night.
Before continuing,let me get back to the emotional black hole I mentioned earlier. I wouldn’t wish falling into that black hole on my worst enemy. It’s an awful place. Not only did being in that black hole turn me into a sobbing,emotional,uncontrollable mess,it made me incredibly bitter.
After my initial diagnosis on Tuesday,I was wheeled on a hospital bed from the emergency room to a permanent room. Every person I saw along the way – from smiling nurses to families on their way to visit loved ones – I wanted to bludgeon with a hammer.
Why do they get to be healthy? Why can’t they be on this bed instead of me? Don’t they know my wife and I were just told that I have cancer? Quit fucking smiling. Don’t look at me. Get lost and go away.
That attitude continued into the next day. There was also a lot of crying. Check that,it wasn’t crying. It was all out blubbering. Just a flood of tears and a category five hurricane of emotions.
Then it got worse. Way worse.
On Wednesday,an oncologist informed us that my cancer had spread beyond my colon into my abdomen and lymph nodes. The prognosis was bleak. My wife looked at the guy and said we have a 2 year old at home and another due in early May. Can’t you tell us something hopeful?
He said he was sorry. I wanted to stab him with the I.V. needle that was stuck in my arm. I hated not only him,but every healthy person in the entire world. This is bullshit. Why me and not someone else?
Bitterness. Unimaginable bitterness. On top of the sadness,agony,worry,anxiety,depression and everything else,bitterness had not just crept in,it had taken over my mindset.
I pleaded with my wife to,among other things,help me get over this bitterness. It felt unhealthier than the actual cancer. My wife was a wreck herself,but because she’s the best,she started doing what she could. Seeing my parents and my pastor later on Wednesday night also helped start the process of ridding my thoughts of bitterness.
Fast forward to Thursday. Before kickoff,my wife set up a Caring Bridge page so others could follow my fight. I also mentioned my diagnosis on Facebook and Twitter.
By this time,I had seen my son for the first time as a dad with cancer. My in-laws were also at my house to help and my parents had just went home. Having my wife,parents and in-laws either with me or helping out back home during this whole mess was the first big step in ridding myself of this God-awful bitterness.
Getting my son out of his crib after he woke up from his nap also worked wonders.
Progress was being made. I was still an absolute wreck,but the giant cloud of bitterness was starting to break. Instead of being mad at other people for no good reason,I could at least start to focus my energy on the long journey ahead.
As we sat down to watch the Packers-Lions game,I opened my phone to see if anybody had commented on my “announcement.” A lot of people had. A whole lot of people. I really didn’t pay much attention to the game because 1) the Packers were playing awful and 2) I couldn’t keep up with all the well-wishers on Twitter,Facebook and Caring Bridge.
We’ve all wished someone well on social media who’s shared bad news,whether it’s health related or not. Sometimes we send prayers,sometimes a word or two of encouragement. We might not think much about it after we type the words and hit send.
Let me tell you something: They help. A lot. Really,they do. Each and every message,even if it’s the standard “sending thoughts and prayers” or “you can beat this.”
The love and support of my wife and family had already helped me make great strides in ridding my mind of the bitterness. The outpouring of support from social media – from both people I knew in real life and people that I’ve never met – also helped.
I was still stuck way,way,way deep in that emotional black hole,but my wife,my family,my friends,returning home and the social media outpouring had started me on the journey to try and get out of it. Yes,believe it or not,social media can be a good thing. Hearing encouraging words from strangers or people you haven’t seen in a long time is a great cure for excessive bitterness (not to mention an overall morale booster).
Then Aaron Rodgers hit Richard Rodgers on a Hail Mary to get the Packers an improbable win. When Richard Rodgers caught the ball,I yelled like a little school girl,“He caught it! He actually caught it!” Then some weird giggling sound came out of my mouth.
My wife looked at me and said,“That’s the first time you’ve smiled since this started.”
Yup,I was smiling. It didn’t last long,but it was a smile. I didn’t think smiling would ever be possible again. The Rodgers-to-Rodgers Hail Mary made me forget about having cancer for like two seconds. In my state,those two seconds felt like an eternity.
Another step in the right direction.
Obviously,a football game isn’t going to make me better. Neither are notes of support on social media,no matter how many there are. But combined with the efforts of my rock star wife,an incredibly loving family and ready-to-take-action friends,it’s a small piece of the complicated puzzle that,when finally together,will have me ready to fight like hell.
Fast forward to today. I’m still stuck in my black hole,but I can actually see a light above me as I continue to claw my way upward. Once I’m out of this hole,the fight begins.
And I will get out of this hole. The bitterness is gone. The depression,the worry,the anxiety and a whole bunch of other stuff is still there but my wife,family and friends are continuing to push me toward that opening above me that I can now actually see.
Get this: My 2 year old tinkled in his potty for the first time on Saturday night! He sat down,ripped a fart,then tinkled a few drops. If that’s not a pick-me-up,I don’t know what is.
This post has already gone on way longer than it should have,so I’m going to wrap things up. I wish I had some creative way to tie together all the random thoughts I just laid out,but I don’t. Unfortunately,it’s impossible to wrap up situations like this in a neat little bow.
I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting in the coming weeks and months. If you’d like to follow along as I begin this fight,check out my Caring Bridge page or find me on Twitter.
Any and all support is appreciated,especially from the CheeseheadTV community. I need all the help I can get to emerge from this black hole and fight,fight,fight.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to keep abreast of Adam’s upcoming battle,the best thing to do is check his Caring Bridge page
. You just have to create a login,nothing more. Alternatively,you can also follow him on twitter at @adamczech